Marker

 
 If Yes
  Ben Pester

︎ If yes, please explain your answer ︎



It’s just that I feel very supported in my role. I know my role. I know that when there is hardship, it is temporary and will ultimately be rewarded.


︎ What single thing would improve our workplace? ︎


            *

An egg arrives one day. The egg is about the size of an unused roll of kitchen roll. It is Manuel who brings the egg into the office.

When I ask Manuel about the egg, he says it was delivered to his home address with instructions to bring it in to work. There was no name or address for the sender, he says.

The egg instantly changes the atmosphere in the office. Our individual preoccupations dissipate. The lingering dispute about how to label the portfolio wall is forgotten. The political differences between the Product and Commerce teams are put on ice.

I am deeply attracted to the egg. I find that my breath changes significantly when I am close enough to see the texture of the shell. I do some research online and conclude that the egg causes me to reach an instant Alpha brainwave state. I am relaxed and focused, and have total clarity. I feel an energy that is close to sexual, but is not actually sexual.

I am not alone in experiencing these positive feelings. The egg becomes a common focus of all our down time.

The egg itself seems to go through changes in pattern and texture. It is green at times. It can be a pondish green or closer to turquoise, depending on the light. At other times it is lilac with pale cream. These colours move and sensate throughout the day. They vary also in different weather conditions.

Myself and my colleagues gather to admire the egg frequently. At first, gathering around Manuel’s desk before it is moved to the reception area where there is better access. We stand sometimes in a wide arc finger to finger around the egg, hardly breathing.

We are hypnotised by the texture of the shell, the shade of its sometimes tepid green and the counter-shade of its other times mournful lilac.

We stand for hours sometimes, but we do not feel as if we are being idle.

We are aware that the egg contains an animal. And that animal has a future beyond its egg state, and we are responsible for whatever hatches out. We are all invigorated by this sense of responsibility in a primal way. It has a positive impact on productivity in general.

As a parent, I feel an especially strong sense of duty of care to the animal inside the egg. I think often about holding it, and helping it to feed. Cleaning up its warm mess. The shit and the piss.

We do not know what will come out of the egg, but all of us have our suspicions. I don’t talk to anyone about my own expectations. I don’t want to risk getting into a disagreement about the physical appearance of the animal. I am sure that hearing someone else’s prediction in a heated exchange might taint my own views.

I find it impossible to countenance certain types of animal coming out of the egg. I cannot even think about it being a lizard, for example.

I am convinced that it will be a special bird. I do not know in what way it will be special. I can’t seem to pin down what I think its personality will be.

One day I picture a spectacular coot. Very butch and florid. Getting up in your face. Other days it is a very calm egret, with a clever smile and a gentle crrp crrp call. 

When not daydreaming about the egg, I work harder than ever. We all do. There is an immense feeling of common purpose in the whole company. I feel emotionally closer my colleagues. It’s as though we understand each other better now we have a tangible focus beyond the success of the company.

            *

As time goes on, still avoiding specific details, I talk to people about the egg’s progress. It becomes, maybe, my thing. I bring up the subject with people quite openly, and they seem happy to share their feelings with me, within a few unspoken parameters.

For example, Chris L says he feels good when he is alone with the egg. He says that sometimes he can even hear music playing. When I press him to tell me what the music is like, he cannot answer. He just closes his eyes and moves his head as if in rapture to something slow moving. He makes small jazz-motivated gestures.

            *

After an awkward conversation with a very nosy delivery person, I put forward an “all-hands” suggestion that the reception area might not be the most suitable space to incubate the egg. Apart from our shared horror at the idea of a delivery person accidentally nudging the egg, or looking at it covetously, I feel as though more could be done to help the incubation process.

It is agreed that we must all look after the egg, taking a shift each, to ensure that whatever is inside is kept stable and healthy. During our incubation shift we are allowed to improvise and do what comes naturally to help nurture the egg. Everyone has their own approach. There are no wrong ways of doing it.

My method is to clutch the egg between my knees. I have very strong thigh and calf muscles so I am able to walk with the egg tucked up there at a fairly good speed. I also squat regularly when there are atmospheric changes, such as the doors being propped open, in order to sustain a regular temperature.

I am grateful to Gilly Beraldry who has extensive yoga knowledge. She advises me on the tension levels I should place on the egg. She shows me that by inverting the egg, I can use my knees as a steadying prop rather than relying on pressure and friction to grip the shell.

            *

Everything is going well, at home, in the office, in other people’s homes, everywhere, things are good. But then, disaster strikes the egg, and all good feeling.

            *

In week eight of the incubation period, when everything is in full swing and we are full of positivity, I arrive at work to find a grey-faced Manuel. Something has—he says. He can barely speak. I beg him to tell me what’s wrong.

It has gone cold, he says. Cold like a stone.

I go to look. The sight of the egg depresses me instantly. I feel a profound sense of loss and despair.

The texture of the shell appears shrunken and dreadful. It is coated in a kind of moss which leaves a gravelly residue on my hand when I touch it.

The feeling of the gravelly residue makes me feel unsafe. 

A meeting is instantly called in the board room. We all pile in. Dierter Laborio, who is the one on incubation duty, places the sad, cold egg on the table.

We scrutinise the egg.

The agenda of this meeting is:

    ·     Did someone’s method fail?
    ·     Has the egg been dropped?
    ·     What can be done?
    ·     We do not place blame on Dierter Laborio
    ·     Is this real?
    ·     Next steps.

After the meeting, we each have an agreed action. We cannot do anything except try to care for the egg as we were before, but now we have entered a form of hypercare mode.

We call it: Hypercare Mode.

Instead of improvised strategies and innovations for incubating the egg, we decide to create a Zone Of Nurturing and Enrichment (ZONE).

In teams, we assemble around the heat lamp which has been moved from the reception area to the break-out room—this is where the ZONE is established.

The egg is placed within a crest of bean bags that have been partially split and adapted into a loosely constructed mega-bag.

Stray microbeads and other insulation materials that make a mess are managed through an almost constant sweeping, preening and remixing regime.

Someone takes a wide dry string mop and sweeps the stray microbeads and other fibres into a loose, long pile. The pile is then silently moved to the edge of the crest and the microbeads and fibres are remixed, back into the general incubation material.

The sweeping and preening regime is partially my idea, and I am proud when one of the senior team remarks on its beneficial meditative properties as an activity, beyond its primary function of keeping the ZONE tidy and safe. 

We take it in turns to monitor the egg in the ZONE. Some shifts are evening-to-night. We must all take at least one of these per month.

My first evening-to-night watch in the ZONE is with Manuel. I feel especially excited about being there with Manuel. His love of the egg is widely regarded as the most pure because he was the one who received the egg at his home address, and then brought it in to the office. His natural happy nature, his sunshine personality, make him a good fit for this role in the egg’s life. It is difficult to resent Manuel’s special affinity.

Manuel is a great authority on the health of the egg. He is swollen with hope, he says at the start of our shift. He is filled with renewed joy.

The egg is making good progress again. The moss of sadness has dried up and crumbled off.

I confess to Manuel that I took some of the dried moss home and mixed it into my bath water to see if it has revitalising effects.

Manuel tells me he feels that the problems, as we saw them, were in fact a natural part of the egg’s process. He isn’t surprised that the moss has made me look and feel younger and more vigorous.

You have a natural understanding of the life inside the egg, he tells me. I feel amazing when Manuel speaks to me like this. I feel very special.

After my chat with Manuel, I feel a great sense of peace. I have a very chilled out conversation with the delivery person as I receive the pizza.

I am filled with joy as I open the pizza, cut the slices into more distinct slices, and pour drinks for the two of us. Everything, every tiny action is calm and has a ritualistic quality. I tell Manuel that before the egg, there was only a void.

What about your kids, dude?

A void, I say.  

Manuel cannot tell if I’m joking. Even when I reassure him that of course, my kids aren’t a void.

In fact, I say to Manuel, all I have been able to feel is an intense kind of gratitude recently. Specifically, in relation to my kids.

That’s very cool, man, Manuel says.

Yeah man! I say. When the world creates a shitty situation, like on the bus, I feel that I can choose to have a problem with it, or I can hold my children close to me and tell them how wonderful it’s going to be at the park or the café or the book shop.

Manuel says he knows what I mean.

What about you, Man? I ask. How do you feel now that there is the egg?

Manuel tells me that his feeling towards the egg is so specific that he actually cannot put it into English or Spanish words.

Unable to speak, he goes into a kind of trance. His eyebrows are fixed in a raised position, as though he has been startled by some profoundly spiritual news. I can tell that he has entered a Theta state brainwave pattern, so I put a hoody round his shoulders and sweep the area for stray microbeads and other fibres until the morning.

            *

The hatching occurs in silence.

            *

The animal is hard for each of us to describe accurately. We continue using indirect sentiments to express our love for the animal, just as we did when it was inside the egg. 

For example, instead of ‘I love their great green eyes,’ I say ‘I love the way they look at you’ because this is less controversial and is not open to debate about the animal’s exact physical appearance.

Instead of saying ‘They have lovely soft hair,’ I say, ‘I love to just stroke them.’

We manage to negotiate pronoun assumptions well enough. The animal seems to self-identify differently from colleague to colleague. It is easy to avoid arguments about this.

            *

Me and Manuel organise a spontaneous naming ceremony meeting in the ZONE.

In the meeting, Manuel leads a glorifying chant. The animal is given the name Tritty.

            *

During the first three months after Tritty’s hatching, we each spend one night per month sitting up with her. We do this in shifts, continuing the timetable we had settled into when she was in the egg.

            *

Soon, Tritty is old enough to move by herself. Tritty’s ZONE becomes more like a kindergarten.

I have a good time in there, playing skatch and hoop-head with Tritty. She is, it turns out, neither Coot nor Egret. I don’t know what she is at this stage, but I feel deep love and responsibility for her.

            *

Of course, I regularly question the reality of what is happening.

            *

I ask myself if it can really be the case that Manuel brought in this egg, and we hatched it, and I go home later and later each day, oblivious to the sadness of my children. Is it real that there is an animal? Is it real that because of this animal, I am becoming ever-more distant from the people I am supposed to love? Is it real that I feel no anguish about lying to my partner about how much pressure I am under at work, when actually I am not under any pressure at all. In fact, I am giving real love to an animal that came from an egg.

I am a success in my role. I am nailing my work. I have new ideas for ways to improve all the time. All of us are fabulously productive. It’s an amazing time.

            *

Tritty goes away one morning, and we worry when we can’t find her, but then she appears while we’re eating in the communal area.

            *

Tritty is swathed in a gown that covers all of her features. She is carrying an object. She bears the object above his head.

The object itself is about the size and depth of a quite chunky school blazer badge. Tritty bears it to the central clearing in the communal eating space. She stands in the middle of the floor, the spot where the founders make announcements during the monthly town hall meetings.

We break away from our chit-chat and quietly tidy away all signs of food. We gather in a reverential arc around Tritty.

From among us, Sophie is chosen. Tritty motions for Sophie to come forward, which she does with a lowered head. Tritty’s slow movements become injected with a clear and distinct purpose. Tritty raises up the object towards Sophie. Sophie receives the object ceremonially, with her head bowed and her hands thrust upwards. She receives the object in a way can only be instinctive because none of this has been choreographed. Until a few moments before this ceremony, all of us were just eating lunch.

And so, Sophie is the first of us to receive a talisman. We realise after the ceremony that many of us would have expected it to be Manuel.

I’m sorry, man. I say to him.

He doesn’t react. He observes Sophie and her talisman. He observes Tritty bootling about, oblivious to Manuel, as if he is nobody special.

            *

After that first talisman ceremony, Tritty’s physical development accelerates. Soon she has a clear vocal range, and the power of speech. Adam P is the first to report that he has had an actual two-way conversation with Tritty.

He tells us that thanks to Tritty, he is more aware of certain trappings and pitfalls in his life.

Tritty makes more talismans and we each receive one. All of us repeat or create our own version of Sophie’s mannered acceptance style.

Each ceremony is the same as the last one. It is repetitive and yet not even slightly boring to watch. The ceremonial feeling of being given a talisman loses none of its potency.

Across the company, love for Tritty grows.

Our productivity increases. Relationships with clients and new leads seem effortless.

Solutions to software problems appear to resolve themselves.

My talisman is a burnt webbing that represents The Shadow of The Pinnacle. I am also aware of a new motto to live by, given to me by Tritty.

            *

My motto is, ‘The rain outside the window has passed.’

            *

Concepts like the Shadow of The Pinnacle, and mottos like mine, enter our lives organically, without any of us realising it’s happening. Each of us is given two or three concepts to treasure, as well as the talisman.

Like living conceptual tarot cards, they can be characters, or more accurately, figurines. Some figurines are:

    The demon of the fever of the slowness
    The cruiser
    Hallowed children
    Energetic mow woman

Some people are bestowed moods too, sometimes referred to as energies:

    Absorption
    No longer hungering
    Hawk sounding plaza time
    Billion airs
    Children at play in the yard no longer haunt your sweet aunt

            *

Each mood or figurine is open to interpretation only by the person upon whom it is bestowed. If you want to ask someone what their mood or figurine or talisman or motto means, you have to do it outside of working hours, in a safe space for both of you. You have to be aware that it is deeply personal, and you may hear something unsettling or disruptive to your world view. If you feel uncomfortable with this, it’s best not to ask.

The general feeling is that Tritty unites us without a unifying text. We do not need to pry into another person’s Hawk sounding plaza time or know the qualities of their Laughing sound going into a nest.

            *

As suddenly as they began, the rituals come to an end. We all have our talismans. Without the ceremonies, Tritty’s routine becomes quite fixed. She appears generally during working hours only. She bimbles about, nodding appreciatively, giving each of us a few seconds of her time. A bit like a judge on that TV programme about baking. But instead of baking, it’s software development.

Soon, there are no Tritty appearances at all after six pm. This suits us all because we agree that we can’t really take Tritty out in public, and we like to go for an after-work drink pretty regularly.

            *

A few of us are in a bar when I notice that Manuel looks low in spirits.

            *

Hey Manuel, I say. What’s the big deal? You know, you look super unhappy.

And Manuel says, yeah something’s been bothering me for a while.

He whispers his words because he doesn’t want the conversation to become too public. I scootch round the table to be next to him.

Tell me, my friend. What’s up?

Manuel hunches. He moves away as I touch him on the shoulder. He is absolutely ice cold. Painfully cold to the touch. I don’t mention it, in case it throws him off.

Well, actually, he says, before I tell you anything, man, I want to be sure you’re not going to judge me too hard for it.

No way! I’m not gonna do that to you, Manuel. You’re my friend, as well as my colleague. You know? I will never judge you. You brought us Tritty!

Well, he says. To tell you the truth, I find Tritty to be a problem. All of you have been thriving, but to me, Tritty is ugly and makes me sad. I never thought I would miss a fucken egg so badly.

Manuel’s words are tough for me to hear, but I do not react.

Ok. Tell me, Manuel, what was your talisman?

Manuel gives a heavy sigh. Sorrowful water passing by in silence, he says.

Oh yeah. I remember, I say. It’s beautiful. It’s like you, Manuel. It’s so powerful, like a force of nature. But also, with great integrity.

Yeah.

We sit for a while in silence because at this stage, we normally have a repeated conversation in which the one speaking about their talisman describes how amazing it makes them feel. But it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. Manuel is not taking his part in it

Instead he sits looking like the world is coming apart. He is cold enough to freeze water.

I find Tritty hideous, he spits suddenly. Tritty is an vulgar, sleazy curse in our lives.

I am shocked, but I stay calm. But Manuel! What about the good things that have been happening since Tritty came along?

It’s a coincidence.

I say, I can tell this is causing you a lot of pain to talk this way. I hate to see you suffering.

Tritty is all over me! He says, spittle forming at the sides of his mouth. He is on me whenever we are alone. His skin is like wet wood.

I don’t disclose this, but I find it amazing to hear about Manuel’s physical contact with Tritty. I have never touched Tritty, and never seen anyone else make physical contact.

Manuel tells me how like dead skin Tritty feels. How like a rubbery, cold eel, tense and evil under his touch. He tells me that he thinks Tritty belongs in a lab and we should tell the government.

            *

I manage to convince Manuel not to tell the government about Tritty, and in return I agree to do talk with Tritty and explain how Manuel feels, and try to find a path to a resolution.

            *

I head back to the office building. I tell Saint Holland the night security guard that I have left something unfinished in the office.

I tell him the name of our company and show my card.

Saint Holland doesn’t mind. He’s got his book, so if it’s all the same, he says he won’t accompany me up in the lift, as he would normally.

As the office lights flicker into life, I call to Tritty in my unique way.

Brrrrup. Herrrrup, I say. Sort of like a soft goose. I also do my actions, which too are goose-like. A soft goose on the wing.

Tritty comes Mooching across the tiles of the office as usual. She is looking shyly left and right, and up and down. Tritty is small, about the size of a young Labrador, but of course with two gorgeous human male legs, and with a torso covered in glittering golden feathers.

Tritty does not have a beak, but rather a stubby, somewhat crocodilian muzzle, crushed up into a stub. The colour of Tritty’s stub is a very deep rich peach.

Hi Tritty, I say. You know, Manuel is struggling. Is there anything we can do? 

Tritty tells me nothing. I ask if it’s private.

Tritty indicates that yes, it is a private issue between him and Manuel.

But what can I do to help? You know, part of my job, a big part of my job is about cohesion with Manuel. I also, emotionally, I feel like the idea of Manuel feeling such animosity towards you, Tritty. It just makes me—are you listening? Tritty? Ok, yes. Yes. Yes.

I say yes because while I talk, Tritty gazes at my talisman, interrupting my flow and demanding my attention.

I should say that in the beginning, I wear my talisman around my neck. After time, the light, ephemeral substance Tritty made it from binds with the flesh around my sternum.

In fact, every talisman Tritty makes binds, on a molecular level, to the flesh of the wearer.

And Tritty gazes at mine to remind me of its meaning. Which is, as I said, Passing rain no longer outside the window. It means I have to listen to my own voice. I have to listen to what I want, and not worry so much about others.

Yes yes Tritty. The rain has passed outside the window. It has, but I am thinking of myself, really. I need to know what’s wrong with Manuel.

Tritty becomes evasive.

I raise my voice, just very slightly, to ask Tritty to stand still and tell me what’s going on with Manuel. My raised voice is a momentary fissure, nothing more, in which I intimate to Tritty that Manuel, as a human being deserves my consideration, and that Tritty should do everything to help me.

            *

Tritty looks at me for a long while, with a sarcastic expression on her muzzle. And then, without warning, exposes the gentle head of a teacher.

The gentle head of a teacher emerges from the plume of feathers around Tritty’s throat.

It is attached by a kind of stalk of a neck. The stalk-neck is quite weak, and the head lilts and smiles benignly.

Tritty begins moving his body about abruptly, rushing around the floor space in the ZONE, causing the gentle head of the teacher to drag along the ground.

The face of the gentle teacher looks shocked that Tritty is allowing this to happen. Allowing its head to bounce painfully and drag its teeth against the hard floor tiles.

The face of the gentle teacher has no voice. There is no breath at all in it, so the movements of the mouth make a wet clicking sound, and the inside of the mouth finishes in a shallow throat, it has about the same capacity of a small sports sock, unstretched.

Tritty is proud of this behaviour.

I feel quite sick. As if all the negative feelings that Tritty helped me remove over the last few months, and during the time of the egg, have all come rushing back now with a terrible force.

Tritty, what have you done? I ask. What have you done to Manuel?

Before Tritty can answer, I realise I am holding the heavy pole we use to open the high window in the atrium area of the office.

What have you been doing to him? I repeat.

Tritty tries to distract me by insinuating that the Snow will not come again for seven years.

I haven’t got time to interpret this information properly, and I raise my voice even more loudly than before. I shout at Tritty.

Tritty! Gentle teacher, I appeal to you too! Tell me what you did to Manuel. Tell me or else—

I am interrupted by another voice. Not Tritty, or the gentle teacher.

Everything alright, Ben? Says the voice. It’s Saint Holland. He is standing with his legs shoulder-width apart, and his back straight, in between the double doors of the lift vestibule.

With him is Kate W from the senior team.

Kate, I’m sorry to be here late, like this, but I saw Manuel earlier. He’s sick. There’s something the matter with him. He’s been, I don’t know the word, contaminated.

And even though at the time it didn’t register with me, I can now picture vividly that Manuel has a substantial, festering wound on the side of his body.

He’s got a kind of infliction, I say to Kate W. On his side. Like a ragged cut, and I think it came from Tritty.

I make a gesture towards Tritty.

Alright, says Kate W. Well, I think the first thing that needs to happen is that you put that pole down.

Saint Holland steps towards me. Saint Holland is not a frightening man physically. He’s a student. He reads books about architecture all night and then hits the gym, mostly to work on his cardio. But he knows how to commit to the moment. He knows how to respond to a threat.

Put it down, eh? He says.

I am. I am just putting it away, I say, laughing at the pole.

There is an additional moment in which I still don’t move. And nor does anyone else. I realise that if I remain motionless even a second more, then I will be irreversibly perceived as a threat.

I laugh and then calmly put the pole back where it belongs, which of course involves going to the other side of the office, round where the presales team sit. I take a few breaths after returning the pole to its place. I try to steady my nerves with some micro-meditations.

When I return, Tritty has gone. As has Saint Holland.

Kate W is alone. She sits at one of the communal tables. She is calmer than before. The atmosphere is more relaxed. There are lamps glowing. She has poured us a drink from the Friday drinks supply.

Sit down, Kate says.

The way she says it reminds me of why she’s one of the best people I have ever worked with. I sit down.

I’m sorry about the way you saw me with Tritty, I say. I wasn’t going to do anything. The pole I had in my hand, was not intended for—

Don’t worry, Kate W says. She leans towards me, across the table. She has an earnest expression on her face. You are right about Manuel, she says. He was wounded during a one-to-one with Tritty earlier this week. He’s been keeping it a secret from everyone. Tell me, did he show you the wound?

No. I couldn’t see it at the time. We were just talking, but now the memory of it is there, in my head. I don’t know how to explain it to you. I could show you exactly where it is on his body, but I haven’t witnessed it full on.

Can you picture it for me? 

I tenderly picture Manuel. Kate W does the same. Tritty has taught us this. An exercise in which we are each able to jointly render an imagined form and explore it together with descriptions and gestures. We have used it to model data architecture. We have used it to embody a road map during presentations and internal workshops.

This is the first time we have used this technique to conjure up the actual body of a co-worker with a wound.

Kate W wonders, should we check his hands and feet? For puncture wounds?

No, I say. Manuel isn’t Jesus. I’m pretty sure of that.

Yeah, true. But it is a nasty wound in his side. He should be taken to a hospital.

I agree.

Since neither of us are able to drive, and Manuel is likely to be wondering the streets at this time, Kate calls her husband who works nearby. He comes straight over in his car.

I think Mr W’s first name is Ian, but I have no way of confirming that as we drive around, scanning the dark world for Manuel. Mr W is very impressive as a person. He is confident, and the steering wheel makes a smooth, sensual noise when he lets it slip back into the straight-ahead position after turning a corner.

Kate W and I search for a sign of Manuel as we cruise around. Neither of us speaks for a while, but when we do, it is initiated by Kate W.

I can’t see him, she says. This is no good, try down there. Down Green Swan Lane.

My role is to say, yes, that looks like a good place to try. There’s certainly no sign of him here. Maybe Green Swan Lane is the next logical place.

Then Kate W nods, looking away from me. She seems very relaxed. She doesn’t call her husband by his name.

I’m glad it’s you, Kate W says, after getting nowhere with Green Swan Lane.

Thanks Kate. That means a lot.

Her husband drives on through the night. All of us are studiously scanning the glittering streets. It is Mr W who, quite suddenly and manfully, declares—he’s there.

Kate W confirms. That’s him.

I agree too. Manuel is there, slumped on the pavement.

Manuel is in a bad way when we find him. His skin has greyed at the neck. He is no longer ice cold, but more like a kind of dead cold. He is just the temperature of the night air. I am amazed he is even alive, but he is. A stream of nonsensical statements comes out of his loose mouth.

Tritty is evil, Manuel keeps saying as we carry him. He is completely delirious.

Get him into this building, Kate W says.

It is amazing how Kate W is still in control of this situation, even though we are well outside of the context of the SaaS startup that she founded.

We carry Manuel into a tall building.

In the building, Kate W’s husband opens a seemingly random door. This way he says. He is much shorter than I was expecting.

This way this way, he says.

We are inside a flat. We follow a narrow, gleaming corridor that opens out into a large, industrial style kitchen. There is exposed brick above the double hob. Copper pans hang in bunches from steel beams.

Get him on the table, says Kate W’s husband. Although he doesn’t actually speak, I just know that he has spoken these words.

It is a bad wound, Kate W says. It will need to be filled with wadding.

I cannot speak clearly in order to agree with Kate W.

I am coping with the realisation that Kate W’s husband is actually Tritty.

The soft man can also be wadding, Tritty/Kate W’s husband says.

I am not wadding, I say.

Temporarily, yes, you are wadding. If you are not wadding, then Manuel will be lost. The hole in Manuel’s side cannot be healed with tape or lace or thread like a normal human wound. It must be wadded.

Tritty takes my left hand. He pinches the skin of my index finger. He tugs at my skin.

I feel uncomfortable, I say to Kate W. Even though we are no longer in a work context, I want to make it known that this situation is making me feel very uncomfortable.

Tritty continues to tug at the skin on my hand, digging into my flesh, cutting. But I do not bleed. Instead, my hand, my flesh and my bones become fibrous, like frayed wool.

Tritty continues to tug at me until my whole body is frayed. I become entirely made from a dense wadding material.

Tritty slowly feeds me into the wound in Manuel’s side.

They tell me, the whole time, that it will only be for an interim period until Manuel is able to heal himself.

Tritty intimates to me that the former clouds have become the wine of glory and happiness.

When the wadding process is complete, I feel no pain. I feel the goodness in Manuel’s slowly healing body.

Apart from my new physical state, life continues as usual.

I make contact with my family. They say they understand. My children say they do not miss me too badly. I do my best to heal Manuel more quickly. His input is needed in the office. We miss his qualities of thoroughness, and his seemingly depthless product knowledge.

I am wadding. The office is better. I absorb the liquids produced by Manuel’s wound.

I am removed from the wound after six weeks. There is a general agreement that I should be given a more senior role, at least in name, if not in remuneration. My peers respect me in a new way. They call Manuel the Egg Man and they call me the Wadding.

            *


︎  How far do you agree with this statement:
        The palm snow falls on the upturned face of only one fox? ︎



    1.    Strongly agree
    2.    Agree to some extent
    3.    Neither agree nor disagree
    4.    Disagree but not strongly
    5.    Strongly disagree
    6.    This sentence is a lie and I would like to make a formal complaint









Ben Pester is a writer based in London.
He has studied at the University of Exeter and Bournemouth University.
He lives in Harringay with his partner and two children.






2019




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Hotel is a magazine for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. The magazine is bi-annual, the online archive is updated periodically.

The paper Hotel is designed & typeset by Niall Reynolds
Hotel
is edited by Jon Auman, Thomas Chadwick & Dominic Jaeckle


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2019
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