Tegan iversen

Tegan Iversen is a twenty-something-year-old Footscray-based artist and illustrator. She creates colourful, fun, and honest visual art inspired by this strange world we live in through drawing, painting, and digital techniques. Tegan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Visual Art (Drawing) from the Victorian College of the Arts.

CONTENT NOTE

Darryl Peers’s ‘Showers’ makes reference to pornography and features imagery that references gun violence and wounding.

Starting from a bright orange background, this digital illustration has a layer of light grey patterned hopscotch-style squares, then sections of patterned bright blue water drops. Some of these water drops are falling into a bright blue pool. On top of this are scattered orange segments - one whole orange segment on the left, and one whole and three half segments on the right. A set of half open blue eyes sit in the top right hand corner, looking off to the right. A sports water bottle sits on the top layer of the image, with a bright orange top and bright blue liquid.
ILLUSTRATION BY TEGAN IVERSEN

On the track, I look down at my new running shoes. Silver meshes and puffed tongues.

            I could never have worn them to PE.

            After the warm-up, I look around at the other referees. Between well-paced breaths, they discuss their games on the weekend.

            ‘Aye, an ih refs room at Laurencekirk’s a fuckin cupboard. Nae room ti turn roon even.’

            Legs streaked with hair, deep shoulders, balding temples. Measuring heart rates on their watches.

            They are adults.

            There’s one who looks about the same age as me. He has a buzzcut, his fringe a straight edge. He smiles, but I don’t want to look like I am looking, so I tilt my water bottle up to hide my eyes.

            After the last running drill, my limbs ache like a growth spurt. I’m behind the group as they pour into the changing room, single file, debating their likely sprint times in the upcoming fitness test. Hands hover on shoulders. Hips and groins brush. Bodies pause and start. Everyone finds their locker and unloads it. I squeeze behind and loop round to mine. I take my boot bag to the bench.

            Filling with bodies, the room shrinks. I unlace my shoes. My feet relax; I stuff them into my trainers. My football socks are thick. I can’t get the trainer to untuck itself from under my heel.

            Others shuffle to make room for more on the benches. The spaces either side of me close. The man on my right flicks his ankle socks off with a finger. Two discarded condoms, inches from my unshod foot. He idly thumbs white threads from between his toes.

            I look away.

            A man who spoke to me earlier pulls his shorts past his knees. His dick nods as he raises one foot then another, scrotum taut behind it.

            I never saw so much in PE. Even the most confident never let boxers or socks slip. The rest was a secret their girlfriends would spread in rumour.

            My boxers cling to my groin, hot and saturated. Lifting and pushing my heel down at the same time, the back of my trainer pings up behind my foot.

            I finger my laces into knots and rise to leave, eyes down.

            Over the adrenaline-fuelled banter, I hear palms slap metal taps and the sudden rush of water. It splashes against tiles, then softens into beats on a body.

            On the stairs up to the exit, I look behind and ahead. I slip a hand under. Soft. I take my hand out, sweat from my pubes on my palm. I rub it off on my shorts.

            At the gates by the exit, the one who smiled at me after the warm-up is in front. He pushes the button and it hinges open. His eyes light in recognition. His kitbag, association logo embroidered into it, sways beside him. He holds the strap in his left hand, extends his right. I hesitate, then offer mine and we shake.

            ‘I’m Greg,’ he says. His eyes are a faint shade. I cannot tell which.

            I tell him my name.

            A smirk hovers on his lips. ‘You look done in!’

            ‘What a thing to say t—’

            He laughs and holds his hands up. ‘Nah, I’m joking. You look fine.’ He glances away. ‘Will you be along again on Thursday?’

            I had been told you only needed to go to one session a week for the association to mark your attendance.

            ‘Yes,’ I say.

            ‘I’m just grabbing a drink,’ he says, pointing to the café. ‘Do y—’

            ‘I’ve—’ I raise my water bottle, clear and half full.

            ‘Ah.’

            I look up at his eyes. They’re hooded, looking down at my bottle.

            ‘Well, see you Thursday,’ he says, raising a hand. The smile returns.

            ‘See you Thursday.’ I smile back.

            He walks to the chilled cabinet. He selects a bottle of bright orange energy juice and queues up to pay. He is counting pound coins from his pocket when the cashier tells him the amount. His hand shoots out towards her. Coins spill onto the counter. She gathers them, gives him some of them back, keeps one, and breaks another in the till. I walk out, my body taut with tested muscles.

            In the car park, the driver’s seat of my car looks back at me like a lap proffered after PE. A lap I should not want to take. The sweat on my shirt and back are pressed together as I fasten the seatbelt. I squirm as the wetnesses mingle. The belt locks, my recoil curtailed.

            I stick and unstick as I drive. Sweat shifts in humid drifts when I lean to check a mirror. Final sunshine bleeds under the visor.


‘The coffin,’ the coach says, pointing to the four cones he’s set out in a square, about 30 yards between them. He explains we are to jog each side of the square the first time; then sprint one, jog three; sprint two, jog two; sprint three, jog one; then sprint the whole thing. Repeat, three times.

            The coffin is a box whose perimeter we run.

            Drizzle starts during my second lap. The drops are so slight I can’t feel them on my face. I see them in the warming floodlights, bristles falling from a shaver.

            By lap three, my sprint is hardly more than my jog. Every time I come to the cones furthest from where the coach is watching, I’m tempted to cut the corner. But, like a child avoiding pavement cracks, I worry about stepping inside the coffin.

            The coach barks to dig deeper. My head lolls on my neck as I strain for more speed. I screw my eyes shut for the last sprint.

            Finished, I walk away from the coffin, back to my water bottle. My heart is urgent at the front of my chest.

            I see Greg walking it off alone, palms on his head and elbows wide. I step in beside him and he stops. I take in as much air as I can with the shallow breaths I can manage. I want to say something but I can’t. My breath is still too fast to make way for words.

            He takes his hands from his head and puts one on my shoulder. He bends at the hip and blows out hard. He stands up and draws back his head. His eyes stare into the side of mine, like fixing on a spot to target. Grey, I think, or maybe the faintest of blues.

            He stares and I feel a knot behind my ribs. He squeezes my shoulder, eyes shifting to mine. His fingers feel for the bone and, when he finds it, he digs underneath. The knot tightens. I’m aware of others milling around.

            ‘Your head rolls when you run,’ he mutters.

            ‘That’s cause,’ my breaths slowing, ‘I’m trying.’

            His hand slips across my chest as he turns away.

            In the changing room, I open my locker and my pound coin drops into the tray. I take it. Its coolness is fleeting, stolen by my sweating palm.

            I look at the gaping space above my boot bag. Metallic clangs ring out as doors clatter into their frames. I look up. Next to Greg, a man is pulling at an upturned shirt that will not stretch over his chin. He has already removed his shorts: a body without a head.

            He flails with effort for a few seconds, attracting the attention of his neighbours. With a tug he pulls it off, his red face appearing amidst his own breathless laughter. The others cheer ironically. Greg joins in as the heckles drain to snickers. His is too late; it strikes me as forced.

            The thrum of conversation has renewed when Greg slips his shorts down. His dick is an oval enveloped in foreskin. It swings as he searches his bag for something, his gaze rooted to the task.

            At the gate, I press the button and walk through. Someone stocks the chilled cabinet with rows and rows of his juice. Too much to sell before they close, she prepares for future days. She lines them up like bullet cartridges. Awaiting a hand and a weapon. Maybe he stayed back to get a shower. I don’t want to loiter. I want home for mine.

            I walk out to the car park. The rain has intensified with nightfall; it is too heavy to stand under. I move to bear it. It’s the heaviness I wanted during the coffin. It slaps against my bare legs like boys craning over me after PE.

            The first leaves of autumn, beautiful most years, are soaked to brown mush. I try to avoid stepping in them.

            Getting into the car, I let the rain in with me. Drops collect into wobbling pools on the seatbelt as I pull it over my shoulder. Clicked into place, it presses my chest faintly, easing water from my shirt. Promising to wring me dry.


With my first couple of match fees, I order a kitbag. It needs a bigger locker.

            Though the nights are getting colder, I sweat as much as I did in the sun. It travels down my skin in cooling gravities.

            When the session finishes, I hoist my kitbag out of the locker and take it over to the bench, hanging my clothes on the peg above. I find my towel and the two-in-one shower gel and shampoo I bought.

            I undress.

            Four shower heads line the back wall of the shower block, two either side of the entrance. At each end, one more head is affixed inside a cubicle. I don’t want it to be noticeable that it’s my first time. I want them to think I learned this in PE.

            There is something practised about everyone’s movements. They preserve each other’s space, even as gazes are carefully placed elsewhere. They do not look, but they see. They see to make space.

            These are men. But they are men who handle the tempers of other men. Men whose bodies exhibit the calm they want to see in others.

            Every body is sexless. It is the thing you brought here to train, and now it must be cleaned.

            I take the last one free, beside a cubicle. I push the metal tap, a red spot at its centre, and the water rushes over me.

            The man beside me is hairless, or fair-haired. I can’t be sure without looking closely. His body is the sort I look for on porn sites, though not as muscled. His nipples and stomach droop from his frame: unshaped mounds. He faces away from me and bends for his shower gel, his ass widening until its space appears. Short hairs snake out, sodden against his skin.

            I’ve never seen one in real life; they scare me when they gape in the videos. I imagine the trauma of making them larger.

            His is a shadowed moon, tightly formed, waxing as he stretches. Growing and constrained. He straightens up and the wedding band on his finger glints in the light.

            The water subsides and I squirt a pool of shower gel into my palm. I slap it into my chest. I divide my body into sections, spreading it over me in orderly sequence. I press the tap and lower my head under the jets. I close my eyes. Water rushes into my ears and the world shrinks. When I emerge, the soundtrack of water on the tiles is thinning. Others step away to dry, rubbing their towels over their bodies vigorously.

            Alone in the showers, I remember being the last one ready for PE. Thinking hold on, wait. I reach for my towel and a cubicle door opens. Greg appears, grabbing and unfurling his towel. It covers his body before I can look. Spurned, I look up and our eyes meet.

            Blue. No, grey.

            Standing next to the pegs, I cannot be seen from where they dress at the benches. At his cubicle door, Greg is hidden too. For a few seconds we look across the space between us, emptied of the men showering there seconds before.

            My dick twitches.

            I lift my towel up to dry my hair, like this could justify my turned head.

            I’m careful not to bunch it so it will hang over my shoulders. It is an incomplete disguise. My body without a head. It is too much, offered too soon. My towel over my eyes, I don’t know whether my dick thickens. I don’t know what I’m giving away.

            When I pull my towel down, Greg has left. I bend to dry my legs. Relief. My dick could pass for flaccid.

            At my kitbag, the room is quiet.

            I dress.

            I look up and see Greg walk out, kitbag swinging. His hair is hardly dry. He clutches his juice, tilting the bright orange fluid into his mouth, sucking the plastic bottle until it flattens into litter. His teeth release the bottle-cap and it re-inflates. I want to catch up to him, but I am not ready. My things are strewn. My water bottle is open, its lid beside it. Still to be screwed shut.

            The door fits in its frame silently behind him. It is not like the locker doors. It does not bounce back.

            I scrunch everything into my bag. My belt is under the damp towel. I close my fingers on the buckle and hoist it out like a snake found poised in the grass, head clamped in my grip. Its tail flicks as though shuddering after death. Before the blood learns its body is a corpse.

            I used to wear my dad’s hand-me-downs; this is the first I’ve bought for myself. The first tight enough to hold my trousers at the height I want.

            I walk to the door. A man is telling the story of a fight in his game on the weekend.

            ‘I jus ran richt intae it blain ma whistle fuckin loud,’ he says. ‘Killed it afore it stairted, ken. Took air hauns aff each ither to cover their lugs.’

            I check the café as I leave. The chilled cabinet hums, alone, its bullets ready.

            At the car, my legs ache quietly, ready to admit they are tired.

            I bend into the driver’s seat and scootch until my back rubs against it. The dryness of the touch is a momentary relief. I turn the key in the ignition and the headlights launch into the night.

            A car trundles past my windscreen and Greg is lit up behind the steering wheel. He uncurls a finger to acknowledge me. Relinquishing a trigger. A smile on his lips. I raise a hand and shift into gear to follow.

            The car beeps in alarm. A warning the shape of a person blinks red on the dashboard. Two unlit lines, one straight and one curved, mark exit wounds in a bloodied body. I pull the seatbelt over me to cover them.

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