When I first attempted fiction writing I composed the most elaborate, fantastical allegories without any inhibition. They were full of clichés and dull allusions, but I gave them every bit of soul and care that I could muster. My first story was about a girl who I never named, instead solely referring to her as She.
She lived in a sanity warehouse, a factory that assembled sterile minds. The walls were white, the floors damp gray, the rooms shaped like cubic cells. Every morning her nurse brought the pillsː two blue rounds, one white ladder, one orange capsule. She had been taking them since her first day in the place, a day she could scarcely remember anymore. It had been at least a year, she thought. Her recollection of life outside the factory varied by day; at times she had vivid flashes of her former existence, images of her body moving through tasks, places, faces, crowds. She did not know what her prior occupation was, she knew only of her life as it surreptitiously looped around her cell.
I can hear someone shrieking from where I sit. A boy is crying in the library, two girls are patting his back. He just sat in the desk behind me. He is saying, Oh God. He is sobbing, wheezing, hysterical. Does he know that I am right in front of him? A girl just walked over toward him laughing a little, telling him he is okay, not to cry, that she can’t deal with emotions. She is saying “you’re fine dude, you just got drunk and wrapped up in the drama.” My sympathy evaporated upon the mention of the word “drunk.” This is the library. There is nowhere else to go for quiet focused solace— which is slowly becoming a pipe dream, even here.
Situations like that make me ache with loneliness, not for myself so much as for the entire world. No one on this earth will ever know the absence of loneliness. But now my patience is plummeting, the same group is laughing now, louder and louder, playground noises. What ever happened to recess anyways? Is recess in adult life available only by the bottle? We have robbed our own lives of any semblance to play, and left now to our closest imitationː a chemical elixir. How ugly how fast.
She wandered out of her cell one day, leaving her silhouette behind. Similar to how twins might play tricks on their teachers by trading places for a day. That has been one of the greatest regrets pushing my life forward through the years ː that I was born twinless, that I sprouted in complete form, that I wasn’t granted a carbon copy for reference. I want something that looks almost exactly like I do, looks like and looks at—
looking looks for a counterbalance ː tandem, center weight, pull of poles.
We could have done so much more in two bodies. But without a twin I have been forced to become a Rumplestiltskin of forms.
But all at once the door opened, and in came a little man,
and said, good evening, mistress miller, why are you crying so.
Alas, answered the girl, I have to spin straw into gold, and I do
not know how to do it. What will you give me, said the
manikin, if I do it for you. My necklace, said the girl. The
little man took the necklace, seated himself in front of the
wheel, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three turns, and the reel was
full, then he put another on, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three times
round, and the second was full too. And so it went on until
the morning, when all the straw was spun, and all the reels
were full of gold.
Who is the girl and who is the strange creature? I hear the whirr, am I spinning the gold? How will I ever know?
Once or twice or three times, I saw something
rise from the dust in the yard, like the soul
of the dust, or from the field, the soul-body
of the field – rise and hover like a veil in the sun
billowing – as if I could see the wind itself.
I thought I did it – squinting – but I didn’t.
As if the edges of things blurred – so what was in
bled out, breathed up and mingled: bush and cow
and dust and well: breathed a field I walked through
waist high, as through high grass or water, my fingers
swirling through it – or it through me. I saw it.
It was thing and spirit both: the real
world: evident, invisible.