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Article

The Coffee Pot

The old percolator makes about a mug and a half.

Content warning: This piece alludes to sexual assault.

 

Students at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) walked out on Monday (28 Feb) morning, protesting the readmission of a man reported for multiple instances of sexual assault. Since 2019, the University of Melbourne has failed to act on multiple reports of harassment and assault, and the man reported has been allowed on campus alongside those he has harmed.

Survivors are now speaking up, with social media posts about the protest shared more than 100 times across Instagram and Twitter. Survivors are demanding that their abuser is removed from campus and that the University of Melbourne commit to stronger policies and actions when it comes to sexual assault.

 

The old percolator makes about a mug and a half—

two cups if someone asks me to share

and three I flood them with milk.

 

You deserve some context. When I was 20 years old, I packed up my percolator and stayed in a country town for three weeks. To my surprise, it was in those three weeks that I came to terms with, and eventually reported, my sexual assault.

 

It fit in my suitcase between my socks and the books I thought I’d read

I wrapped it in an old Cotton On tote bag.

I vowed not to drink the instant shit.

 

I’d promised a whole lot of things to myself before that trip.

 

I was going to get outside a lot

And cook good food

And I wouldn’t drink too much white wine

And I wouldn’t cry on the phone to my mum, begging to go home.

 

But I lied.

 

I bought all my coffees from cafes

 

in takeaway cups that I left in landfill

 

or sometimes just left on a table near me

for someone else to handle

 

 

 

I don’t know

 

 

 

I don’t remember it that well.

 

 

But I know I definitely wasn’t a good person.

 

 

 

 

I had $13 toasties every lunchtime for two weeks.

 

The two times I made coffee, I burnt it.

And I didn’t share.

 

I didn’t wash the percolator before bringing it home.

 

When I unpacked, I put it,

neatly wrapped in its tote bag,

in the corner of my room,

and I said

I would

clean it out

in a couple of days

when I was feeling better.

 

A few days later,

I needed that part of the room for some stupid online zoom class.

 

I moved the percolator to a quiet corner under my bed.

 

Three weeks later

Ants were living in my carpet, and I’d forgotten why.

 

I vacuumed three times in the two weeks following

 

and I bought poison to get rid of them

 

and the ants just wouldn’t go away.

 

.

.

.

 

It was another two months before I’d remember the coffee pot

 

…wrapped up in the Cotton On tote bag under my bed…

 

 

 

 

 

Mouldy.

 

 

It was like a 12yr old boy had left the remnants of his lunchbox in the school backpack over summer

Or a precocious kid had kept an unreturned library book from three house-moves ago.

It was like I’d spilled a condiment in the back of the fridge and made the shelving all sticky,

And forgotten the blackened banana I was saving for banana bread that I’d never have time to bake.

 

It was gross.

And no one else knew I had been hiding it.

 

So

 

 

 

 

I went downstairs at 2am one night to clean it,

 

 

I cursed under my breath when something clanged and got too loud.

 

I said the clean pot was a sign I was returning to myself again.

 

It wasn’t.

 

I didn’t sleep through the night for another 6 months.

 

 
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