Inside the stone the world is beige. Flat. Bland. Pale. The sun’s light is tepid, the sea runs a pale wet tongue across the beach leaving behind a faint tea stain. The sand is a crushed malt biscuit.
Inside the stone the world is an apricot. Wind loosens the ripe scent of sex and soft fruit, of wet and round and orange. Men and women peel off their clothes, step out of their shoes. They stride past work on cool, bare feet.
Inside the stone the world is a puzzle, a thousand pieces strewn across a landscape. A man is gathering them up, constructing a scene from the inside out. They remain out of focus until he picks them up, transforming at once from flat and grey, to monumental, three-dimensional structures; his dream of a different life keeps him captive.
Inside the stone puddles are pewter ovals, sleeping.
Inside the stone is a black world, a place with neither windows nor doors. The woman searches for a trapdoor, any means by which she might escape the darkness. But there are only concrete walls and wooden floorboards that threaten to split. She can smell the sticky stench of bitumen, the singe of a hot, high fire.
Inside the stone is a soft wax world. Children know the silent slide of honey. They walk with candles; lights tilted to flatter the forest, they highlight moss and lichen, outline fallen pine needles with a subtle edge of gold.
Inside the stone the world is populated by flocks of primordial birds. They burrow their way out of the dark soil in our gardens and look us straight in the eye. Their skin is damp and pink as a Desiree potato. They carry the dirt of the world on their backs, feed on mass nouns and ripe plums.
Inside the stone the world is a bulletin board. Sharp corners stab and cut. People and events are paper cut-outs, underlined, trimmed, pinned to its surface with cold stainless steel pins. Disturb the layers to see what lies behind or beneath and everything will turn to dust. Take heed. The printers’ pigments will leave telltale stains on your fingers.
Inside the stone is a trapped storm.
Inside the stone a spill of full-cream milk spreads across a linoleum kitchen floor, splashes down the back doorstep and out into the garden. It flows down the slope, past the exuberant yellow peonies and flowering cherries, gathering speed and doubling in volume as it travels. By the time it has crossed the neighbourhood boundaries, it is a wide white river; the children and untethered lambs of the suburbs run along its banks sploshing, stretching and bending, drinking their fill.
Inside the stone a miniature narcissus threatens to pull up its roots. It shakes its head, catapults its scent across the sprawling grey of the city. Perfume drizzles down street lamps, drips onto sidewalks, sticks to the dusty flanks of buildings. Industry blushes and for a moment steps out of the shadows.