What shall we study today? He says, ‘The past’; she says, ‘Paintwork.’ He takes up his green carpet, picks at the thread, sits in the corner of the empty room and unravels. She pops iron filings into the vendor’s ears. The agent asks, ‘How low are you willing and able to go?’ This questions stuns the beetles in the woodwork. On their evolutionary clamber, these tiny translucent gods eat up anything overheard, and chomp down on it to make new mandibles and legs. ‘How low are you willing and able to go?’ This question in a rainbow beetle’s muscular system is frothy acid in a lamb’s face. They are torn apart, become percussive skeletal ramrods within walls and cornice boards. He says,’ I will go as low as yesterday.’ She swills beetle rot around her mouth – hmm – a hint of money. The agent turns into a new patio; summer arrives, those saddened unscrupulous evenings. ‘The past,’ he says.

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