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The envelope falls from her bag as she stands up to leave. I reach out to where it’s fallen, pick it up and turn to tell her… No words come out. My thumb rubs the paper. It is thick; coarse. No address. Curiosity takes hold, and I slip it into my pocket.

In my apartment, I open it, unfolding crisp eggshell leaves patterned with ink. Sitting by the fire, light dancing across the pages, my heart pounds. She narrates to her husband the ways in which her passion has ebbed away; how her heart, leeched of the warmth of love for him, resembled the cold sandstone walls of their home.

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You stood in your garden, and looked up towards the house. Thick iron drainpipes rise and fall on either end of the gable, and an abstract mesh of sills and gutters. There are thick braces hammered into the walls, and everything reminds you of your guilt and the heaviness of your wedding ring; the house is bound. You look at it, and see yourself.

That first time you saw him was at Muriel’s lawn party. You saw how easy he was in that company, the way he would stand and gesticulate and how it all seemed to fall into place for him. When he grinned, you felt drawn to him; to a warmth not felt in a long time.

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You met one late evening in the garden of your house.

Ice clinks against the side of a glass as he talks to one of his old shooting mates. You hold your breath, listening to the soles of their shoes scuffling across the sandstone terrace. After they’ve gone, you make your way to the weeping willow. In the darkness, the light from his cigarette bobs as he draws in breath.

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“There are no secrets in life, just hidden truths lying beneath the surface.”

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsey

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You stand on the threadbare rug, facing the fire, letting the half-forgotten narratives of ended authors flow over you. You ponder the romanticism of nature. You tried to explain this to him once, that you wanted to get back to earth. How you once, as a child, had walked for miles one cool summer, the dew gathering on the hem of your skirt. But you felt uncomfortable, constrained by societies expectations, and stopped.

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We humans are fearful by nature – it is usually another person who is the catalyst for change, yet they are not often the cause. Change results from within. When I first picked up your letter and began to read, I felt something inside me, a suggestion you had changed; both of you, and for the better. When love captures us, draws us to its bosom, we accept it. Tragedy would befall the world if our emotions and spirits were to be amputated at the alter, our lives becoming empty landscapes.

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Every time you come back to the house, you feel the life drain away from you. You are an empty shell. The garden becomes your saviour; you are naked in the sight of Nature. Your summer house becomes a shrine, a symbol of your passion. In it you keep your secret, a note James once wrote. It sits in a small wooden box, and you were so afraid once that you thought he would find it. He came looking for you one evening and upon finding the doors unlocked walked into the tabernacle: that sacrosanct space. You had caught him running his thumb over that place that had been chipped when you moved into his house, his world. You startled him as you came through the door. He said what he had to say, and left.

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You focus on the ground, and your fingers play with the button on your coat. The sound of his voice is drowned by the sound of your blood in your ears. His hand rests on yours. You loosen your grip on the button, and turn your face toward his.

He walks away from you. It feels as though there is a rope wrapped about your heart, tightening with each slow step. The breath he breathed into your soul ebbs. Hot tears carve shiny tracks onto the surface of a cold face. You stay there awhile, dazed. Slowly, the world comes back into focus and you look up, the summer sun already drying your tears and you feel your skin tighten where they have flowed.

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Your hands shake as you pull up the handbrake, switch off the engine. Stepping out, you see him standing on the grass; a beacon to the moth of your emotion. He faces away from you as you cross the driveway to the gate but turns when it creaks open on rusty hinges. And you see that his face has changed; wrought with sorrow. You go towards him, clear drops of dew falling from your summer shoes, and you embrace each other. Ha falls to his knees, and lies his face against your abdomen. Cancer. He doesn't have long. He wants to go back to the apartment in Greenwich Village. Back to how you used to be together. You will be there for him, won't you? You do still love him, don't you?

The next day you go to the beach where you and James had a picnic once. You sit down, digging your feet into the sand, feeling the grit between your toes, and envisage that you are telling him about what has happened. You can imagine his face if you told him, how he would hold your hand as you did. You can see the way his eyes would search your own, but you cannot imagine his response

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I stand on the bridge overlooking the platform, watching as the people leave the train. Even now I see patterns in their walks; how they avoid touching each other, how they go out of their way to avoid one another. The clock reads five minutes to the hour and when my train will arrive. I clutch my ticket in my hand.

It is not until I am halfway home that I realise this is the same train we took together, the same carriage, the same seats upholstered in deep red. They are frayed, and there are stains on the veneered table I rest my elbows upon. 'Stacey likes it rough' is etched into the window frame. I begin to notice the fraying seats we sat on; I play with a strand of it that comes from the divide between the chairs. I try to flatten it down with my thumb and forefinger until i reach the underside, when I notice someone has stuck gum there. I quickly retract my fingers.

ANDREA ALLAN

ARTIST STATEMENT


During the composition of this work I was keenly interested in exploring photography's functional capacity to operate a narrative line. Also, in how the medium, at its fundamental operational level, can produce an instantaneous output of reality, and how such reality is subject to issues of representation and interpretation.

By overtly juxtaposing small blocks of text with photographs in context I was further able to explore the relationships between text the written word and text the photograph, exploring ways in which to guide the observer's interpretation. Whilst on their own the photographs may be interpreted as having a loose narrative structure, the deployment of a written accompaniment enhances the subjectivity of individual interpretation by identifying one single strand of interpretation from limitless potentialities of representation.

ANDREA ALLAN

BIOGRAPHY