Entanglements

Bradon Matthews

I find myself in need of journaling now. Being alone for so long has left me . . . lonely? No, not lonely, but unremembering. I find myself staring at the walls, unable to recall what they may have seen yesterday or the day before. That seems like no way to live, so frantically revived each moment to the next. And so here I am, writing this to myself so as to gain some semblance of permanence.

It is an easy life. I live by my own rules, abide by my own principles, and I watch such things flower without much thought. What the eyes of others would think if they saw me I do not know; my own fail to inform my opinions anymore. Only I do know that there is some certainty I miss in those gazes, feeling fixed to my body as a moth to a board in a museum. Can a man live, only looking outward?  I don’t know, for I have not had company for, well, for a long time anyway.

Within these walls my elements float free, dissociating from each other between the kitchen and the living room, intermingling only for a moment, transferring my body between them. I need something to gather them together. It can’t be healthy, this nothingness of self. Chemistry seems an abstract essence, unsustainable to say the least.

Once I could almost gather them myself, or at least see them gathered in my  reflection. The mirrors evaporated from my walls long ago, though. At first the freedom was intoxicating. No more set flesh, no crooked nose, no tired eyes, not a wrinkle or a hair in sight. Can you imagine, to be free of the body itself, to dissolve? God I felt free then! But a man must be defined. It is a contingency of living. And so I shall write in an effort to remember definition.

What shall I write about? I don’t yet have the answer to that question. Myself most likely, what I find in the patterns of ten o’clock coffee or sunset readings. Perhaps I shall find something to remember in these breaths, something to tell someone one day. Perhaps not, but all of life is an experiment, and I intend to be a good scientist.

This morning I awoke as always, went to the coffee maker, and made the stuff. I watched the brown liquid dripping into the carafe, each drop disappearing into the whole. When the brew was ready, I could almost see myself in the glass surface.

I poured myself a cup, only by the time I sat to drink, I had forgotten where I got the ceramic vessel! “What a strange thing,” I thought, “to have something and not know how.” And then my attention flittered to the liquid itself, its smooth heat as I sat in deglutition, its hesitance to reform as little rebel streams clung to the side of the cup. It all seemed so arbitrary, like the laws of this thing’s behavior had been made up by a child.

I daresay I spent a good few minutes thinking these things. I thought of the cup and the coffee, their relation to each other, my relation to them. I thought it until I felt almost sick with the contingencies of these relations. And so what did I do? I threw the cup on the floor, coffee and all! I smashed the thing, then I smashed the carafe, watching its brunette tinged glass spread. Then the machine itself, though it refused to be disestablished so neatly. A few more throws finished it, distributing it across the tile in a little mosaic of properties, unchanged in nature, but unrecognizable. And somehow it felt like all of myself lay there on the floor, disorganized and disassembled. “How beautiful,” I thought, as I walked over the shatterings. The counter too. It was empty in the most splendid way, freed of all necessities. I could place anything there: a flower, a pot, a stack of books. Wonderful. What a thing, to be an absence, to be without really being anything at all. Ah, the sight of the empty space, what a wonder!

Tomorrow I shall not have coffee. That itself is something.

I write late today. Had I any windows, I believe I would see the sun kiss the world goodnight. I have a clock, though I had forgotten it. Strange how the ticking can become so familiar it is beyond recognition, a heartbeat almost. How long has it been since I questioned the hour? No matter, for these things always are, questioned or not.

When I awoke this morning I was shocked to discover the coffee and the coffee maker, or at least the fragments of it, gone! Not just gone, but as though they had never been there at all; no stains on the floor, no shards, no dust collection where the thing had sat on the counter, only nothing. And yet I remember it, and it is as though that has made the space permanently tinged with “not having the coffee maker.” If only such things could be summoned up at will! What a splendid world we would have, inhabited by not-flamingos, by not–dancing stars, by not-sanity! All would fit just right I would think, each one painting the same landscape with different eyes, finding the lack of something delightful. I would imagine a world designed for pleasure, baited for the moment to usher in its completion. What a joy, a receptacle just waiting to be filled with delights, as a lock waits for a key.

What did I do with my morning? Well, I don’t seem to recall. Perhaps the words aren’t there to explain. I was. To a degree, that explains everything, but as for the specifics, I suppose they will go unlabeled. I am most fond of that approach.

Today I discovered something delightful. I was pacing between rooms, listening to my feet touch the tile floors, when I caught in the corner of my eye the sight of a beautiful mahogany bookshelf. It was just sitting there, waiting for me. How had I forgotten it!

What books I found lining those shelves, all cocooned in dust; what foreign stories! Each one a tale of some man or woman, some event, some context.

It has been so long since I read anything fictional. The titles alone were almost too much for me. I never understood the writing of fiction. Deprived of realistic correspondence, things seem so arbitrary. How does one create without reason? So strange it was, seeing those pages, hundreds upon hundreds of them, filled with words, without justification. Easy to imagine things, but much harder to create, and harder still to stand by creation to the point of completion.

I stared at the books so long, long enough to forget that there were people behind them. The things themselves started unstitching, until all I could see was paper, paper, paper! It was no trouble, really, to pull the pages apart. It seemed as much an intellectual endeavor as reading. Laid out on the floor, excerpt after excerpt, beauty incarnate. It was my own story now, free to be pieced together, to jump scenes. No continuity; and truer for it!

Afterwards, well, what do I recall?  I do say I must have fallen asleep, and in my sleep I dreamed that everything was empty, gone from my apartment, gone from my life. I dreamed the apartment itself disappeared, the walls evaporating, and then the walls of myself. And there I was, an expanse of nothing, not seeing, not feeling, almost not being but that I had been, and even that was unremembered.  All contingency, all freedom, afloat in the void, with no need of interaction.

I woke to the clock ticking. I likely won’t sleep tonight.

So strange it is, that the books and the bookshelf too have disappeared! Gone, just as the coffee maker is. Only a haunting presence, an absence of the things. I wonder sometimes if I am not imagining these things. Did they really exist at all? Certainly something sat there, where I now cast my eyes and find nothing, but to be the book or the bookshelf or the page, is there even such a thing? Ah this abstraction, better to focus on the concrete.

Well and just so, I am sat now in a joyous little chair I have placed in the corner. The wood, how fine it is, with little carvings along the legs depicting some mythic journey. So detailed is it that I can lose myself in staring, lose myself in the eyes of the horse three inches down, the helmet of the brave warrior just beneath. I’d forget it was wood if only I had a bit more imagination!

I think this will be my new writing spot. It is so calm, so quiet. Aside from the clock ticking no noise at all. Some would perhaps be bothered by that rhythmic click of the second hand, but not me. I find it nice, grounding, a reliable friend. Were it not for him, I should say I would be in the kitchen and the dining room all at once!

A dream, just a dream. I had this, this full length mirror, only it seemed detached from anything at all. It just floated there, without a frame. I approached it, and I saw myself, but strangely, in the way one sees a green blur in the distance and calls it a tree. That’s all I was, a blurred outline, a mirage dancing upon fleshy waves. I enjoyed watching the wriggling aura, chasing it from my feet to my navel and back again. My gaze was always upon liquid, though the image was such that I’d have sworn I could fixate on something touching it, anchoring it. What fanciful fun, always seeing the movement but feeling there was a solidity just above or below, if only I could look fast enough to catch it.

It led me on a chase from the navel to the shoulders, to the arms and hands and fingers, to the neck. I chased the thing until finally I was led to the eyes. Oh god, those eyes! The only permanence was to be found there, burning orange and deep set and unwavering. They gripped my ankles and wrists and held me still. That, I was sure, was the end of me. Then they started looking me up and down, and I was looking through them too, retracing the very same path I had blazed with the aura. Only this time, there was no dancing flesh, no fluidity, only opaque essence. It was all decided; I was all decided. Or was I the decider? Or merely a decision?

The gaze, mine or whatever’s, finished its looking and watched the body turn to bone and collapse.

This chair, to sit in it is nearly overwhelming. The ornamentation so distracting; as though the thing were a play rather than a piece of furniture! How can one see with so many thoughts competing? No, no peace while it is here, not while it distracts me from what it really is. What is it really though? Some wood, even that just a dead tree. And what is a tree to me? What is a tree to anyone? Can such a thing be decided?

Too much, it is too much to decide! Action, that is the way for a man like me. Not the action of the craftsmen, the action of the chambermaid. Away with this smut which stains my life. Away!

It is done. The chair is smashed. I sit on the floor now, the room indeed brimming with vacancy. Just the clock remains, the insatiable clock. Tick tick tick!

Smashed it to bits, to bits, but the ticking continues. Always watching, inescapable.

This morning I found something most peculiar. I walked out to the vast emptiness and was preparing to sit down, when I found a door, great and white and unadorned. Just a door. It sits right where the clock once hung. And now it faces me; a brilliant move! What shall I do?

I have no reason to be here. The apartment is vacant, entirely empty. I can dance here, I can paint the walls, I can destroy and build and see with veracity. But what reason have I to stay? Alone as ever, undefined, beautifully sinister I am in my lack of bounds. Shall I sit and think? Ah but the clock ticks on! Always ticking, sitting or standing or turning the knob.

The apartment is empty, I have no reasons.


Bradon Matthews is a freelance writer and lover of philosophy. He enjoys creative writing as a way to express the thoughts and feelings he picks up from the philosophical texts he reads. “It’s also nice just to have an outlet. I wrote this story as a way to avoid going mad in quarantine. May it find you well.”