Something is off in here. I can’t get to where I mean to be going. When I try to walk from the kitchen to the library I end up in the den. When I try to go from the master bedroom to the kitchen I end up outside a lot of the time and sometimes I end up in the hall coat closet. There aren’t any coats in there either. There’s nothing in there. I’m tired. I’m tired of this. I want to lie down and not get up. I want to go somewhere else for a while. This is where I live.
Something is off in here. When I try to stand up on the bed and touch the ceiling I can’t reach the ceiling anymore. I know I used to be able to. The ceiling was cold and flat and someone seemed to be there just on the other side of it like me touching too. Now they only talk when I am talking so I can’t hear what they say. When I try to be quiet so long that they get antsy of waiting and talk anyway without me talking it never happens. I can’t sleep. I can’t not sleep either because I’m always sleeping but not in the way I want to. I touch the wall. I try to imagine instead of only ever through the ceiling the voice is in the next room but when I go in there there’s no one there.
It’s been too long like this. I keep waiting for it to not be like this and it’s always like this. Something is off in here. I can’t even stop myself from saying things I’ve said before. I open my mouth and it just comes out and it’s my voice and so I’ve said it. I often don’t even feel my hands. Sometimes I will find that I have been rubbing at my skin so hard in the way I’d rub on the ceiling when there was someone in there that I’ve rubbed the skin bright red or even sometimes full on through. That hurts. I don’t like that. I don’t like this.
What do you think I should do. It’s okay if you just speak out and tell me. I won’t let them know you’re there. It’s a promise. And I will do it. Tell what I should do and I will do it. Anything. I’ll do anything.
I understand. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to speak. It’s like the whole time a voice is coming out there’s no way to think behind it. If I were you I wouldn’t talk ever either.
Something is off in here. I’m not even saying it out of repetition this time. I really feel like I mean it. I really felt like I wanted to say it and then I did. If you were speaking then when I spoke too you should say the thing you said again right now so I can hear. Maybe you didn’t realize you were speaking. That happens to me too. I’ll find myself suddenly in mid-sentence and realize I’ve been saying all this other stuff without having known. Maybe you were doing that just now. Maybe it ended before you came back and realized and so it felt like you hadn’t even talked.
When I try to go from the master bedroom to the outside I end up in this room. I call it the recording room because I know I am being recorded even though there’s nothing in the room but me when I am in it. Sometimes I feel like when I leave this room and close the door behind me as soon as the room is hidden it appears filled again with the machines. I know the machines are recording what I’m saying and I believe they might be also recording me on video. Sometimes I wait at the door after I have closed it just long enough for the machines to think I’m gone and come back out into the room and then I bust back in to try to catch them and see the whirling tapes and my body on the monitors but that’s not how this works. That’s not how this works, right?
Something’s… oh, shut up. I’m tired of hearing myself say anything really. But I keep saying it. I always find me saying it. I have so much to give to the machines and I don’t care who hears me or what they do with it. They can take my voice and sell it to anyone and keep all the money. They are hiding. I don’t care. They can rip me limb from limb.
Something is off in here. I try to lie down and then I’m just right there standing up. I try to paint a picture of the room or draw a map of the room and it’s all scribble or it’s my name written again and again or it’s words to a book I haven’t even read or can’t remember reading or I’m not even writing but having dinner. The more I eat the more I’m hungry and I can’t stop wanting to eat more but there’s only so much food in this house on any given instance. I don’t know where the food comes from. I’ll eat whatever’s in the pantry or the fridge until it’s all gone and then the next day or later there’ll be more. It’s not usually food I’d pick out myself. I don’t like a lot of things. I don’t like to eat a lot of things. Sometimes it’s exactly food I’d pick out myself, though, like every item I’d ever want, but I know I didn’t bring it in here and so that makes me suspicious and makes the food taste less good. I try to go shopping for the food myself so I can feel confident in the selection and feel good about eating it but no matter how far I walk from here there isn’t any store. They’re all just houses. Houses and more houses, no one in them.
Something is off. I can’t get where I mean to be going. I wonder how many times I’ve said or thought that I not realized what I said. It seems like I’ve said or though it maybe something like ten or fifteen times today, but maybe it’s more like forty or sixty, due to how much I feel like there are things I’m saying that I can’t remember saying coupled with the regularity of times I know I’ve said that phrase. Then if you add up the number of times I’ve probably said that over days or weeks before now, assuming I say the same kinds of things each day, which seems very true, then maybe I’ve said that phrase more times even than I’ve said my own name or simple things like hello or yes, being as those things are things you commonly say to others in passing or conversation but I can’t remember ever seeing anyone in this house today or any day but me.
If they’d let me listen to my tapes or watch myself on the videos, I’d have a much better idea of how many times I say certain things, and I’d also be able to verify whether or not there are other people in here I’m not seeing or who I see and don’t remember. Like if there is someone making changes to my house that makes where I expect to end up when walking somewhere specific and then ending up somewhere entirely different keep happen. Like when I need badly to go to the bathroom and all I can ever find is where we keep the food. The food the food the food the food.
I know there were times when I knew where I was going. Or at least there were times when I wanted to go to a particular location and felt I knew the way to walk there and indeed when I walked there I ended up where I had meant. There was a person who had laid beside me when there was a place where I laid down. I remember the person had thick arms and a small midsection. There was hair around the face. I remember the tongue and how sometimes it seemed like there were several tongues in the same socket. I loved this person. I do know that. I do know that the person who was there then and now seems no longer here, I had loved that person. I don’t try to think about their name. When in the past I’ve tried to think of what the name was and how it felt to say it aloud to the person there instead of just at air of nothing where the person could be now and is not it hurts like being mushed between two panes of glass, a kind of pain you can’t see but can feel all over your arms.
There is nowhere to lie down now. I mean really everywhere is a place to lie down and I could lie down on any of it at any time and there I’d be, but the person would not be beside me and it wouldn’t be soft like a bed is supposed to so that sleeping feels like something nice. There are still the rooms I call the bedrooms when I can find them and there are still the beds in those rooms very often but they never feel like beds did when I laid beside that person. I can never get myself feeling calm, no matter how long I lie on the bed and wait on the bed to feel that feeling of drifting off into oblivion as if forever the way I did then when there felt like something more to rise for in the morning and become.
Sometimes I’ll walk so long inside the house here or outside the house around it I feel sure I must be getting somewhere even if it’s not quite where I meant but no matter where I end up I never feel as if I’ve come anywhere at all. As if I’ve only ever been standing in whatever room or section of outside I am in at any given moment on forever. Even in remembering I’ve moved I feel this way. Even in having names for different places in the spaces like kitchen and lakeside and burial station and recording room and stairs and even in knowing I have been in some of those other places before the place where I am in at any instant, I still can’t shake the idea I’m just right here, that nothing is really changing and I’m not moving and any day is now.
Feels like I shouldn’t say anything else. Feels like I should wait silently for you to say something and not give in. I always give in so fast. I always can’t stop myself from doing the thing I know by doing disrupts the thing I actually really want. Like right now. I’m still talking even while saying the thing I want is to hear you, or really anyone but me at all.
BLAKE BUTLER is from Atlanta and Tyrant Books will release his new novel Sky Saw on 12/4/12.