assemblage

The beach had been attacked by a lazy pointillist. The tide has receded, leaving the sand dotted with jellyfish remains. It was a cold morning, but their bulbous forms were somehow immune to the dew. Driftwood and seaweed were scattered along the beach. Together, we took handfuls of debris and constructed a cloying mound. Some pieces of wood were long and beaked. Through some weird muscle memory we created a leering face.

It was a Skeksis. We were making a Skeksis.

I don’t know how many months had passed since we’d seen The Dark Crystal. I was not even five years old then. It was the first movie I’d seen at a cinema. The family had driven to Morwell Village Twin in our defiantly orange Kombi. I sat in my father’s lap. The lights dimmed. The screen lit up. And then, an unearthly chanting and four-armed creatures that were literally larger than life.

As the story goes, I took approximately a third of a second to climb up my father and try to wedge myself between him and the chair, my hands fashioned into grasping claws. “But they’re the good guys,” my parents pleaded. I was not convinced.

After a few minutes I settled down. By Christmas, 1983, my favourite book was Brian Froud’s The World of The Dark Crystal. I loved the designs, the back stories, the apocrypha and prophecy and whorling secret geometries. Within the year, by my reckoning, I was building gigantic bird-skeletons on the beach with my wonderful family.

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