Accident no.27

2009

For weeks now I have been erasing the surfaces of my new home. I can’t believe that I’ve done this, but I’ve bought a flat in Berlin. Wandering around the dusty rooms I don’t really trust they are mine. The flat is beautiful but every surface has been made ugly. I’ve ripped up laminate flooring to reveal floorboards covered in paint. I’ve stripped wood-chip paper from every wall that, in turn, has revealed ancient and crumbling plaster. I have scraped, and filled, and sanded, and filled, and listened to bad radio long into the night (working by the light from a single bulb). I’ve knocked down walls and made-good and everywhere dust has become my enemy. The inside of my nose is a Martian landscape and when my dog shakes himself he disappears in a cloud of white powder. The dust seems to have worked its way into my brain and I have become incapable of intelligent thought beyond judging holes and cracks and surfaces. My body aches, my palms are sandpaper and I am slowly acquiring small cuts like jewellery over my hands, ankles and knees.

Finally I am ready to sand the floors and a huge lawnmower-machine is delivered to the flat. In clouds of wood dust, through fogged goggles, beneath orange ear-protectors that only just dim the unbelievable roar; I have battled with this monster. My body is lighter and weaker than his and it is only through cunning that I can wrench the machine back on my course. I’m nearly done. I’m using the monster’s apprentice (a smaller spinning-disk-thing) to finish the edges and corners. The gyroscope momentum of the screeching disk is battling against my tired limbs. The blade catches under a doorframe and the beast explodes out of my hands. It twists through the air, lands on my foot, runs across the floor on its blade and screams to itself in a corner. I rip out the plug and the grinding slowly dies. Everything is quiet and for a moment I can’t bring myself to look down at my ankle.