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Another weekend under quarantine. This morning there were sirens, where I am.

I'd like to leave the house for a bit. Come with me?

Drop me an object-themed emoji? I'll write you a place you've seen before, and long to see again.
1:⛽️At home, with your husband carrying your crying son; your mother on the phone, chattering-

You miss the rig.

It was no less of a pressure-cooker: sixty crew in a football field crammed with gear, crude, a gas flare.

But there, on the deck -wind on an open sea.

2:🔦The light on your suit casts a wavering disc. Hadal amphipods and jellies drift into its beam, then dart away.

You waddle up a dead driveway. Shine your light through the windows of a ruined house. You once lived here. Squid and spiderfish live in it, now.

3:🎠Carousel Station comes into view as your ketch clears the asteroid.

You managed Carousel for years. Fought to keep it out of anarch hands. Then it was hit by pirates, and the Corp wrote it off.

You shake off your sentimentality, and give the order to fire.

4:⚗️Every night, the Queen drew you into her realm: a place of wonder and gossamer delights. The best nights of your life.

Then the Queen tired of you.

Now you spend your nights imbibing hallucinogenic poisons. You will return to Her parlour. Even if it kills you.

5:🍑He used handmade peach-and-peppermint soap. You stole a bar of it from his bathroom, the last day you spent together.

You didn't ask where he got it from. You've scoured weekend flea markets, since. No luck. It shrinks. You ration it. You use it once a week.

6:🏝️The isle of Susile is alive. Its spirit shuffles the barrier reefs around; invading ships invariably run aground.

To land safely, bring:

A shaman, to sing;
A pot of palm wine, to pour in the bay;
A humble heart -so you can kiss wet sand, and thank Susile.

7:🧉SongLine provides full-sensory holiday experiences, delivered to you via brain-jack.

The package you bought has made you wistful for the warmth of a horse, the taste of mate, and sunset on the Argentine plain.

You are also now loyal only to SongLine, Inc.

8:💫Walks with Lady Xiu on the boardwalk of Emerald Lake;
That one night with Etienne in the Red Lantern District;
A weekend arguing anarchist theory with Sarai in the shadow of the Brass Orrery-

This city is crowded with lovers. You are thinking of leaving.

9:💃In his antique shop, Mr Singh tilts the remains of a music box. Its gears are crumbling rust. Its porcelain ballerina is missing a leg.

"I'm sorry, Mrs Singh," he says, blinking back tears.

"It's okay," you want to say -but the dead do not answer the living.

10:🌋The mountain exploded and Xinmen died.

Its red walls, sprawling-maze piers; its dancing princes, weeping merchants; its rice farmers hunched under the mountain's shadow.

The mountain exploded and Xinmen died. Its ghosts watch from ragged boats, in the bay.

11:🍯Far from all harbours, hopelessly lost-

Here the water begins to glow like golden honey. A woman rises. She wears a helm of ammonite shell, holds aloft a sword of sea-glass.

St Celeste of the Sea, who points sailors home -who you got lost just to see again.

12:🏕️A ghetto of tents, pitched in the national park. Drugs, drink, love, festival sex.

Electroclash among the trees. Dancing bodies glimpsed in morning fog.

You'd mis-spend such youth a second time- but you cannot sleep in tents, anymore. Your back won't let you.

13:🦖Walking hunched, elbows to your tummy, V-signs on both hands to simulate Tyrannosaur forelimbs-

You bite your mother's thigh and draw blood. You aren't playing. You have a sauropod's soul. You remember the warm world, before. You remember the sky falling.

14:🗝️You lock the door; shutter the windows.

You think you can still hear your students, chanting the Serrese alphabet over their chalk sheets:

"Na, ko, pa, go, no-"

But the white invaders have banned Serrese. Only English may be spoken in their territories.

15:🩰You find your old shoes in a box on a high shelf. They are moth-bitten, and no longer fit.

You think of your teacher, fierce Mdm Gissaud; you think of sobbing into the conservatory mirror. You go to your toes, and lift a battement clear past your shoulder.

16:🪔They slaughtered the priests, snuffed out the Eternal Fire.

Holy Kilwa -then but an altar boy- stole a glowing coal, swallowed it, and escaped. Later he burst into flames. He gave his body so the Fire could burn, always.

We light these lamps for Holy Kilwa.

17:🏷️There are so many baggage tags on your drag-along, its handle no longer properly retracts.

You keep them as reminders. "Bali, Greece, Paris." You point to each one. "Precious memories!"

The counter lady rips them off, one by one. "Travel hazard," she says.

18:🧲Strange how, even though you and Sylvia lost touch for a decade-

Something let you to end up in the same city, at the same flea market, on the same day, in front of the same display of novelty fridge magnets-

Strange how the heart follows its lodestone.

19:🎟️Your wallet is a wad of paper receipts in a raggedy shred of leather.

"Time to throw it away?" Sylvia says.

Your first date, you and Sylvia went to a play. Beckett's Happy Days, at the Storeroom Theatre. You find the stubs sandwiched between parking slips.

20:☕️Too cold to shiver, with your dogs dead and the blinding wind howling, with your last biscuit eaten and your last battery drained-

You drag your sled onward, and think of the coffee in the Knudsen Station mess:

Bitter, with no milk- and hot, hot, hot.

That's it, I guess!

There were so many emojis, but I only managed twenty. (Today I felt like a bowl with a hole -just couldn't retain anything.)

But thank you, dear friends, for coming along with me. <3
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