The contract is between you and me. You are the audience. I am the performer. If we follow it together, I promise you an orange, or something similar.


Arrange / To complete a peal, each bell must be rung in succession, in every combination.

Challenge / The music is all in your head. Keep reading at your own pace. An audience is usually expected to remain silent, apart from applause. The hollow of your mouth is a bell. Your tongue is a clapper. Sometimes there can be peals of laughter.

College / The collective noun is school, or shoal. Look up from the contract. Even if you are shy, show me your smile.

Courage / We say ticker, but I think clapper would be better slang for this upturned muscle.

Cringe / A stethoscope bell is placed on the chest. When I reach this part, I will brace myself with headphones, listen for a pulse. Nothing rhymes with orange. You should keep reading at your own pace.

Derange / Throughout the pandemic, my sister makes playlists. We meet in a video call and check our settings: the same long fade between tracks. My Bluetooth speaker cannot handle phone and laptop, so we mime a countdown to the music. Then, miles apart, we dance.

Exchange / The moment two parties (or more) comprehend the terms of a contract and reach a mutual agreement is called the meeting of the minds.

Estrange / Above our heads, but nearly in reach, a mirrored disco ball slowly rotates. It casts a mosaic of light outwards across the club. I dance with my fingers splayed to let it spread like webbing between digits, all the better for swimming.

Forage / Someone tall dances beside me. Through sticky beer and bodily fug, I notice a zest bright scent arise in the basement club. Their elbow catches my attention as they tuck peel into the zip cheek of their bum bag, split the fruit with their thumb, and offer me a tart quarter. This moment is very tender.

Foreign / My boss comes into my office and says: The plural of fish is fish, unless it includes different types of fish, in which case it is fishes.

Grunge / The First Aid trainer provides a playlist of songs for performing CPR. In addition to the Bee Gees, they include Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.

Homage / Salmon pink is a shade of orange, coral, or terracotta.

Knowledge / Some contracts are implicit. They take place in silence.

Long-range / During the dancing, I look up at my screen. We are moving absurdly to Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton. I am cursing my sister for her playlist as I can barely identify a rhythm, and there is slight delay in the image. Minnie sings about blooms and bells, cymbals crash, and my sister throws her body into an arc like a salmon jumping upstream. I am rooted to the spot, watching her in slow motion.

Lozenge / A lozenge is a form of rhombus. It is sometimes used in heraldry to denote an unmarried woman.

Marriage / I am at a wedding with two grooms. Guests have been asked to wear a white dress if they have one. Some of the seams are held together with safety pins over torsos which have shifted in decades since the original fit. We gather in the cloakroom before the first dance, grey-haired women with long plaits, or younger with shaved heads. One verse into the waltz, the music cuts abruptly to Bjork. We spill out as a fog and encircle the grooms in white satin and tulle. It’s oh so quiet. It’s oh so still. You’re all alone, and so peaceful until…

Plunge / The route of the migrating salmon is interrupted by a man-made dam, so man makes a cannon to shoot the salmon across to the adjacent body of water. The viral video of flying salmon has me equal parts elated and repelled.

Portage / People have always carried vessels from one waterway to another.

Scavenge / In many languages, orange lost a letter. It stripped away from the fruit and curled up to its indefinite article neighbour. Norenge contracts and becomes orange.

Shortage / The noun clapper can be traced to clappan, Old English for throb or beat.

Short-change / I am never sure if we are dancing together. Something was lost when we stopped licking the gum on envelopes.

Soaring / It is a variation in air pressure that pushes salmon through the pneumatic tube. Historically, the same system has been used in the postal system, and to transport fruit.

Sonorant / While you are reading, I am dancing to Staying Alive. Dancing is always a question of survival.

Sponge / The heart contracts about seventy times a minute.

Sporran / In the sauna, two men sit and enjoy a tangerine. The smell of citrus cuts through a film of sweat, wood and chlorine. Cleaving pith from skin, they chew over segments of the daily paper and make small talk about inclement weather, their preference for sauna over steam.

Storage / She wanted to dazzle the congregation with her coffin so had it spangled all over with mirrored tiles. As the pallbearers carried her body in, she was the source of dancing laughter, of disco anthems, glamour and light.

Strange / It must be very lonely to be a salmon in a chute.

Syringe / I am shown how to administer a dose of adrenaline from an EpiPen into an orange. All the other fruit in the bowl begins to dimple, while the one marked lethal stays glossy and plump for months.

Tinge / Atlantic salmon are scaled in silver, with dark spots and a pink flush.

Torrent / After heavy rain is the best time to see leaping salmon in the wild. They travel upstream by early morning or evening, soaring over froth in winter.

Unhinge / I hold my palm flat. A pink cellophane fish twists and contorts: jealous, indifferent, in love, fickle, false, tired, passionate.


The contract lasts for the duration of the performance, and the performance lasts for as long as it takes everyone to read the contract. When you reach this part, you are going to hold a finger up to the wind. We are nearly at the end. Wet your index finger with your tongue. Raise it above your head and keep it pointed there.

The website suggests slant rhymes: Arrange, Challenge, College, Courage, Cringe, Derange, Exchange, Estrange, Forage, Foreign, Grunge, Homage, Knowledge, Long-range, Lozenge, Marriage, Plunge, Portage, Scavenge, Shortage, Short-change, Soaring, Sonorant, Sponge, Sporran, Storage, Strange, Syringe, Tinge, Torrent, Unhinge

If we each choose one of these and think them simultaneously, perhaps we can conjure orange.