The Other Two (A Study in Unreliable Narration)
It was as if I were in the audience for some grand spectacle. I didn’t remember my arrival and couldn’t fathom how to leave, only that I wanted to stay. Although the lights on the performance were brilliant, illuminating every detail of the act, the crowd around me was in twilight. I sensed grey-black forms in the gloom but all particulars were lost to me. As I tried to approach, they eluded me, twisting and blending together in a way I found acutely disturbing. Although I could feel a multitude around me, it occurred to me that perhaps I was experiencing this alone.
At 1:20pm, when I awoke for the fourth and final time that day, it was raining against my window.
Already two things that I have told you are lies.
You are all guessing that I lied about the time of day or the fact that I had already awoken three times before, but you are all wrong.
Truth #1: It wasn’t raining.
The temperature had risen so quickly since sunrise struck, that snow from the eaves of the house was turned waterfall down my window. Constantly and methodically, it struck a steady rhythm throughout the day.
I lied to you again. Well, in fairness, I repeated a lie.
This time, two of you are unsure, timid from your previous failure, but have actually guessed it correctly. One of you is confident in her answer, but is wrong. The rest have stopped reading, already back to your normal lives. For those who persist, the remainder is just a short slide down the rabbit-hole.
Truth #2: It wasn’t my window.
Of the three of you, one assumes that it was mine but it wasn’t a window. One assumes that it was a window but didn’t belong to me. Only one is clever enough not to assume and wait for more context.
I was in someone else’s room in someone else’s house listening to someone else’s melting snow fall on someone else’s window. And had been there for quite some time. Measured in months, hours, or days, my hermitage was equal parts embarrassing and impressive.
My vagabond’s cache of supplies squatted in one corner: 11 hangers holding shirts and pants, 1 pile of dirty laundry, 7 movies, 13 books, 2 full bottles of wine, 9 empty bottles of wine, a hat, a coat, a pair of shoes, and a pack of cigarettes.
One of you is interested in what books I own. One of you is guessing the brand of cigarettes I smoke. One of you wants to know what kind of wine I drink and why I drink so much of it. All of you are missing the point.
The room was a square. Pistachio-green walls with an eggshell-white ceiling. Two twin beds dominated the majority of the space. The rest of the items in the room threw my personal possessions into sharp contrast:
A wicker rack filled with cook-books and photo albums, matching antique dressers with matching twelve-sided mirrors, black and white photographs, a framed tri-corner flag from a military burial, potted plants, hand-knitted blankets, and a closet full of board games from no later than the 1970s.
One of you is speculating whose room this is. One of you is guessing at my purpose in staying there. One of you is focused on the military flag with the bold conjecture that I have buried this highly relevant detail inside a list of red-herrings. You are mistaken.
Read back on what I have shown you so far. Are you standing in the room? Can you hear the melting snow staccato against the window? Can you see the hanging shirts, the twelve-sided mirrors, the cigarettes, the cookbooks? Am I there with you? Yes, you see me, lying in my bed at 1:20, listening to the window music. Perhaps I am writing on a notepad, speaking to you, or simply thinking these words onto your page.
Now, look to your left. Look to your right. Who is there?
No one? You disappoint me.
There are three of you.