THE ROOM QUIVERED AT THE THOUGHT
(excerpt from A ROOM WITH HOLES)
The Girl woke up, and went to the Room. The Surround was gathering. She was reassured by their shuffle into order, their low murmurs to her, and to each other: the same questions, with the same answers. She gathered herself into their gathering.
Their collective hush was thick in the air. The Surround spoke and their words were a swell rising up, out of their body, filling the Room. No one set the pace, but no one had to: they were attuned to each other, in collective breath. They deferred to each other, and in this deference was love.
The Speaker was in the front of the room, getting ready. They were there to listen to him, and he had prepared his life to be worthy of their attention.
The Speaker stood up; the Surround sat down.
He could not notice the drip of sweat on his skin, or the pace of his heart. Those were things he had learned not to know.
What he did know was this—the buzzing silence before he began, the plan, the jokes, the wink, the recitation, then the shift, being lifted, the words flowing out of his mouth sweet and thick, the exclamation, the outpour, the whisper, the tears.
The Surround did not touch him, yet he knew their embrace.
The time to sit, the time to stand, the time to place in the mouth, the time to chew, to swallow, the time to be silent, the time to cry out. Scripted. They ached for it, this gesture, this definition, a lifeline against the Roar.
LUMINOUS, WRITHING: PRESENT
The Surround was a hum when The Girl saw a flash of something deep within her cornea. An oozing enchantment. There was a vast emptiness and a delicious darkness pouring in, when her shoulders dropped and something in her back unknotted itself. She felt herself entering something deeper, soft focus, rush, and then the trickle turned into a Roar—
She woke up and she was still in the Room.
Staring at the walls of the Room, she noticed for the first time, there were holes once there that had been patched. She thought of finding the places where the holes had been filled, and unfilling them, and immediately blushed, exiled the thought.
In its place was a similar desire: to visit the Pymorphia.
The Pymorphia were in the back, in the hallway, by the water. No one wanted them to be there. Surely, they had moved past that. But there they were: long, slinky, a line gone wrong. They were pointless.
There was talk of getting rid of them, but that was impossible. The Room, as a rule, pretended they didn’t exist, or told them to go here and there, which amounted to the same thing.
The first time the Girl went to visit the Pymorphia, it wasn’t really a visit. She simply noticed them, and made room. This was enough to get looks from the Surround.
The second time, she used pretense. That time she had a word with the Pymorphia. What she said didn’t really matter, only that she had had a word.
The third time, she asked the Pymorphia a question.