Carnival Flesh, by Elisabeth Murray

Elisabeth Murray is a writer from Sydney who is interested in all things feminist, queer, and mental health-related. Her work has been published in Verity La, Fields Magazine, Tincture Journal (Issue Seven), Contrapasso, Voiceworks, dotdotdash magazine, and several University of Sydney anthologies. Her novella, The Loud Earth, was published by Hologram in 2014.

This story first appeared in Issue 15 of Tincture Journal. If you like this story, please consider buying a copy.

We are a crush of bodies, but the calmest kind of crowd. Smoke and sweat is everywhere. I am far from everyone I’ve known in my life but this crowd knows me more intimately than the earth does when you’re dead, without any skin to put up a barrier.

I am standing in front of the speaker but I am standing everywhere, I am the light that smashes through blue to yellow, I am the night coming through the back of the tent, through the gaps between people, so there’s no space anymore. My body takes the force of the music like the ocean when you use none of your muscles against it. There is the cold metal railing against my arms and my skin is good now, no longer a barrier, and my eyes are shut and the strength of the earth is inside me, all the time it has lived in my bones.

I open my eyes to a girl so close she seems part of my own strength. Her hair is like ochre and she is wearing a skirt the colour of the centre of the continent viewed from so high it is more like the idea of red.

She is yelling something, her mouth hardly real. But it’s all real, just a kind of real I’ve never known before. We are jumping with the rest of the crowd, and on stage everyone wears a smile like the girl, they are jumping with us, cajón, guitar, bass, flute, djembe stronger than an ocean.

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