The serial killer

June 6, 2014 § 6 Comments

Writing 101, Day Four.

Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series.

April, 2010.

My partner and I have just moved into a new house.  It is the first time we are “officially” living together, after a lengthy affair and then several tiresome months of commuting and sleeping over at each other’s houses once he separated from his wife.  We are both excited and optimistic.

The home we are renting for the next 12 months is a two-storey rammed earth house, backing onto national park with no fixed fence lines.  There is a stunning view from the back deck that looks out over the valley and hills behind our property. The surrounding landscape, including our “garden”, is all native bushland vegetation.  I hate the dry mess and the dull greenness of it, but I take a deep breath and remind myself of the views and the serenity and how lucky we are to have scored this house to begin with.

We take only a couple of days to move in and unpack.  As this is the first new home for us with my partner’s kids, I am eager to make it perfect and show them that I care about them, care about their environment and where they grow up.  The house itself is beautiful with raw red earth walls and rich colored timber.  This is the first time I have seen a rammed earth house up close, let alone lived in one.  Adam tells me that the walls are made of all natural materials which are literally rammed (i.e. compressed) into a frame or mould to create either solid walls or large blocks.  He is raving about how well they insulate a house from heat or cold.  I run my hands over the rough surface, loving the raw texture and rustic look, though I am left with a dusty hand and loose dirt on the floor from a small pebble which has dislodged.

But for all its aesthetics, the rammed earth is proving to be a problem for the multitude of paintings, pictures, photos and other wall hangings that we have to install.  We cannot drill it and we are having pot-luck with getting tack-based hooks to stick without a clump of earth falling out.  After several failed attempts, we decide to stack all the paintings and pictures until we can find some other solution.

Mid-June, 2010.

I wake slowly in the morning light.  Our bedroom is on the second floor and has large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the valley and the deck below.  It is such a beautiful view that I cannot bear to ever shut the curtains, even though it means we are woken early in the mornings.  Adam is already downstairs so I take a few moments to lie in bed enjoying the scenery and breathing in the cool air filtering in through the few inches of an open window.  I stretch my arms out and then roll onto my side to face out the window, slipping my hands under the pillow and scrunching it slightly under the side of my face.

It takes a second or two for the sensation to register.  It is so faint I almost don’t recognise it to begin with.  I wriggle my fingers against the underside of my pillow to make sure I’m not imagining it and realise they are tingling, ever so slightly.  I prop myself up on my elbows and draw my hands out to look at them but nothing appears out of sorts.  It feels like I have been playing guitar a little too long – when this happens my fingertips tingle and end up being sensitive to touch for a couple of days – except that I haven’t played my guitar in months, in fact it hasn’t even been unpacked yet.  I touch each one of the pads of my fingertips looking for a red mark, a rash, any sign that it’s not just in my head… but there is none.  I shake my hands, squeeze them into fists and shake them again, then get up and have a shower.

Late-June, 2010.

The tingling has gradually worsened over the last couple of weeks.  It is most intense in the mornings and lately seems to be accompanied by some sort of swelling in my fingers and/or hands.  Every morning when I wake up, I carry out the same compulsive check of all my fingertips, looking for a physical symptom of this unpleasant sensation.  There is still nothing.  Only that now, when I squeeze my hands into fists, it aches – as if my hands were frozen or swollen from heat.  The tingling is usually present for most, if not all, of the day.  It is not painful enough to prevent me from touching or picking up anything, but it is unpleasant enough for me to worry about what is causing it.

July, 2010.

I am sitting in a doctor’s surgery, one I have never been to before – it is just down the road from where I work and I have made an emergency appointment.  Earlier this afternoon I had walked over to the printer in our office and when I arrived in the utility room, I happened to come across the HR manager.  I stopped before I reached the printer.  “My fingertips have just gone numb,” I said, confusedly, somewhat to myself.  “What?” the HR manager asked.  “Just then,” I replied, “since I got up and walked over here from my desk, my fingertips have gone numb.  I can’t feel them.”  I looked up at her from my outstretched hands. “Stop whatever it is you’re doing,” she said, “and get yourself to a doctor right now.”


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