Shifting between a strange art student and a demonic, life-size spider, she now resembles a blathering and belligerent Tasmanian Devil. Kinda like the one from the cartoons she once watched as a child around her grandparents’ house after school with a plate full of food on her lap and a glass of lemonade by her feet, with cracking ice cubes as big as icebergs that would crack crack crack against her two front teeth. Among the dust and dirt particles her spinning feet kick up, ghostly images dance with abandon the same as they did in the mist, and as if on cue, the white vapour slips in through an open window and follows Gretchen like a magic cape. Like a lonesome lover, it can’t stand to be apart from her, and every second she spurns its touch is another lifetime it spends yearning for a taste of the life she oozes from every drunken pore. Her space is at the end of the main corridor. Considering she wishes to be anonymous, she’s not doing a good job of it, although no one will dare come near her when she’s like this, that’s for sure. Despite her considerable talent, they’re wary enough of her as it is. And that’s on a good day. On a day like this, getting in her way—at least deliberately—is pure madness. Coming to a sudden halt, she spins around, and all at once, the dancing shapes evaporate with a forlorn Oooohhh that whistles through the air giving everyone the shivers. With her hands on her hips, she studies her surroundings before concluding that everything is in its right place. Nodding her head, she pulls back the curtain to her space and nimbly steps inside before pulling it shut behind her. As she does so, the other students breathe a sigh of relief, although secretly, they can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Peering out from their hidey holes, they watch as, unseen to them, Gretchen throws off her coat and whips off her bra, chucking it onto a pile of paint cans full not of paint but a mixture of piss and old coffee. Collecting herself, she kneels by one of her toolboxes. Unlocking it by punching in the date of her father’s birthday, she removes the bottle of brandy and clutches it close to her chest. She hasn’t even touched the stuff, and yet her insides sing as if scorched by a searing hot poker.