Lost In Track Changes is an ongoing literary remix experiment featuring Cate Kennedy, Fiona Capp, Krissy Kneen, Ryan O'Neill and Robert Hoge. Starting from a short work of memoir, the authors remix each other's work in series, with changes tracked between. In the final remix for Fiona Capp's The Accident, Cate Kennedy dispenses with Krissy's list and launches from Auden into verse. Use the tabs below to jump between Cate's and Krissy's remixes. Fiona's original work is here. Also, if you want to join in on the remixing, check out our companion project; Open Changes, now happening.
[tabs style="boxed"][tab title="The Accident 5.0"][dropcap]T[/dropcap]wenty things I am prepared to talk about:
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone is waiting bored at an intersection or just driving dully along;
How, when some are reverently, passionately waiting
For miraculous comprehension, there must always be
Some other lowlife who seemed to feel nothing, who went
Galvanized, greedy, back for a second look:
While a young boy on a bike, left
As just a figure marked with an x in a diagram now, was the one
To let the dreadful martyrdom run its course.
Anyhow we turn the car around, cast about bereft
For connections back home, find distractions in celebrity names,
Ring our mother, accept we are bystanders; take a couple of Valiums.
In Walsh’s Distant Drums, for instance, how a character, at his death
Screams as he falls, creating a classic movie meme –
The sound effect of that last anguished breath
An in-joke now for Spielberg, Lucas, Tarantino; no matter how extreme
The CGI, nothing about this is manufactured. You may
Have heard the raw forsaken cry, and looked away
From the driver’s own anguish, the fleeting flash of green
Backpack, two teenage boys weeping at what they had seen:
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
The intersection one giant X, traffic eventually rolling calmly on.
Nothing helps us sleep now. Masterful Auden
Waits for us – patient, sorrowful – on the bedside table.
[/tab][tab title="4.5"][/tab][tab title="4.0"][dropcap]T[/dropcap]wenty things I am prepared to talk about other than what you want me to talk about:
I was driving to uni with T.S. Eliot, Ted Hughes and W.H. Auden piled onto the passenger seat. There was a tutorial on Auden’s Musée des Beux Arts at ten o’clock, and I wanted to get there early, because I hadn’t read it.
At the end of the street was a main road with no traffic lights. Getting onto the busy thoroughfare, with cars and trucks hurtling down the hill and over the bridge across the freeway, was always difficult.
It’s important you know exactly what it looked like when it happened, so I’ve drawn a diagram for you:
What does X stand for? X marks the spot.
The truck was a bright dirty orange. The cyclist was wearing a green backpack and a yellow helmet. He was young; perhaps eighteen or nineteen. He looked a little like my brother.
My brother lives in New York. He doesn’t ride a bike, but takes the subway everywhere, or walks. Because of this, he often sees celebrities and actors on the streets of Manhattan, and asks to have his photo taken with them. I have pictures of my brother beside Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Emilio Estevez, Mickey Rourke. But I don’t have a picture of my brother beside me.
The truck passed me, blocking my view.
On the footpath on my side of the road were two teenage boys. They were crying.
- At first the driver of the semi didn’t appear to realise what had happened. A hundred metres up the road he finally stopped. He got out the cab and looked down the road.
Last semester in Film Studies we had looked at the Wilhelm scream. It’s a sound effect of a man yelling as he falls from a cliff, recorded for the 1951 film, Distant Drums. The scream named after Private Wilhelm, the unfortunate character who died from falling. It’s since been used in over two hundred movies, when characters are shot, stabbed, blown up.
The truck driver sounded a million times worse than that.
I couldn’t go to my tutorial. I turned the car around and drove home. On the way I saw the man from the flat above us driving towards the intersection. I waved at him, shouted for him to turn back. He called out, ‘Hi!’ and walked on, towards the scene of the X.
When I got back to the flat, I didn’t know what to do. I poured a glass of red wine then pushed it away. I stared out the window and watched for the flashing lights. I wanted to tell someone what I’d seen but you weren’t home. So I rang my mother.
My mother is a psychologist. I could feel her nodding at the phone as I spoke, the same way that you are nodding now. All she could do was say how awful it was. She suggested that I get professional help to deal with what I had seen. I was indignant. Why did I need help? I was the lucky bystander. I was still alive. I told her to truck off.
Yes, I said, truck off. And when I hung up I could imagine her standing there, thinking, oh my poor darling, that’s not even a Freudian slip. It’s a Freudian slide.
I saw Barry, the drug dealer from upstairs coming up the front path.
His face was puffy and he was swearing to himself, which was nothing unusual, except I knew what he had seen. I had no desire to talk to him. He went upstairs and I heard muffled, urgent conversation. A few minutes later, he was heading out again with his girlfriend.
I was still on the footpath out the front of the flats when, some minutes later, their car reappeared having done the block and was about to turn back into the street. I waited for them. But instead of turning right, he headed back to the intersection for a second look.
When I heard the knock I knew who it was. It wasn’t enough he had had three viewings and had shown his girlfriend. Now he wanted to ‘share’ it with me, too. I could imagine him standing in the hallway, shuffling on the spot, his shoulders hunched. I opened the door.
Barry looked at me warily. He really wanted to talk to you, but you weren’t here. Yet he had something important to report and like the Ancient Mariner, he was compelled to speak.
‘You should’ve seen what happened up the road.’ He waved his arm in the direction of the intersection.
‘I was there,’ I said. ‘When he… When it happened. I saw you take Annie for a look. Why would you take someone else there? To show them?’
‘Hey, hey,’ he said. ‘She rides a bike, right? I wanted her to see what can happen.’
Later on, there was a tentative knock at the door. Barry again. He apologised for upsetting me and handed me two Valium tablets in foil. He said they would help me sleep. I told myself he meant well. I muttered ‘thanks’ and quickly closed the door.
When you came home, you saw my face and asked me what had happened. And I said I am not prepared to talk about that. And you said, what are you prepared to talk about? And so I told you.
And now you are lying beside me in bed, and I still haven’t talked about what you want me to talk about. You are stroking my hair, but I feel nothing. I’ve taken Barry’s pills, but I still can’t sleep. Auden is on the bedside table, and I pick up the book and turn to the poem I was supposed to read for the tutorial.
Musée des Beux Arts
[quote]About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters: how well they understood Its human position: how it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along[/quote]
And as I read on to the end, I feel tears filling my eyes, and I start to sob and you are holding me, and I say, ‘This. I’m prepared to talk about this.’