Ostrich A Novel Online - Matt Greene Page 0,1

go on holiday. (We don’t go on holiday anymore. (Mum says being on holiday is a state of mind.))

“Ah, come on, Lou, he’s not so bad!”

Sometimes my parents will talk about me like I’m not here. (This is called the third person. (I think that’s why they haven’t had any more children, because they’re used to me being the third person.)) Dad has been doing it more and more lately.

Is everything all right?

It’s the waitress. On closer inspection, she is almost pretty. If you were to describe a pretty girl to one of those police composite artists that they have on American TV shows she is what you might get. All of her features are correct, but somehow they don’t link up properly, like they don’t belong together. Her hair is fuzzy, as though it’s been drawn with a 2B pencil. She is frustrating to look at (like a wonky picture), so I don’t.

(I am starting to notice these things, which makes me think that perhaps I am my father’s son after all.)

My parents beam at her as though she’s the sun and they are solar-powered. I notice that Dad doesn’t look directly at her, either.

“Are you needing for anything?”

“Just the recipe!” says my mum, who doesn’t cook.

“And how’s that number 28?” She flashes me her teeth. They aren’t quite white. The French word for white is blanc, which is a better one for her teeth. They are blank and she is unfinished.

“Perfect,” I remark.

No one knows that I am being clever (and funny). Question: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? (Answer: Yes. (Obviously.))

I excuse myself.

The picture on the door of the Men’s has got no neck. His head just floats there above his shoulders, totally unconnected to the rest of his body. I decide to use the disabled loo instead, because the only thing strange about this man is that he’s sitting down, which I find more relatable than having been decapitated.

I open the door by taking my middle finger and pressing as hard as I can down on the part of the handle closest to the doorknob until the blood pools under my fingernail and my palm starts to ache. Another thing we learned in Science is that a door handle is a First Class Lever and that levers are actually machines (even though we have them in our bodies) because a machine is just something that changes the size or direction of an applied force. (Levers are a way of lifting a heavy load over a small distance by applying a small force over a bigger distance. They work by using a fulcrum, which I like to think of as being a bit like an equals sign. (Imagine you’re reading a book out loud and you come across the number 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 and you don’t know how to pronounce it. This is when you might want to use a fulcrum. So instead of struggling with such a heavy load you could just call it a billion billion, which takes a bit longer to say but is easier than knowing the word quadrillion. This is exactly the same principle behind levers.)) By pressing down here, though, I’m basically doing a manual override. This is how I know that no one else has touched this part of the handle before, which makes it much more hygienic.

I use my elbow to lock the door behind me and turn on the tap, and then I stare at my reflection until it becomes unfamiliar. Usually I can make this happen with less than a minute of actual, concentrated looking (I need to repeat my name only twenty-two times before it sounds like someone else’s), but today it isn’t working. I try taking off my hat.

David Driscoll says I look like I lost a bet, which he should know about because his dad has a gambling problem and he’s had to wear the same trousers since Year 6 even though he’s had a growth spurt and he claims he has to shave now. He calls my hat my gay-lid, by which he means it locks the gayness in rather than being gay itself. (It’s a white baseball cap, and white is gay only if you refract it through a prism.) I think he thinks homosexuality is like body heat and that you lose 80% of it through your head. (I saw an 18 once where the homophobic bully turns