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Published Sunday, August 17th, 2014

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Tracy Bang Remembers Everything

Soon Tracy Bang lost the back of her mind. There was no recess, no memory as such – everything she had ever experienced existed in the now, in the present.

Soon Tracy Bang lost the back of her mind. There was no recess, no memory as such – everything she had ever experienced existed in the now, in the present.
It was great at first, changed everything, e.g. she created a shitstorm at her grandmother’s bridge club. But then the bad stuff happened. Her husband had to go, Filipe, because he apologised too much, overused the word ‘disquieting’, etc. Then her friends had to go, Jen and Helmut, for similar reasons. They always lifted their eyebrows in the same way, and spoke about food production processes.
That was it for Tracy Bang. Nothing seemed new anymore. She already knew all the faces, colours seemed obvious, the sun was boring. It wasn’t just things, it was patterns too: plot sequences, types of news story, ways of doing things. Things got really bad when she started to get bored of her own thoughts. Everything became like a drone, like a continuous, monotonous drone.
Desperately, she looked for new things. Things that would surprise her, that would take her away from her tedious self. She tried putting her finger in a blender. She sellotaped her cat to her head and jogged around the park. None of it worked. Nothing was new enough.
She found that every new experience became like experiencing something for the last time. Once it entered her mind – that was it. It would remain as fresh and as vivid as in the first instance, but at the same time no longer fresh or vivid at all. Just another moment among all the other living moments.
New experiences felt like birth and death in one: every something new, once realised, was eternally to remain – always the same, but never the same again. Soon even this bored her: the structure of a novelty and its instantaneous death.
But this wasn’t the hardest thing. The hardest thing was her emotional wellbeing. Tracy Bang’s emotional wellbeing.
She carried every personal response to everything that had ever happened with her, all of the time. And she no longer wanted to do anything. Any positive experience, she knew, was a prelude to disaster. She saw clearly how it would have to end.
She was a wound, always opening, always closing. It was terrible being Tracy Bang, really awful. She was perpetually thinking this: the thought was permanently there, nestled alongside everything else.
Soon, that was it. She’d had enough. She locked herself in a small chest. “I’m locking myself in a small chest,” she said. So she did it. She sat in the chest. She stared into the blackness, occasionally sucking vitamin water through a tube. Chesty chest. That was what she called it.
Everything throbbed away, at the front of her mind. Everything she’d ever thought or noticed pounded as one cacophonous chant. The same old drone, only louder. All things, all thoughts, all feelings, all patterns came to this.
She thought it would never end. It was nauseating.
And yet, slowly, out of this perpetual sameness, out of the abysmal mess, out of the blackness of the chest – something different began to emerge. It was a kind of angle: hard to describe. But it was the first thing not to bore her in a long time.
Of course, everything remained just stupid, empty, meaningless movement and repetition. That was all that was there, she realised, and there was nothing to it. But realising that, lowering her expectations, ceasing to look beyond, no longer expecting anything other than this endless buzzing, she felt a kind of relief, and at once saw the awful beauty of it.
Tracy Bang hit her head against the side of the chest. Then she left the chest. Turned out she’d only been in there for three hours. Also, she’d left the oven on, which was pretty stupid, considering.
She wanted to do something nuts, like smash a war memorial or whack off a car salesman. No, she wanted to do something normal. Something normal and tedious and scintillating, like putting cling film around half an onion.
She phoned Filipe. He was pretty angry. Unsurprising, she thought, and realised she was mildly aroused. Her friends, too, with their predictable rebukes, couldn’t have done better.
Well, that was that, then. She wandered around the house. Then she left the house and walked around the city. She felt the same thoughts, the same feelings, the same everything – a sense of sameness, vital in its way, and singularly different. Unlike people and unlike things, like everything, but unlike anything. Tracy Bang felt fine again, bought some chips, watched a shitty film and soon forgot that any of this had ever happened.

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