“Hello,” I said. “I bet you weren’t expecting to find me here.” I wasn’t.
I never imagined I would touch bottom, but here I was, sitting in its silt, wondering the difference between zero and absolute zero. If ‘nothing’ is an absence of ‘something,’ I thought, then what is less than nothing? ‘Nothing’ has a name, quantifying it, making it real, tangible. Something. What is ‘intangible nothing,’ then? What is the unnamable? What does it feel like? Look like? How empty must something be to become ‘unnamably nothing’?
I obviously hadn’t reached it yet. But then again, here I was. When you can’t hear or feel or see or smell anything in any direction, you begin to lose inventory of yourself. My arms and fingers became indistinguishable from the infinite darkness, and my brain lacked the fortitude to tell my arms to touch each other. Were my eyes open or closed? Did it matter? Probably not, given the grand scheme of things.
I had imagined that reaching the bottom would somehow enlighten me–that sinking to the beginning would bestow some grand wisdom upon me. It didn’t. I was merely sitting (or standing or floating or whatever) in inky nothingness. No. That’s not right. Nothing isn’t the right word. Nothing has a name, quantifying it, making it real, tangible…
“Hello.” said a voice.
I said nothing.
“I bet you weren’t expecting to find me here.”
“You can talk. Speak up.”
“Preference, I guess?”
“Progress, I guess.”
“No, you can’t.”
He paused. Then he continued.
“You’re not real. You’re a shadow of me, and right now, I’m sitting at a computer in my apartment, three glasses deep on a bottle of pinot noir, writing you. Frankly, I’m writing me, too, casting two shadows at once, I guess. You’re the part of me that feels like he’s slipping away. I’m the part of me that knows better. There’s a way out of here, you know, and you know what it is.”
“No,” I said. “You’re not real. You’re the something that keeps me from reaching where I’m going. That means I still have further to go.”
“What are you trying to reach?”
“I don’t remember.”
I paused. Then I continued.
“Because I pack myself in a room full of people and feel absolutely alone. No matter who I talk to, no matter what connections I make, I feel utterly hollow. So I stare into emptiness, hoping it will contort into something–like how ceiling stucco twists into shapes and patterns if you stare at it too long. I’ve tried something for too long, and I’m tired of it. I’d like to try nothing for a change.”
“And how have you liked it so far?”
“It’s not what I expected. I thought that sinking to the bottom would somehow give me a better vantage on everything. It hasn’t. That either means that there’s something wrong with me or I haven’t sunk low enough yet. The first terrifies me, so I think I’ll sink a little bit lower.”
“If you’re looking up and seeking a better view, sinking further won’t help. You know this; I know this.”
“Then what do I do? Where do I go?”
Like what you read? There’s more.
“Morning coffee” is a serial fiction series, served fresh daily. So far, we’ve covered rubberneckers, co-workers, cubicle stains, office plants, desk trophies, conspiracies, secret organizations, pocket dimensions, black holes, and impending, inevitable doom. And that’s just the beginning.
Where should we go next? Let me know in the comment section below.