[ToC]

 

ALMOST

Diana Clarke

 

 

It starts when she is born, pink and loud, and her mother whispers, "Virginia." And the nurse smiles and returns with a certificate proudly announcing the existence of Virgina. Her parents yawn and shrug and share a look that says close enough.

X

A man on a game show called One Question is asked the million dollar question, which is: "Is the answer A, B, C, or D?" The man smiles at the camera, into the eyes of every single audience member, and he breathes a calm breath that deflates his chest and he says, "B."
      The show's host, a sparkle-toothed man, inhales loudly through his dazzling, fenced grin and he says, "So close!" And the contestant goes home with nothing.

X

A coronation is not a breed of flower.
      One does not receive a constellation prize.

X

When Virgina is five, her mother dies in a car accident. Virgina is sitting in the back seat, reading a picture book, when a truck crosses into the wrong lane and hits their car head on.
     "You're a lucky girl," everyone tells her. "You were almost dead meat."
     Virgina says, "My mother died."
     "Very lucky," says everyone. "Almost died."

X

At the general election, the two parties are only two percent apart in votes.
      "So close!" says the losing party. "Do a recount!"
      "We won!" says the winning party. "Don't!"

X

The sea that acts as glue holding the United States to Australia, or perhaps the blockade keeping them apart, is not called the Specific Ocean.

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On Virgina's tenth birthday, her father, perpetually drunk now, his words all spoken in a doctor's scratch, hands her a Happy 9th Birthday card with a carnation on it.

X

Physics cannot see into the future.

X

Virgina meets the almost love of her life at age 18. His name is Neil Write. They are at their graduation party, a violent watercolour scene, lights that pulse and music that aches. She is drunk or drugged, every object is copulating with another and the house appears to be filled with smog. She would have said yes, anyway, if she had been able to speak around the swollen thick of her inflatable tongue.

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Frankincense is not a monster's creator.

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The outer ring of bullseye is one centimetre thick, which means that the difference between scoring fifty points and scoring one is about the width of a fingernail.

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The main problem with Neil, Virgina thinks, is that he is so concerned with his own woes. The whole world is at war, most of Central America is underwater, and Neil keeps bemoaning the hard water stains from their dishwasher. He scrubs the salty sediment with more vigour than he has ever done another thing.
      On the other hand, she is being a stickler. At least he is passionate about something.

X

Semantic shifts make for great passive aggression ammo:

  • Call someone awful and tell them it used to mean full of awe.
  • Call someone nice because it used to mean foolish.

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Naomi Watts is not Nicole Kidman. Amy Adams is not Isla Fisher.

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Neil and Virgina decide to get a pet and they go to a dog breeder.
     "We only have hogs in stock,"the breeder tells them.
     "Just a 'd' away,"says Neil, and the couple leave with a pig on a leash.

X

On Valentine's Day, flower sales increase by eight hundred percent, but cactus sales also increase by one hundred percent which means that everyone is doing it wrong. Just because they have thorns doesn't make them roses. The receivers don't know this, they are just happy to be loved, so they clasp their prickled bouquets to their chests and live the dumb day with dartboard torsos.

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When Neil Write asks Virgina to marry him, he touches her expectant gut with his index finger as if probing an animal to test for death rather than life. And he says, "So I guess we should get married then?"
     She says, "Was that a proposal?'
     He says, "Nothing is ever quite right."

X

Some metaphors:
     You are a circumcised cactus, your sap leaks from you.
     Your smile is gated, knock, knock, knock a tooth out.
     This relationship is the air inside a balloon.

X

And in a dream Virgina's mother asks her, "Does he treat you right?"
     And Virgina says, "Almost."

 

 

 

 

 

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I once broke up with a man because he continually referred to the Pacific Ocean as the Specific Ocean. It wasn't until I realised that he was always specifically talking about the Pacific Ocean, that I understood he was right all along. The man will not speak to me anymore, but he should know that I regret my arrogance.