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1.3

Have you ever read a close friend's and thought, 'this is not the work of the person I know'?

Startled by your conclusion, you launch an investigation. Well, you must. Only fools suspect foul play then just hold their breath at every passing. Fools and perhaps friends sunk for too long into an order of power that can no longer be changed, only escaped.

These words, the ones by your friend, have no place in their oeuvre. And you of all sentient beings should know. Backed up by a history compiled so bureaucratically in your head each article can be sworn by.

You know them well. So well you can pull them awake and into your life especially when they are miles away. They tremble on the top of your washing machine even though everything they have of yours has been returned.

You travel heavy to social circles, with her tucked inside a mobile booth – a mini stage you unpack and play puppeteer, dancing her (blemished) around at liberty and in front of any audience.

And your audience listen, ears spurting flames. However, between your heightened retelling, the audience steals a stare at your calculated face and wonder; maybe that's where the most promising story lay hidden.

So then you take the illegitimate piece of work to meet this friend you know too well. And there they are for fuck sake. Sitting there, the perfect folds of an animated body. Two glasses of Rose on the table, biblical in their invitation to drink from it. The piece of work is tucked away in your wrong or right choice of bag and it swells blatantly. A swelling they have peeked at with light humour when rolling a cigarette. A light humour you choose to cut out from the theatrical story you will soon tell of this moment. A humour she has always held above you, like a floating fan in the summer that that knows all too well why you are beneath it.

As puppeteer, you must exhibit mastery, but at this moment when the strings aren't attached, you want it (the strings) wrapped around their neck in the fairest, most civilised way possible. But you'd have to do it yourself. You'd have to do it yourself.

The charlatan rests her palm in yours and sucks out all the fight and the eagerness. You leave your hands yet take offence, passively lean into them and say,

it's not you is it.' and for theatrics, 'it's not you'.

'I know it's not', they give back generously, grinning airily, palm still in yours. Frustratingly keeping you cool amongst the surge of heat you put forward.

By Chima Nsoedo