I am safe inside the walls, and the sun cannot get to me.
Hello, Anya. Earlier today the computer chair was in shadow for a time, and I read your letter. I had to read it quickly and then get away before the shadows were eaten by the teethlight. I should move the desk away from the window.
I am glad that your sun does not think that you taste good enough to eat.
Living with another person is a very odd thing. I do not know what I should say about it.
Sometimes she is next to me and she is warm and I feel her breathing, and that helps me breathe too. Sometimes she puts her arms around me and rests her head on my shoulder, and she blocks out the sun.
Other times she is too bright and her voice is too loud and her skin hurts me.
Do chairs have heartbeats? They used to be trees. I listened to one of the dining chairs for a while. It never made a sound. I think it’s dead.
There are no plants here for me to use to test your hypothesis about the trees and flowers eating the sun. There are only things that used to be plants.
Anyway, if I did have a plant I would have to go outside to do a proper test. That is not possible right now.
My doors stand guard against the sun.
My doors are always here, and they are always where they should be.
I know. I check on them.
If your doors come when things are going to go wrong, and my doors are always here, then perhaps things are always going to go wrong here.
I don’t mean that things are always going wrong. I am safe inside the walls. I mean that it’s possible that the apartment exists in a bubble of spacetime where things are always going to go wrong, but they never quite do, because I don’t open the doors.
Sarah opens them sometimes, though. But I always stay in the shadows when she does that, and the wrongness doesn’t reach me.
Maybe your sun eats the flies and birds and earthworms.
I saw a spider in the sink recently. I watched it for a while. It spun itself a little gossamer home. The strands of its web shone in the light that streamed through the windows. The spider seemed to be happy.
There are flies here sometimes. One got caught in the spider’s web. The spider paralyzed it, wrapped it up neatly, and then went off to sit in the sunlight for a bit.
Sarah saw the web then, so I did not get to see the spider vomit digestive juices on the fly and consume it.
Do you think that maybe my sun is a giant gas spider, and that it catches its prey in a web of photons?
What do the languages that you can’t read in your encyclopedia look like?
There are no secret corners here in the apartment. When there is dust, Sarah finds it and she vacuums it up.
I sit in the notsecret corners sometimes. I don’t have anything else to do. I listen to the clock ticking. I watch the dust motes fall through the sunbeams. I hope they enjoy it, since their future holds only the dark interior of a vacuum bag.
The walls keep me safe.
I do miss my work. Thank you for understanding.
Where were you before you came through the door to your house and its many gardens?
I miss my garden most of all.
The wallpaper here is a light green, like the inside of a hospital or a juvenile detention center.
Do you have a bed or a couch? I don’t imagine that sleeping on the floor would be comfortable.
I have both. I sit on the couch sometimes.
There is always someone watching me. Even when Sarah is at work or out buying groceries. There is a plaque on the wall with the face of the man who lived here before, and he watches me.
I don’t know if I agree with you that it’s better to have someone watching. You have the emptiness pressing down on you, but I have their eyes pressing down on me. Perhaps it’s impossible to escape pressure of some sort, and the question is which sort of pressure you can stand.
I am content locked inside my skull. What worries me is when the people who are watching you make you a container for the things that are locked inside their skulls.
The walls protect me.
I don’t know anything about cooking. Sarah does, though. Sarah is a very good cook.
I try to not be around when she opens the refrigerator door, just in case. Its light is not the same as the light of the sun, but I still feel it tasting me.
If you are what you eat, I taste like expertly crafted very flavorful and delicious concoctions of love and despair with hints of anger, garnished by a bright white loneliness.
If you tell me what ingredients you have available, I might be able to ask her for suggestions. She would probably like that.
I hear her knife scraping against the cutting board as she makes dinner. It’s too loud and too sharp and its edges hurt.
I can’t get away from the scraping. The apartment is small, and I can hear it everywhere. Even in the notsecret corners.
Should we assume that we are both real? Should I assume that Sarah is real?
I don’t suppose we could proceed otherwise, as you say. Even if we aren’t real we are where we are, and we have to deal with that. I still have to hear the scraping, whether it’s real or not.
She keeps scraping and scraping. I wonder what we are having for dinner.
She didn’t ask me what I wanted. She knows I won’t answer.
What would you want for dinner if you could have anything? I can’t decide if I would want parmesan parmesan or the shrivelled hearts of my enemies. I wonder if I brought home a shrivelled heart, would Sarah cook it for me?
This is why I don’t answer her. There’s only so much pressure from eyes watching me that I can stand.
Finally the scraping stops. Now she’s put whatever she was scraping in a pan. I hear it sizzling. The sizzling is not as sharp as the scraping.
Does the house where you are have electricity? What sort of appliances are there? This is important for figuring out what you can cook.
Obviously you saw my profile on the computer, but I have learned to never assume things. It’s possible that you have a laptop with a charged battery, but that the house itself is not receiving power. Especially if it is located in a crater and it has gardens that fade in and out of existence.
Do you think that the sun can be bottled up? I don’t know what your sun is, but my sun is a giant sphere of nuclear reactions with a circumference of 2.7 million miles and a surface temperature of 10,340 degrees.
One reason why Sarah likes cooking is that it helps her feel like she can control the fire. The burners on her stove are much smaller and cooler than the sun, but she can set them at whatever temperature she desires and turn them on and off at will.
Sometimes I wake up in the night, from dreams of the fire, and I feel like I’m still burning. She puts her arms around me, but she can’t always block it out.
She doesn’t like fire that she can’t control.
She turns the oven off. I hear her set a plate out on the counter. The smell tells me that we are having tacos tonight. I leave the notsecret corner.
She says, “Seth? Dinner’s ready.”
I hear her, like you say you hear me, and for now I will assume that she is real, and I will sit with her and I will eat her tacos.
After dinner the sun should have disappeared, and I can send you this letter.
I am safe inside the walls.