You’re in your room. You’re holding a letter- unopened; its from exactly the person you want it to be from, and from context and cover art you can tell its going to say everything you ever wanted to hear. This envelope is really something to look at too, like the person who wrote it didn’t really know anything about thirds or shading or lines, but they didn’t care, they just spewed beauty and things you want to see onto the paper. There are things on this cover that only you thought you even knew you wanted to see, but the writer, they know you too, you now know.
Obviously you can’t wait to open this letter, unwrap the real treasure-
But so you cannot wait, it is delicious, revealing, healing, sanguine, soaked-in-red-wine, euphoric, delirious, hot, cold, kind-of-like-the-tickle-of-the-sun-on-a-not-too-hot-spring-day-and-it-makes-you-feel-like-at-least-the-world-exists-
waiting to open the letter, I mean. Who knows what greater adjectives that moment will bring?
The letter in your hand turns to water in your hands, slightly too cold for even the feeling to be pleasant, and you gasp. Everything you wanted to hear, its nothing, now, and your hands feel cold and clammy and wet and there’s a little puddle at your feet, its making your feet cold and clammy now too, and the letter is gone forever, and what’s this-
The puddle is becoming a bigger puddle, its growing, you think: What the fuck? And: I hope this doesn’t ruin the floor. And then: whatthefuck whatthefuck whatthefuck whatthefuck. And then you look around, unfortunately, and I say unfortunately because you immediately realise you aren’t in your house or wherever you were, you’re in like a giant fish tank or something, some kind of not-impressively-large-but-large-enough tank, large enough that you sure as hell fit inside and small enough that you won’t be going anywhere, and then what’s really unfortunate is that you can feel the water’s clammy march, and the temperature isn’t awful, it’s just like bone-dustingly unpleasant, so much so that you can’t even find the words to properly hate the feeling, it just makes you feel kind of ill, ill in the back of your head, the back of your stomach maybe, definitely ill in your spine though. So now the water is almost to your waist, now its to your navel, that little divot underneath your sternum, your nipples, now your throat and holy fuck you are about to drown and how did this even happen and why and why can’t you just go back and maybe spend less time relishing the cover, or the act of waiting itself but why should you have to rush that beautiful tension when you just want to appreciate everything, taste every single individual sumptuous fraction of a moment before you finally tear into that letter which would have healed you, and its to your eyes, so now nobody can tell that you’re crying, or sobbing more likely, and you don’t even bother to close your eyes because what the fuck’s the point now anyway, and for just a split second you see through the glass and see another tank with your best friend in it holding a different letter, and maybe another letter as well oh-my-god the second one is your letter and then he looks in your eyes and just looks sad, not even gloating, but definitely somewhat disappointed in you, and then yours turns to water in his hands too and his first letter turns to a stone but then the vision fades away and by now you’re pretty much just thinking: why am I not drowning?
So you don’t drown, not in this kind of water, and the other weird thing is that this water somehow feels dry (yet still clammy and wet and so fucking unpleasantly temperate), but in essence, this water is real dry stuff, and you can feel yourself being dried out, your skin becoming desiccated, your tongue is a giant chalky lump in your mouth, you feel like leather or beef jerky or maybe rice paper, but at least the way the light coming from wherever looks incredible when it refracts through the water, at least you can appreciate that- maybe because this is some unusual water and now you realize everything looks heart-breakingly beautiful through this water, even the memory of your friend holding his and your letters and looking sad looks beautiful through this water, retroactively. You’ve thought about drowning before, too, and now you just wish you were drowning, you’d welcome the liquid penetration of your throat your trachea your lungs with gusto, you’d invite it over for dinner, and you’d make a damn fine dinner for your wonderful, gracious, esteemed guest, Drowning, but unfortunately Drowning isn’t returning your calls, and you’re just left not-drowning, but drying out, and the chalkiness is the only thing penetrating you, and at this point you wonder how is there even room in your body for you to be this shrivelled up, this compressed, and are you still going to be this perfectly, acutely aware once you finally become a bunch of dry, dusty, powdery nothing in a giant solution?
You think: probably.
It turns out: definitely. So now you’re just a solution of some kind of bullshit pseudo-water mixed with your awful powdery fully-sentient-and-aware pseudo-dust self. The miracle is you get pretty used to this existence, you’ve always prided yourself on your adaptability and lately you’ve been getting into Stoicism, so that helps, but so you get used to being a solution even though you used to be a whole person with a whole beautiful life, but at least now you can see everything else in the world through the water and the glass, all the other whole persons, and you wonder if your best friend is also a solution now or something different or hopefully still a whole person and he somehow escaped, you thought you could see everyone and everything but now you realise you can’t see him and you don’t know, but at least everything you can see looks so achingly beautiful through this water, and then it happens: everything shatters, like glass, like Christmas-Tree-Ornament glass, even, it all just shatters and its so instant it looks like rainfall, and then your own shattered dust, which you can’t really see how dust would be capable of shattering, but so it goes, your own shattered dust hits the ground, and then you wake up.
You were dozing at the train station, having what passerby had been quietly remarking looked like a nightmare of exceptional fidelity. You look around, obviously shaken, still groggy, but also pretty relieved. You’re at the train station because you have today and the next day off work, and you needed a detox, so you just decided to get on a train and go somewhere beautiful, somewhere you always wanted to go. You chose transit via locomotive because you’ve never been on a train before, but you have a romanticized idea of what it looks like when landscapes pass by your window. Right now you’re just glad you were only dreaming, and you just kind of sit there, taking a mental smoke-break. The train you need to catch is the A-train, Northbound. Right now you’re looking at your hands, because at this moment, you are just glad to have hands instead of dust, and you see your knees, below your hands, and you are glad those are not dust either. Ditto your feet, and the rest of you.
Eventually you raise your gaze, and see one of the trains about to make its departure, its a gorgeous train, shiny red-painted cars embroidered with green and gold and highly reflective windows, windows into parallel universes where everything looks pretty much the same but there’s only a slice of the total amount of stuff, and it’s all actually two-dimensional anyway, just an illusion, because that’s how mirrors and reflective surfaces like windows work. You like to think about how massive a train is, how much potential energy is being stored, stretched to its breaking point, and now released as the train departs. You love the slow grind of metal wheels on metal rails; you love the way the chugging sound starts out so slow you don’t even know its a sound yet but then it just moves up through its curve and then all the sudden you hear a perfect rhythm like maybe a marching band or something. You especially love the sonder, wondering where all those other people are grinding and chugging and marching off to, what problems are they escaping, are they going to work, is it a family vacation, a meeting, finally, of long-distance lovers, people starting a new life, drug dealers and drug searchers-for, children who will be delighted by the train as it passes through their towns and maybe they put a penny on the track and you think about how delighted will these children be when they get their first flattened penny, maybe there is a killer on this train, maybe there are doctors, maybe somebody got sick or injured while the train was still in station and one of those doctors saved his or her life, are there freaks on this train, you wonder, or is everybody pretty much standard passenger fare, there is a soldier looking through the slowly-sliding-into-whatever-future-may-be window, back at his wife and kids, trying to pass his entire soul to her like uploading a hard drive because he knows he might die and he can see how hungrily she is devouring what of himself he sends to her through his gaze and he wants them to be together even if or when he dies, wants some part of himself to be there to watch his children grow, so that someday they might go to play down by the train tracks and get shiny new flattened pennies.
You wonder too what kind of people will be on your own train, and this gets you excited because then you’ll be on the train and you’ll see the people and it won’t be speculation. You look at the train schedule- your train will depart at 11:30. You watch the last car of that other train slide out of the station you notice a great big letter ‘A’ projected onto the rear display. You look down at your watch, it’s 11:33.
You can’t go back,
You can’t go back.
You think back on the last few days last few weeks, why are you here, do you really need to get away or will it be O.K. to just
You think: of course it will be O.K. I’m just being overly melancholic melodramatic myopic maybe a little misanthropic, you hope you aren’t being misanthropic but then here you are there you were thinking you hate someone you don’t hate, and I mean how can you hate that person?
It’s the person who’s letter you didn’t get to read, who’s letter never existed, and who you only thought, and in a dream no less, knew what you thought only you knew what you might truly want to see painted onto a surface. And anyway the dream felt more real than real life because you feel like you’re still in that dream anyway, still living that same existence but with different aesthetics. So now: do you stay, walk away from the train and the wonder and the love that’s already slipped through your fingers anyway, or do you choose a new train or another time, maybe start a new life where
Nope, you won’t be doing that because you’re not even at a train station, you’re just laying down and there’s her hand and look at it, the perfect thing, and pleasegodohpleasepleasegod can you please just hold that hand, and then a face, it peers round a pillow and there are eyes on that face, you look at them but then you look away because you always do that, those eyes are so big and so soft and there are worlds within them that you just want to explore but now you can’t because somebody else is and those eyes just make you so nervous you want to cry but you don’t, well maybe a little moisture, just there, in the corner of your eye, but you just want to look into her eyes, forever, but you’re afraid to, afraid that those worlds are not open to you and if you look in her eyes for too long you’ll know they’re not open to you, instead of just imagining, and of course you know that the fear is worse and that you should just savor every chance you get anyway but you
and don’t even think about holding those hands,
because even though she would be perfectly happy to hold hands, you’re pretty sure, it wouldn’t mean the same thing to each of you, to her it means she loves you, to you it means you’re in love with her, but so you do also love her, the same way she loves you, so you can’t let it be a lie, and you can’t let it be unknown, because nobody should be closed off or afraid of telling someone how they feel, and you aren’t, if nothing else, but you just feel so close yet so fucking far away, like you’re right next to your heart’s greatest desire, your bodies are literally touching right now but then the plot twist is that you just don’t actually exist.
How can you even be in this situation? This situation is not possible, even less so than a letter turning to water, definitely water, but water which ignores physics, makes a mockery of what water is supposed to be like. Still, that seems more possible than this situation, because it just isn’t possible to be made so happy and so sad at the same time, especially since its almost like its not happening, like there is no situation and you just think there is or want there to be and really you’re just losing you’re fucking mind completely, I mean, you’re ranting dejectedly about god-knows-what right at this very moment, and nobody else can even tell, apparently, although that surprises you too because it seems like a pretty fucking dejected and broken rant, like its pretty obvious, like you’re you and even then you can tell, so why can’t anybody else, apparently.
Maybe you just built a really nice wall, even though you never meant to.
Maybe this is just how life is, and its hypocritical that you’re being so sad about it anyway, like weren’t you the one bringing up Stoicism? Because that isn’t this, not by a long fucking shot, no sir, no ma’am, this is you’re sliding down a mountain or really big window, or frozen lake that somehow engineered itself at like maybe seven degrees of incline, just something slippery and without handholds or an end, and you just
pretty much forever, is what it’s felt like, but really its only been like a month or two, probably two or three but how can you expect to notice the passage of time when you’re just endlessly sliding down some slippery fucking slope? And anyway, it started as like a luge or something, something fun and exciting and what makes you giddy and like you have butterflies in your stomach because it’s just so fast free fun and you’re in love and you can’t tell time because like you’re in love, that’s how it is, it’s amazing, it’s so fucking amazing, like you were already broken before and then you went on this trip, just to go luging with your friends, and now everything is okay again in your life, you love life now, wow life is delicious, its zesty, and wow, just wow, can you even imagine what the future may hold, and then apparently it just holds the awful awful slow sickening slide into basically the emotional equivalence of hard-core chemical dependence, like the kind where you literally know how bad you need to just extricate yourself from the situation, but you don’t, you never do, you just keep coming back to it because maybe this time you can hold her hands, or maybe the time after that, and then her hands will give you strength, will give you the strength not to be a pussy so you can actually look into her eyes for a while without getting nervous and looking away.
And why the hell are you ranting like this, you think, because you know it just makes you look bad, maybe not bad but definitely pathetic, like do you think it’s going to help you, really? No, of course not, except in the way vomiting helps you get disease out of your body, you’re pretty much just vomiting all over the place, all these words, and you want somebody to actually look at it, sift through it? You want somebody you care about to have to spend time up close and personal with your vomit, to actually analyze it and dissect it and find out which parts are what, you actually want somebody to have to do that?
So much fucking yes, that’s exactly half of all you’ve ever wanted; the other half is that you want to do the same thing with somebody else’s vomit, like you want to give them all of your vomit in exchange for all of their vomit, all of it, every last disgusting horrifying deeply-buried seems-like-nobody-should-ever-have-to-see-this-shit emotional drop. You want it to infect you, make you sick, make you produce even more of your own vomit, burn your mouth and throat because its just acidic and awful but with god as your witness, and you don’t even believe in god, hence the lowercase ‘g’, but anyway he’s your witness now, and you tell him yessir mister god, I want to consume her vomit because I love how awful and acidic and gross it is, its part of her, after all,
and part of myself as well.
But then she looks at you, you make eye contact, and all you feel is warmth and goodness like you’re in whatever heaven is supposed to be like or maybe back in the womb or on the beach and the sun just feels so nice and so warm, then she grabs your arm,hungrily, coyly, your hands become linked, you feel strong, you feel like you exist, all you want is to feel like you exist, like you’re the only thing that exists except for her, like you’re the only two people in the world and you’re on the beach and its perfect, and next thing you know you’re just laying there happy, so happy, and then you are playing with each other’s hair, and you can feel it in the length of your body, even the softest touch, even the not-quite touches, its electric, she laughs, sometimes just with the outermost delicate corners of her mouth, upturned ever-so-slightly like its the most delicate thing in the world, like a beautiful flower, a lotus, maybe a chrysanthemum, and its made of like glass, such wispy gorgeous threads of glass and then the fog behind your eyes clears and you realise here you are,
you’re sitting on your bed and you’re holding a letter- unopened.