You have to understand, they’re not ordinary doors.
There are many doors and drawers and other hinged pieces of wood over holes in walls, like empty eyelids, that exist every day. They stand where they should be, in walls, silent and concealing. Anyone can open them. Anything could be behind them, so that the simple act of walking through could change your life, but walking through one will not dissolve you and reform you anew.
When I speak of doors they are not metaphorical. I am not talking in terms of tired aphorisms for opportunity, a misplaced cosmic sense of justice that says you are not lost because there is a puppet master pulling your marionette strings. One day, in a place, there will be a door where none should be.
They have been in the middle of train tracks. On the sides of mountains. Standing out in fields under the fuming yellow tornado sky.
Once I walked into a door that was grown into the side of a tree, but I did not fall down a rabbit hole. I think, however, that I grew taller, or small.
There are so many layers of memories that I can’t… I can’t sort them properly. I haven’t been able to since I came here. I don’t know if I could before.
If Sarah can walk through the doors, your doors do not stalk you as mine stalk me. Perhaps this is why the sun is not hungry for the taste of my skin, no toothlight devouring me. The doors have already hollowed me out from the inside like a pumpkin, smile carved on no matter how I feel.
I have only now noticed that I feel empty.
Alone in this house, with the wallpaper and the aching empty sky, that is a dangerous feeling. No one is watching me, and no one will care what I do, not even myself. I have never been completely alone in the world before, and I don’t know if humans can truly go on living with no one and nothing to live for. Perhaps if this goes on I’ll collapse into a singularity of howling dark, the black hole absence of all things that I cannot imagine.
Have you ever wanted to not be? Not to die, but to leave awareness for a time. To sleep like a tree, with no dreams but the wind and the sun. I am so tired.
Perhaps I should go back to the beginning.
Hello, Seth. I am sorry that you could not go outside today. Perhaps you should move the desk. Or buy curtains.
I think it would be very hard for me to live with another person again, unless I went through another door, because it has been so long and other people press against your eardrums and leave their dishes on top of the refrigerator. At least when it’s only you, you have only your past self to blame for any inconveniences that you have. And you can press yourself into a corner behind a bookcase and wait for the view outside the window to change.
People are like trees, I think. They need space. But not too much.
Today I waited for the window to change, but it never did, so I went down into the basement and climbed the ladder that goes down and down and up into the blank garden. Nothing lives there, so I thought that the red sun in that desolate sky might be starving.
Desolate comes from the word for loneliness. Or perhaps it means “without solace.” The dictionary that lives in the kitchen cupboard always works, but I don’t know if I trust it. Humans have a habit of sucking the meaning out of words, like spiders suck the juice out of flies and leave the husks.
Here, in the corners, there are no cobwebs.
Spiders do it for hunger. Perhaps humans feed on truth.
If your sun is a spider and the earth is a web perhaps that explains the stickiness, the liquefaction of going through a door and coming out on the other side, parts of me left behind and torn off in the web. Perhaps the sun will not eat me because I have walked between the strings, tearing off my wings and a few legs, and you’re caught on a tripline.
The languages of the encyclopedia are square and grey, or looped round and round indefinitely , or spike shaped and dull with a tearing sound. When the letters are familiar the words are not, a long scream of vowels or a string of consonants ticked one by one out into the void, perhaps by something with a beak.
Then I open the book again and find an entry on something I can read, and all the pages seem normal.
I remember the process of dying so clearly that it has drained so much else of who I was from my mind. I remember a grey-green office and all sorts of faces. People who thought that what they were doing was very important and synergetic, and used a lot of big words that they didn’t understand, which rang hollow as they shattered on the floor, carpet over concrete. I remember leafing through a glossy magazine full of white houses, white kitchens, white linen living rooms, white fluffy bedrooms like sterile clouds.
I had a tank full of lizards, in that life or another, and I hope someone is looking after them now that I’m gone.
In my most recent life I don’t think I knew who I was, really, until very close to the end. I remembered things that I shouldn’t and buried them deep, living the dream-logic life of someone who got by. I am nearly certain you wouldn’t have liked me then. I’m not sure I liked me.
I have a bed. Other than the kitchen chairs and the chair in front of the computer, it is the only place in the house to sit. On the piano bench, you have to perch. The bed looks out the three great windows that look sometimes into the crater, sometimes into the garden.
The downstairs windows are the only ones I crawl out of, though.
At night all the lights in the house come on and I have to run around and shut some off, one by one, hunting for light switches in dark twisty corners. The computer has a long tail of a power cord that disappears into the wall, so I suppose that the house has electricity.
By day, in the dust and the silence and only the sunlight battering against the windows like a panicked bird, you wouldn’t know. There are no power lines crackling overhead, though I suppose they could be lurking underground, feeding the mushrooms in the cellar.
Except for a couple photographs above the piano, the house is eyeless and faceless. It does not have to watch. It knows I am here and that I cannot truly leave.
Sometimes I think that all humans are real, sometimes I think that none are. No one else remembers things from before they existed all tangled up in layers of self, so maybe we’re all a very tiny real caramel center wrapped in layers and layers of chalky, powdered sugar emptiness. Or it could be just me. I might be the one that isn’t real, staring up in bewildered cardboard envy at humans from the front of a cereal box.
In the refrigerator there is a single ginger root, two yams, brown mustard and a bag of marshmallows. There is an empty gallon of orange juice, and the cardboard skins of microwave dinners. In the box on top there is a box of instant ramen cups.
I suppose I could always eat one of the mushrooms. Though, perhaps only once.
If I could have anything, even the non-edible things, in the entire universe, I think I would like to lick the bright flicker fire of an event horizon. The edge between falling into nothing and being ejected out from the rim of nonbeing to tear across the universe as a free photon.
When it comes to something material and theoretically edible, I would like my first taste of chili back. I don’t even know which one it was.
I’m not sure we can bottle the whole sun, out in the freezing void, but perhaps some small part of its toothiness could be extracted, or delayed, so that you can slip through the gaps in the web. Perhaps the fire can be bottled and the hunger extracted, so that it will be nothing but chemistry, carbon chains snapping and turning to smoke once again.
Maybe other people control what they have as a symbolic gesture, preserving themselves somehow from the hunger of the sun.
I warn you that walking off the sticky line will hurt. I don’t know how it’s done, either, if you have no new doors coming for you. I’m not sure it’s better. I might be a juiceless shell.
But I have to do something. And it sounds like you do too.
This is a reply to Seth's most recent letter to Anya.
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