I can’t smell anything anymore. I used to notice the smell in here every day. Sweat. The dirty smell of socks. The fogginess of all our breath. We don’t go outside anymore; all day I’m smelling sweat and socks and fogginess. I don’t notice it like I did before when we used to go outside and then we would come back.
We never went outside-outside, like outside, but we used to step out of the fort into Andy’s bedroom every day at 2.15. Domino’s Pizza starts delivery at 2. Not many people order delivery that early, so we’d have a pizza at our door by 2.15. But we don’t order pizza anymore. Eating just means that eventually you’ll have to leave to do a poo.
I’m looking at my reflection on my laptop screen. My skin looks great lately, but my hair is really fucked. The boys don’t get nearly as bad bed hair as me, it’s seriously fucked. Andy keeps telling me to go get a comb from his bedroom, but as if he has a comb, he has boy’s hair. He’s such a bad liar. He’s trying to get me to go outside. Not outside-outside, like outside, but out into his bedroom. The rule is: if you go outside then you lose a day, as in it doesn’t count as a day that you’ve been in here. Whoever stays in the fort longest wins, so I’m not going outside to stretch my legs or to find a comb or to get a pizza or do a poo because I want to win. The winner gets a plasma TV. I want to win the plasma TV so I can watch Friends on the big screen, bigger than my laptop.
Have you seen the episode of Friends where they build the blanket fort in their lounge? Or the one where they get locked in the bedroom? What about the one where Ross’s girlfriend shaves her head? Classic!
That’s mostly what we do in here. We’ve watched all ten seasons and are currently running through the episodes for the second time. When we’re not watching Friends sometimes I just look at my friends. Laying on my left side I like to count the flecks of dandruff in Andy’s hair. Laying on my right I count the pimples and small red scars on William’s cheeks. Sometimes I lay on my back with my laptop on my stomach: my desktop background is a photo of The Friends eating pizza. They eat a lot of pizza in New York.
We built our fort with a blanket and two bed sheets; Andy, William and me. The sheets are beige and the blanket is pastel blue. With the added glow of MacBook light, this place is seriously ambient. We’re not too cramped, although lately I have felt William’s hipbones knocking against my own. We’re getting closer and closer together in this small space each day as the fat that pads our bodies gradually sheds, we’re sinking in to one another. I do miss Domino’s pizza, but I like how my new body feels: skinny, like one of the girls on Friends. Have you seen the episode of Friends where Monica tries to help Chandler lose weight?
We avoid starving to death by eating any stale crusts, dollops of tomato paste and pieces of processed meat we find between the sheets. I haven’t found any scraps the last two days. Just the patch of burnt crumbs that are prickling me below my neck. I’m worried they’re giving me a rash. Have you seen the episode of Friends where Phoebe gets a bad rash? Charlie Sheen is a guest star, even he looks bad with a rash.
If I leave I could take the sheet with me and shake out all these crumbs. And while I’m outside I could order a pizza, and some lemonade! But those 1.25 litre bottles from Domino’s are killer. They create so many trips to the bathroom that I might end up having to leave again tonight and tomorrow morning; that’s two days lost, and I really want to win that Friends soundtrack.
Do you know if you only drink just enough water to stay alive then you don’t need to pee anymore? At all. Ever. You just don’t need to go. Now we have all this extra time we re-watch our favourite Friends episodes, and our bodies are perfectly in balance. When Friends isn’t on I just stare at The Friends on my laptop and think of all the great new things I’m learning in here, like that people eat pizza in New York and that if you only drink just enough water to stay hydrated then you don’t need to pee anymore.
Andy learned recently that Jennifer Anniston gets almost three times as many lines as Lisa Kudrow in Friends. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I can’t fact check it for a while, at least a day, because I’m starting to feel like if I hear canned laughter again too soon I might do something crazy. Have you seen the Friends episode where Joey punches Ross in the face?
William learned recently that even if you’ve only been drinking just enough water to stay alive, when you vomit from food poisoning you’ll still vomit mostly liquid, cups and cups of clear liquid even though you haven’t drunk more than a cup in days.
He’s refusing to clean it. He’s saying if he’s eating old food from the floor and throwing up on himself then he isn’t going to lose a day by going outside to clean the sheets. Isn’t that disgusting? Is that disgusting? Have you seen the episode of Friends where they all eat food off the floor and then vomit on each other?
Maybe he’s not cleaning it because he thinks we’ll leave. He thinks we won’t be able to stand the smell or we’ll want to change our clothes and we’ll leave and he’ll be winning. Friends should not vomit on friends though. We’re supposed to be friends, seriously, fuck William. Fuck him. I’m leaving! Who wants to win a subscription to TV Week anyway!
But William is so funny. He does the best Joey impressions, he’s really like the Chandler of our group. Friends should not compete with friends… (Unless you’re Monica.)
Maybe I could just leave for a little while. I’ll change into pants with no vomit stains, comb my hair and order a pizza. The boys will let me come back in. I’ll lose one day off my score, but for days after that I’ll be finding pizza scraps in the sheets. Imagine that, having those scraps to look forward to. Even if it means I lose, I don’t remember who is funding the trip to Bali anyway. I don’t remember when we decided the winner gets an all expenses paid trip to Bali.
I remember we were at this party. It smelled like beer and sweat and breath. There was cheesy music and the sound of heaps of boys laughing, like canned laughter on repeat. People at the party kept asking me what I’m studying. What do you study again? It’s Arts right? What are you going to do when you finish?
I remember Andy saying we should leave; he wanted to watch Friends together. William and I went with him because I like watching TV with my friends and William likes the sound of canned laughter. Have you seen the episode of Friends with the canned laughter?
Now here we all are. I wish there was a way for me to satisfy my hunger without having to leave or eat off the floor. I wish there was something here with me, always, that I could suckle on and gnaw at. Something to sustain me the way food does, but something that won’t leave me bloated, vomiting, or bursting to pee. Like taking drugs. Like a drip. Like life support.
I find my first scrap in days and it is a good one. Andy used to order the meat lovers but I don’t remember the sausages from Domino’s being this long, almost two inches, and tasty. It tastes so good. I remember I used to like hot dogs but I don’t remember hot dogs being so salty. I’m worried I will be thirsty soon. I am, I’m thirsty but water will make pee and pee will make me leave. I don’t want water. I’m thirsty, but I can’t stop. I can’t stop eating this meat; sinewy, juicy, meaty. I don’t remember sausage casings having callouses, I like them—they’re crunchy. William learned that Domino’s meat is cruelly butchered and highly processed, but I can’t believe him, only real meat has bones like this; this is 100 per cent pork. I wasn’t excited about winning a meat tray before, but now; you must try it. There are four more little sausages, laying just beside where I found this one; sinewy, juicy, meat tray.
Have you seen that episode of Friends, “The One Where Phoebe eats Joey’s Finger”?
Now I know I’m going to win. Andy and William will have to leave soon to clean the red and brown from their bodies. But I don’t want my friends to leave. I like the way we lay here. We’re nestled together; our knees are a row of arrows pointing in the same direction. It’s me on the end and then him, then him, then her, then him, no, no, sorry it’s her next, then him, then her, then him, and then him on the other end. It’s not too cramped, the nine of us together. It must smell though. It has to. It must smell in here like vomit and blood and also I can smell sweat and socks and our breath and also all these other scents that I cannot name, but that are familiar and that comfort me.
Allee Richards is a playwright based in Melbourne. Her plays have been performed in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. In 2015 she took part in the Australian Theatre for Young People’s National Studio where she was mentored by playwright Lachlan Philpott. Her next play is being developed with Lonely Company in 2016. Her fiction has been published in Voiceworks and Visible Ink.