Category Archives: NaNoWriMo


I gave up on NaNoWriMo. I’m just not into it this year. Le sigh.

Things feel… strange these days. The past creeps into the present like silk or molasses. I don’t quite know what to make of it, but it hasn’t hurt me yet, so I’m letting it. I want to know what has changed and what has remained the same. I want to know who has changed, and who has remained the same.

No long, self-centered post today. Just quiet.


I think I need to go paint.





If you’ve been wondering where I am, I’m doing NaNoWriMo as well as uni final assessments.

I do not have the time to blog, my darlings!

In the mean time, you can keep track of how badly I’m making my brain suffer with this:

My handy-dandy NaNoWriMo wordcount-o-meter.

Tidbit: Patient Zero



Spring, the following year.
I move in. Yelena and Veronika help me relocate my meagre possessions from my apartment to their family home. The day is hot, the sky clear, and as I make my way up the wooden steps to the front door I’m greeted with a chorus of bees and suburban birdsong.
The world seems somehow lighter in this big house with the rain-stained windows and brightly coloured walls. Art decorates every surface- tiny sculptures, blotchy paintings, dainty photographs- and everything in the kitchen is mismatched. Yelena shows me her espresso machine, and we laugh about how the bright red matches Veronika’s lipstick. It is the kind of moment that belongs in polaroid photographs, stuck to a wall with aging blue-tac and a scribbled note: ‘Lena and Mary, coffee in the spring.’ perhaps.
Vero watches with a quiet smile, but then her beeper trills and she excuses herself. I catch a glimpse of hard muscles beneath soft skin as she collects her purse and bag, rushing out the door with an air of urgency.
Yelena laces her hands around my belly. She stands behind me as I watch Vero’s car pull out of the driveway, bathed in fallen wisteria blossoms. “She works for the army, medicine things, very complicated and boring ljubov.”
Her voice makes me giddy and I can’t help but laugh. Confusion crosses her face as I twist on the ball of my foot to encircle her in my arms. Her eyes glitter and her kiss tastes sweet. Her lips are painted with honey. I want to lay her on the floorboards and claim her, but now is not the time. Heat flushes her cheeks, she leans against me for just a little longer than necessary; Suddenly overwhelmed with love I find myself grinning.

“You are so beautiful.”

The smile I’ve come to adore creeps across her face and she laughs with me. Disentangling herself from my embrace she grasps my hand. Her cold and crooked fingers tug me away from the window. I notice the strange outward curve of her nails as they brush my skin. “Come!”

Down hallways, padding across musical wooden floors, we navigate the rooms. Yelena introduces me to each one as if it is a person in itself- “This is Nika’s room, very neat, see? It rattles in the night, I think it sings to her.”- and her hands brush the doors lovingly, grasping the overly high doorhandles with the same gentleness she treated me to when I first met her. Each door is pale pine, each room a cohesive world behind it, a story of the things it contains.
Our room is warm, modern, with multicoloured curtains and fairylights above the bed. It smells like sandalwood and amber. The pillows smell like her.
I move to kiss her but she skips away, laughing, reminding me I haven’t seen the rest of the house yet. She takes my hand again, and the tour continues.


It is the autumn of 2012. I am nineteen, naked in the studio of Yelena Konstantinov. It is the first time I have met her in person, and though I don’t know it yet, I am in love.
Yelena’s hand peels carefully from my hip, the only slice of flesh unswaddled by silk, and hovers nervously above her handiwork. There on the faint olive of my skin is an off-white hand print, lined and spiked in the shapes of her long fingers. Even the scar on her palm came through, a slight depression in the paint. A chill sets in immediately and then my skin begins to tighten, the paint already drying in the cold air. I peer at it a moment and then lay down, sprawled and relaxed.
“Stay there.” She flashes me a smile. Cherry lipbalm, shiny white teeth. “You are comfortable?”
“Yes, thankyou.” The couch is surprisingly comfortable, if ancient and broken. A bass cacophony erupts from the aged support beams whenever I move. The silk rustles. I let it brush my lips, watching Yelena’s perfectly shaped ass swing from side to side as she returns to stand by her canvas. She twists and I look away, feigning disinterest.
She begins her work.
Half an hour passes as I lie sanguine on the couch, wrapped in black silk, watching her sketch shapes onto a canvas with an oil pencil. She sings to herself in melodic Russian, a lullaby I’ve never heard, and glances at me through stray strands of her hair. Animal green eyes flashing through a torrent of dark chocolate.
“You are a good model.” She says eventually, standing back from the easel, her gaze flicking rapidly between me and the canvas. She sweeps in suddenly and adds a few quick modifications to the image, and then repeats the process. “Do you do this often?”
“Modelling?” She nods, and I roll the silk against my lip again. “No, not really. It’s not that hard just to lay still for a couple of hours.”
A tinkling laugh graces her lips and dimples her cheeks, lending her body a cheerful exuberance that translates into the painting. Bright colours emerge through the back of the canvas as the light seeps through. Rose Madder, Indigo, Australian Grey. I can see the tubes of paint resting on the splattered table next to her. She paints with great energy, using sweeping movements for lines, scrubbing at the canvas with a rough-haired brush to fill in the white space. It’s almost as if she is dancing with the image, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet in tandem with the movements of her arms. Dust particles drift down from the ceiling, caught in the fluorescent lights dangling overhead. Night falls outside and I find myself getting sleepy, drifting off to the sound of her singing and the scratching of the brush. Euphoria takes me.

Yelena wakes me some time later with a gentle touch, murmuring my name.
“Mary.” A whisper, soft against my shoulder. “Mary.”
She hovers near me, peering into my eyes. I smell turpentine, oil paints and liquid medium, and suddenly I want to kiss her.
Her eyes are warm. Understanding. She beats me to it, grasping my neck, pressing her mouth to mine. Her kisses are hungry, sweet, tasting of nougat and coffee. Her breath is hot. Her fingers are cold.
We roll together and crush the silk, and forget the world outside.

Tidbit: Patient Zero

Intro to Patient Zero


Below is the intro to the story I’ll be writing for NaNoWriMo.


As I stand here, in the dark humid warmth of this abandoned studio, memories flicker like old photographs superimposed over everything I see. I can feel the softness of the pink couch without touching it, the sharp points of dried paint on dusty palettes, the elastic fabric of the canvasses. It has been five years, though in here, in this anachronistic space, it seems like fifty have passed. Everything is just as familiar and clear to me as it was the last time I stood within its turpentine embrace.
Back then things were different. I wasn’t on the run, the cities hadn’t locked down, and Yelena slept in my arms every night. Life was good. Wine, cigarettes and a warm body pressed against mine were daily pleasures, beautiful delicacies I found I still craved even now. Back then terms like “Carrier”, “Transmissive” and “Infected” meant nothing to me.
It takes me a moment to collect myself enough to take a short, slow stroll around the room. I trail my fingers over surfaces. Dust gathers under my fingertips, light and gritty and fuzzy brown. Touching these things I had missed for so long makes them seem hyper real, as if I am dreaming. Echoes of Yelena’s laughter, of Veronika’s comments in rapid-fire Russian, of our gentle sounds of love and passion fade in and out just beyond my hearing. It is all exactly as I remember it, no less beautiful without their warmth to give it spirit. I want to wrap myself in the silks and fall asleep on the velvet couch. This grubby notepad and my mission can be forgotten, abandoned in favour of temporary sanctuary.
There is no time, I cannot linger here. I must write what I came here to write and be gone. I wish for Yelena’s comfort but she is in quarantine, mind-sick, and I am alone.
I settle on the couch. I light my last cigarette. I try to remember my life before I became Patient Zero.
I stare at the page.
After a moment, I begin to write.