(O R W A Y S T O G E T T O P L A C E S)
I am rolling the credits. The operator forgets to put on the next cassette. So I have to get behind the booth and press the button myself. Except for there are too many of them laid out on the control panel, in all sorts of shapes and colors, I get dizzy even by looking at them.
I don’t know where my fingers are. I try to feel my hands but my head doesn’t move and my arms have gone thinner. I want to start a prayer but I can’t open my hands and turn my head to the ceiling. What has dawned upon me is some sort of a paralysis, I blame it on the operator and on the abundance of buttons. I learn to wait there in words, walls absorb my silence.
I wait, days pass, months maybe even years. Because time stops in the midst of such fogginess. I let some bypassers spray me with their spit and punch me with noisy needles. There are these light beams appearing from corners and by merely trying to reach out to them, my arms and my hands start slowly growing in pairs.
Just by my eye movements, I follow flickering images, just by a small mental effort to reach and catch a light, my arms get from white to brown again, blood flows through what I now understand to be my hands, I see a pink pair of useful tool tentacles. Some nails are already painted and on the fingers my grandmother’s rings appear.
I brush my hands on my face, run them through my legs and grab the first pen. I write a little, then I write a little more. The operator comes back from his sleep, carrying a bunch of papers. Here, he says, these are for you. Though not for your tears, papers are hard on faces. I look him in the eyes, in them I see nothing really anything left to blame. Thank you, I say, and I forgive myself right then and there.
I take the papers from where he left them at, write a little more with half, and leave the rest for later. I fall tired, I ask the operator where I can find a bed, or where he found his, to rest on it like he did. This I need. We take turns. We take turns to sleep and to understand all of this.
He does point to a dim room, I assume indicating where the bed would be. And he puts one finger over his mouth, Ssshh is what comes out of it, and he disappears into a cosmic black dot. I try to remember which exact direction he pointed at, I eventually can’t and instead I draw a compass. I walk thirty days and thirty nights to reach the dim room, I see the bed, you never know who slept in it last. Maybe the operator, maybe his friend, or whoever else that might have needed a good rest. There is no one in the room. I feel the weight of my body but there’s no one in the room. I see my reflection in the mirror but there’s no one in the room.
I put myself on the bed, I set an alarm for the sake, and the rest, I don’t remember, only how it felt. It is unclear how I woke up. It doesn’t matter anymore, the why. I only know I left a big skin shaped sweat mark on the sheets, that’s the only way I know I have been asleep. Leaving a mark that will evaporate. Maybe only I will know it existed. And I know someday I’ll go back to sleeping again. We took turns after all, to understand all of it, everything.
My march back to the console room is shorter, it doesn’t take thirty days and thirty nights any longer. With my glowing skin and freshly grown tools, I start praying. Someone puts a cassette on the player, Absolute Clarity, it repeats. There are some other words but Absolute Clarity is what I pick up on. We chant altogether and there’s no one in the room. I turn to the operator to thank him, he is gone. I thank the mirror, I see no one. I open my hands and turn my head to the ceiling, I keep on singing, blood runs through all my veins and I call out my name, I call it my own name, I call it a day, I smile. I drink from the water. I know which, I push the button.