Some days the sun is less hungry than others.
Hello again, Jasper. I read your reply to my letter last night.
The therapist’s office is in Magnolia Promenade. The sunlight here is different from the sunlight in San Myshuno. The birds here are very talkative. Your neurochemicals would enjoy it, I think.
You ask me to tell you a story of grace. I don’t know if I can do that.
I can tell you the story of a day when the sun isn’t so hungry.
I will not disturb your mask if you need it. We all have to get through the sun as best we can.
Tell me, about your words; when do you know they are lies, and when do you know they are true?
I ask because I am about to talk to a therapist, and these things concern me. I think that, like you, she does things with her words that I don’t understand.
I don’t believe I was attempting to look behind anything in your letter. Do you look behind things? Do you ever find anything?
Once when I was younger I tried to find out what was behind waffles. It did not go well.
Perhaps I will try some of this wordless communication you mention with the therapist. She will ask why I did not come to my previous appointments, and I will think the sun and a cage and me clawing my way out of this universe at her.
But I was going to tell you the story of a day when the sun isn’t so hungry.
There aren’t as many people out in Magnolia Promenade this morning as there would be in San Myshuno. It’s better when there are less people. I think that the sun’s hunger grows in relation to the number of its possible food sources.
Right now there are only a few early shoppers. There is a slight breeze, the air is cool, and the sunlight is grazing on the bushes and pink willows.
I am not looking forward to explaining my absence, but I do feel a certain calm in my chest. I think it comes from doing something that I know will make Sarah happy. Or at least less angry.
I told her I would come here today. I told her I would try.
It’s better around her. Sometimes it is, anyway. I don’t think the sun wants to eat her. I think it just wants to shine on her.
Other times I think it wants to swallow her into itself and dissolve her in its gases.
The therapist’s name is Maura Schaefer. You would probably like her. She wears a lot of masks and she talks in cardboard words.
Perhaps if I tell her that I played happily with a ball, she will be placated and she will let me out of New Cardboard City.
She smiles at me, but I am sure that a Shakespeare scholar like yourself knows that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
She says, “Hello, Seth,” and I sit down across from her.
She says, “The first missed appointment is free. The second is not. I’m glad you showed up today. Are you going to be coming back?”
The answer is that I don’t know. But I don’t say that. You say that other people don’t like my words. They like their social niceties. I will try that out.
I say, “Yes. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
Her face softens. She responds with, “All right. So, how are you doing today?”
You may be on to something.
How would you answer that question? “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” maybe. Or perhaps, “I am but mad north-north-west.”
Or maybe you wouldn’t say anything, and you would think pictures of the wind bending waves of long grass, rows and rows of tulips, and a colorful silhouette of a man in a meditating position at her.
I think that your approach has merit, and that you know things about other people that I don’t, but I am not you.
I say, “The sun isn’t as hungry today.”
She says, “Well, that’s good,” and I can see that she’s not sure what to make of me.
She asks, “How’s Sarah?”
I tell her, “She’s fine. She’s glad that I came here today. Also I played with a ball like she wanted. Released some endorphins. It was nice.”
I think that must be it, that I’ve assured her that I am perfectly fine and normal and that she’ll let me go now.
Instead she asks, “What do you mean when you say that the sun is hungry?”
I could tell her about the patterns and the emptiness. I could tell her about how no one is real. If you watch them long enough you can see the cardboard. One of the patterns is thinking that it’s the other people who are cardboard.
The human species is a great big mirrored funhouse. It’s distorted projections of the self all the way down.
I could tell her about the terror that comes when I think about being forced into a pattern with no meaning, and how the sun is at its most hungry when I see the empty cardboard suits destroy anything that is real.
I could ask her why I should not my quietus make with a bare bodkin. I am fairly sure that she wouldn’t let me leave then, though. I hope that you, with your background, would realize that it’s just a rhetorical question.
I feel the sun coming through the window behind me. It’s licking at my skin. Trying to find a way in.
I know that the sun is a big ball of gas that does not care about the empty patterns that make up the dominant species on a planet that it provides energy to. I am but mad north-north-west.
I am trying your wordless communication. I am thinking pictures at her.
I imagine a beige carpet and a window with the sunlight streaming through and dust falling through the beams. I imagine a death camp, smoke curling up to the sky from the crematories. I imagine a flag and chants of allegiance. I imagine a dark living room lit only by the blue blinking light of a television. I imagine a billboard looming over a highway, its empty jumble of words grinning down at the people in their cars. I imagine small cheap plastic toys hanging in the aisle of a grocery store. I imagine the faces of dermatologists who hate me for my one weird trick.
I imagine a fire that burns and burns and consumes everything in its path.
She says, “Seth, you okay? You still here with me?”
Your wordless communication did not work. I am sorry. I do not think this is a story about a day when the sun isn’t as hungry anymore.
I tell Maura that I mean exactly what I say. I tell her thank you, but that I don’t think this is helping, and that I won’t be back. I ask her to please not call my phone anymore.
I know Sarah will be upset. If I tell her. Maybe I won’t.
I tried. I really did. But this is not going to work. This is not what I need.
I don’t know what it is I need.
Maybe gasoline. I think gasoline might help. Gasoline and a match and a way out of this universe.
Outside the sun is chewing on the pink willows. Its saliva drips from the green bushes.
I walk through it as it sinks its teethlight into my skin, and I am not afraid.
You are wise to not try to save me.