28.04.20 - 03.04.20
Madeleine Dunnigan


You live in a fishing village with your sister. The sea level is rising and you need to get inside. Before you do, you go to the supermarket. There is nothing in there save rows and rows of ducks and geese that line the cold meats section. Their breasts and thighs are plump and their plucked skin is pimply. No one is buying them so you beg the shop assistant to give them to you for free. You run home with bags full of birds, but they are too heavy and you can’t run fast enough. You are not looking where you are going and suddenly you are on a narrow ledge on a cliff face. There is a lion in front of you, surrounded by half eaten dog carcasses. The lion roars and jumps and you jump too, feeling the sensation of falling downward, forever.


You are in a hallway, waiting for your boss to arrive with the silk samples and garments you will use as templates for his new collection. Bright blue, red, yellow and a colour you don’t have a name for – like the soft part of a cat’s paw. But they’re not quite right. ‘No Kanye, I can’t work with these,’ you say, sighing. ‘What do you mean?’ he shouts, throwing jackets, trouser and dresses onto the floor. You pick up a cream and red coat: putting it on is like slipping into water. Kanye is turned away from you, in a huff. ‘’50 Cent is here, go and answer the door,’ he says before storming off.


You are in an exercise class pumping away at your Romanian Deadlifts. ‘Let’s get it!’ the instructor shouts, her grin sweating off her face. You are wearing your retainer and afterward, as you take it off, one of your incisors comes away. A chunk of your gum has also come off and it is fleshy like a cube of watermelon. You feel the hole between your teeth with your tongue. The instructor comes up to you and you realise that she is crying. She is crying and you are in a cafeteria sitting next to her. ‘I am in love,’ she wails, pointing to a beautiful boy in front of you.


You are in a Texan style barbecue restaurant, licking the delicious smoky but sweet sauce from your fingers. You are sitting in a booth and the whole restaurant is filled with people you know, whose eyes you are trying to avoid. There is a revolving karaoke stage in the middle of the restaurant but no one is singing, one lone pink light flashes. You stand up and walk outside into the graveyard behind the restaurant. For some reason one of your father’s students is walking with you, he is topless and holding an umbrella. The graves are laid out in neat rows, and are very clean; in fact, the graveyard is made from bricks and concrete. Your father’s student turns to you and says, ‘This is just like Bicester Village.’


You choose a black top and Julia Roberts chooses white. You put on your respective costumes and realise that you should have chosen white: it works better as a contrast to the tight black leggings and red ballet shoes, but it is too late to swap. You arrange yourself: pelvis tucked under, knees turned outward, feet together, chin up. And then you waddle out onstage. Your teacher shouts, ‘You will never get your nose!’ You tighten your frame, and stick out your arms, you widen your smile and waddle faster and faster, trying to keep up with Julia Roberts. ‘Flowers’ by Sweet Female Attitude is playing, and Julia slides and kicks, arms out, bum wiggling, grin wide. She brings out a daisy and eats it hole then produces it from her armpit. She is the best clown in all the world.


You are in a flat that isn’t yours. The family to whom it belongs come home, with their small baby, and you explain that you’ll only be staying there for one night as you need to get a train in the morning. You are visiting your best friend in Scotland, who is pregnant and has moved to the countryside to become an artist, because it is the only way she can make enough money to survive. When you arrive, she shows you around. Each room is filled with her work: the first displays beatific landscapes, the second hundreds of cows, and in the third room, the paintings are of distorted dolls. All the work is hyper-realist, like photographs, but painted in thick oil paint. As you stare at them you are trying to think of a way to tell her that all her work is utterly hideous.


You are at your old school, which is full of young children who run through the corridors. You are trying to gather them up because there is a paedophile on the loose. You can see him grinning through the windows but when you step closer he disappears and you can only see your reflection. You pile into your car with a handful of children and start driving down the road, chasing the paedophile. You are driving at an incredible speed, even though you know the road has a 20 mph speed limit. You turn the corner and suddenly the road is filled with water. It rushes faster and faster around the car. You climb into the back, manage to get out one of the windows and swim to safety. Some of the children do too, but the others drown.