Suneeta Peres da Costa

Suneeta Peres da Costa is an award-winning writer whose work includes the bestselling novel Homework (Bloomsbury), stories, essays, and poems in local and international journals and anthologies, as well as numerous productions for ABC Radio. The pieces that appear here are taken from a collection of short, experimental fiction. She currently lives in Sydney.




The Changed Woman

Had she changed, she wondered? For though there were some visible signs of her transformation what was difficult was that the more significant changes had happened inside her and therefore could not really be seen at all. Often she tried to remember and make the gestures of her old self, and while this might have reassured the others, she herself knew this old self was merely a sheath, an elaborate and outmoded disguise. When she discarded it, however, it seemed these people, much beloved by her, could not recognise her and spoke disapprovingly of her new ways. Despite her efforts to win them over, they were unwilling, or else incapable, of understanding her. They went about their lives, faithful to their old habits, while she grew restive and weary of it all, dreaming of circuses and caravans and distant lands. Eventually she devised an escape plan. The heartbreaking thing was she could not say goodbye for if she so much as looked into the eyes of these familiar people, now virtual strangers, she was sure her resolve to leave would itself break forever. So on the appointed day, she rose at dawn, placed a few possessions—heirlooms and relics as she already considered them—in a bag and made her way to the end of the valley and up through the mountain pass. The sky changed, the vegetation changed, but somehow, despite the heavy cloak she wore for protection from the elements, she felt a sure-footed lightheartedness.


The Mirror Man  

Was shy, retiring, but his problem was he shone and gave a bad impression despite his every effort to go unremarked. He would try to be still, so as not to upset the careful geometry of others’ existences, but if he was knocked by the smallest force—a gust of wind, say, or a loud noise—he shimmered and glowed and peopled shouted and raised their fists at him. He would have liked to disappear, and yet he was everywhere, or so it seemed, reverberating and reflecting. At other times he would have liked to speak, to recite a poem, whistle, or even sing, but he was alas imprisoned by an intractable muteness. On certain moonlit evenings, if he became tangentially aware of what it might be to know another, to identify, it nevertheless remained a kind of abstract knowledge, unable to be put to good use. The birds would descend from the trees, catching the coquettish reflections of their bright wings in his silvery glass and then fly up to the sky away from him. No one actually touched him, though beautiful women spoke through him, as though to an ancient oracle, of such things as their longings and dreams. Occasionally, overhearing the cries of neighbourhood children, he was so lonely, so envious of their games and easy camaraderie, the Mirror Man would hope that their ball might crash though and even shatter him—as often happened to a local window.