On Rot

The thing about lonely people is its everyone. We all get our joy from somewhere though.

Adam fell in love with the anarchists.

O’brien carried on a slow and sickly affair with himself.

I sent a lot of messages, that was my thing. Smoke rings, spells, long texts and letters I didn’t know how to post.

We had dinner together sometimes.

“We need someone.”

“I need someone.”

I would look very hard at O’brien when he said things like this. I think he thought I was flirting with him, sometimes, when I glared at him but he was too scared of women to ever bring it up.

“Do you think I’m flirting with you, when I stare at you when you say things like that?”

“You have a cracker in your hair.” O’brien said, slowly.

“No, I don’t.”

“For the room, you mean?” asked Adam.

“Yes, for the room.”

“I kind of know someone.”






Adam didn’t want us to use Gumtree. He was paranoid. He didn’t like leaving a trail online.

We went along with it. Somebody being crazy gets boring faster than anything, and I never wanted to spend my time occupied with him.

I was hardly in the house anyway. I had my own paranoia hobbies.

When the zombie moved in, nobody wanted to be rude about the smell. It wasn’t too bad, as long as you smoked constantly. We let it be.



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Still, it occupied my thoughts in a large way. Every morning, I sat at my bus stop, and1 thought about how a human being could reek like that.

Now, of course, I know it was the putrefaction that had set in her stomach and thighs.

She was only about a month dead, and it was winter, but it was still Sydney. There was the humidity, and the warm rain.

After it rained, the zombie tracked water around the house for days. She soaked it up like a kitchen sponge. Everyone wondered about that, even Adam. The pools, leading from her room, to the porch, and back again, seemed alive, like pond water. I mopped them up, and then put the mop on the porch where I didn’t have to look at it.

For nearly a month, no one knew that she was a zombie. O’brien is still preoccupied by this. He has left Sydney entirely now and gone to Cairns where it never gets cold and, all year round, you can smell a rotting body at 20 paces.



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My first conversation with the zombie was at night.

She was standing in our backyard. Our backyard felt a bit like a dog run, or a prison. There was an factory on one side of it, so there was never any sun. She was smoking, and pacing.

I asked her for a light, and she looked at me. Her eyes were too wide. She looked the way a cat looks, straight ahead, indifferent, through universes.

She held a lighter out, in front of her, so that I was forced to lean in and breathe her breath. It wasn’t breath, of course, just gases escaping, but I didn’t know that.

The smell made me wretch, and I tried to hide it, pulling in hard on my cigarette. She knew though. She was embarrassed, and shuffled away. She was very clumsy. She nearly fell over a beer bottle

I was embarrassed too.

‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ I said.

She shrugged, and looked at me again.

‘It’s alright.’

I didn’t know what to say to that, so we smoked quietly together for a while, and then I went inside and cried a bit in my room for personal reasons. I don’t know how long she stayed out there.

I got along better with the zombie than anyone else in the house.

Rose Barnsley is in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. She writes at Berfrois and Queen Mobs Teahouse.

Goodie was born in California, USA, in 1994. They grew up in Canberra, Australia and currently live in Melbourne, studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Goodie is a multi-disciplinary artist, working predominantly in painting, as well as installation, film, photography, performance, illustration and poetry. You can see their work at www.facebook.com/GoodieArt 


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