He set out the knife, the room felt aligned, and the passing light outside cast into hollow relief the contents of the room, the made bed, water in glass, he picked up the glass and watched the water lose its last silver beam, the light was gone again, he held the glass up to his eyes and knew that it held memory, like his.
The bottom edge of the large glass window, the entire southern wall, a nearly perfect seal and line, broken with bushes of dust, he caught himself, nebulae, all the stars were hidden behind the rest of the city and what it poured out, and he felt that this was true for all that was behind him.
The knife displayed a soft melting cut of light, low watts, held on the metal, in the kitchen. Other contents of all other drawers put up.
Reported squalor, this too was a lie. He cleaned up, soon after he walked in, placing every object in a place that seemed just moved from where it had been before. The cast of light from the surrounding buildings set his hands in every known yellow, he looked down at the letter, it became all white.
The pen was in the drawer where the knife had been, every surface bare, the inside of the southern wall was still wet, but clear, set out in plain terms, how this had accumulated. The same mass in his throat, the presence in his neck, the letter shown to be seen immediately, the knife could let all that weight out.
He eventually stilled.
Near the southern wall and angled open into the rest of the interior, holding half the kitchen at this distance, the mirror. He straightened his chest in parallel, looked first at himself, quickly to the rest of the thing, the surface, as the light passed again and filled the room. His face removed from the mirror momentarily. He looked down, his right hand trembling. He first felt movement, then saw age. His skin presented a vibrating surface just above another. This, too, was sick. The elongated first stroke of the K, the grain of the marble that he then noticed, just then.
The edges of the water creeping up the glass, the remnants of that motion, him setting it down, the parable of the apple, the paradox. He saw it all cleanly as a great glass cube, its sides extending out and away from him, but only too late, always, would he see them as slightly sloped. The growing cube, until it, he looked up and held his eyes open. One tear. He tried to hold his breath. Smoke. The entire gray and white room full of dense, squalid smoke. He picked up the knife, the stung draw, accidental, setting it down and straightening its flat edge to be parallel with the long side of the letter before holding his left palm over wherever felt impossibly taut. His omitted gushing palm. Just a nick. Contaminated. He couldn’t remember, so he took his hand away from his neck again and looked, little spots.
What happened to the first time.
What was just celebrated, what you helped me celebrate so well darling, is now, he couldn’t find the pen, he went to the original drawer. The knife was just as clean. He felt the room in its original state. A registered blank pause, putting the tip of the pen on top of, into the final period. Pushing, then more pressure. His shoes, in the mirror.
He dropped the pen and saw himself lift his right hand as a fist and pull it back, then what, fuzz. He stopped. His breathing now sounding, in, out, in, what had he seen. More breathing. Inspecting the surface of the mirror, the glass. The clean glass, what was that, or a passing light. Through the southern wall, a small rise, the slowly circling machine. Nearing its far spot along the constrained orbit. Clockwise, his eyes reaching a sharp spot, above or in his forehead. There, a speck. None. He blinked. The weight moved into the outer walls of his throat, filled with liquid. The fuzz.
Couldn’t wait, the orbiting machine, the recently dead clock. The batteries in the drawer under the knife. Separated by a mechanically treated and smoothed palate of granite. He turned away from the mirror but didn’t walk. The blood congealing, dry at the southernmost edge. Closest to the wall of window. He faced the mirror.
The room, the sharp edge of the blade just a fresh birthed dimension, the edge of the paper belonging there, in its place, the same. The paradox. On paper, where he first saw it named a boon. A cast of gods, holding outside the southernmost window, to live in other worlds. He knew the succession of events would fail early, that is when the answer became a possibility, when he died. He didn’t write that on the paper, in the letter. His wife an invitation to keep being eaten. He felt its presence everywhere, in every surface. He felt it in his hair, his nicked neck. His eyes, letting them blur out and become concurrent with his peripheral vision, acuity faded, prayer no longer a joke, prayer quickly still a joke, asking himself out loud for luck enough to keep that vision. All dumb.
The fuzz in the image. This mirror. Light washed in.
He breathed in through his mouth. He had vibrated, blurred. What he’d seen. Doubted what the depth of the anomaly was. Knew again depth was felled with the conception. Immediately the pain, irony expanded. Again, saying out loud, here you doubt the depth of this, cursing omitted. He relied on her.
Considering his blood flow, the movement in which he saw the discrepancy in the mirror, holding his body in the reflected path, just prior. Adrenaline present, but not applicable to the force with which his outline shook. The frame of the mirror chipped, just left, south, of the top right corner. Real wood, though not black, paint somewhere. He could wet his finger and then dot the floor until the black spot stuck. He saw the great glass cube.
This was the mirror. He felt their cool surface dampen the bottom of his palms. Not perfectly clean, then, other than the blood remaindered in the kitchen, somewhere, the black dot, the collections, sparse though, of dust. Prolong and clean. Prolong and clean. Shaking the loop out, not letting himself repeat, himself. He sighed. He felt long. His eyes, straight and then vaguely tugged in his peripheral sight. He shook the mirror. It displayed regularly. Or what he knew to be regular.
Inclined, falling face forward, the great glass plain rushing toward him, endless murk. The mirror did shake, maybe from the passing machine in its regular loop, or from another tenet, from a high, particular glance of wind, up this high, high enough for a fall to become contemplative, where is terror anymore, which is why the knife, it could have been wind. A neighbor. Someone’s bath. The scores of buried pipes, huge fiber optic cables carrying light, someone’s something could’ve burst. The glass held itself right and perfectly smooth, his hair was graying above the right temple, which had come too with the onset of the answer and what, this, what it lead to, he wrote doom. Somewhere. On his knees now, had been, he also forgot how long, knees becoming basins of painful information, blood packed around white plates. The imagined amputation. He saw his face.
A little difficulty walking back to the kitchen counter, not looking back, now, inevitably he felt, he’d sense more than the mirror moving, seemingly shaking or fuzzing his image on its own, but now he heard it shake violently enough to capture, the whole mirror and its wooden frame, thrown forward, glass rushing toward the ground, shattered. None of this, of course, no, the handle of the knife pointing slightly to the bottom right corner of the paper, the signature. Omitted cursive, spelled it all out plainly.
This, too, as his neck felt flaky, recourse. The city appeared great, spiking upward in dark shoots, a solid glance of yellow ember, quiet nights, passing light, all became flush, he felt for a moment the complete lack of surfaces, instead one unified grain, peculiar, the nighted city a high silent host.
The southern window in a gel, he struggled against this, this time. Finally. The knife appeared familiar and old. The paper caught one of the tears, the water moved out on all sides in small perimeter, branched, that we could never predict, that this, he cried, was not a problem anymore.
He put the flat of the blade against his neck, lower than the dried cut and closer to his shoulder. Cold wasn’t a temperature here. He saw ahead all the depth spilling out of him, rightly abandoned.
His arm blurring, moved to his head and whole body, the knife clattered, his body losing its relief against the kitchen, the light behind him, edges lost. He felt. The image. Seeing such a blur. Knew, a second before, about the light. All was white. He felt it go, staying open, not blinking, the mirror displayed perfectly. What had he seen. At the top edge of sight, he breathed.
The death, he hadn’t written it down, the answer, the mirror and maybe the orbiting placeholder machine outside. Watching him. The shatterproof window. Now, briefly entertaining that he had written it down, that it could, would, be found, without disturbing her. Hurting her. Felt a projection of this, a model scene, sitting down for the first time with a tablet and endlessly repeating the command to make himself represent it, what it stood for, stood as, its own monolith now and no one could understand, no one else alive could be in the same state, know the same, so much prior work. The very old myth. Pandora’s Box.
An idea alive.
Smash the mirror, let it present itself as all sorts of opportunity, varied shards, the clean tool, the letter. He felt right. He grew. Top of the mirror and pulled. It boomed, face down, containing most of the break. The cardboard brown back. Bits were smaller than he’d guess. Largest piece of glass in the room, other than the southern, knife as the letter fluttered off the table behind him. He tipped, and pulled the sharp end toward him, splitting the backing neatly, surgery. Thinner than he’d expect, and paper. Nothing immediate. The new slit, barely lit, flushed out just then, still in the light a weird pull to cut his throat then, just then, nothing more in the immediate space, dark gray and matte rear of the mirror. All flat. Slit puckering out, another clean line. Only now could he draw straight. Old tools.
Tore the paper off, ripping in sections, stubborn faults that kept leading to smaller sections still stapled to the back of the frame. Near the corner, tip of his right shoe, about the same color as that black, a small dot. Perfect circle. It’s it. Smaller than a button on a shirt. He slowly lowered the tip of the knife onto it, a clink, another metal. Raised. Scanned, presumably, or just signaling whether it worked or not. But why the distortion.
He raised, glass swept out in an arc, scattering patches with each swipe, the grains of glass through his shoe, heightened now he felt. Identification, live readers. Couldn’t walk back out of the building, the city, all the rest.
The knife, now a farce. What they’d do to take him alive. Doing.
Flat, no return, clicked again and the ink ran smooth, crossed out goodbye he thought as he flipped the paper, put the ball to the top left corner. Begin at the glass. Sick, rolling, he bent over more severely to squelch it, whatever this was. Stopped smelling the disinfected marble, drying his mouth even further. Slowly. The mirror, it’s fragments, in repose. Rest.
Had it slowed down or gone away, no. Past its furthest point, curving towards. All dark. Swallowed. How do you ever pose the question anymore. Presenting it visually, in the first meeting. That was the chief difficulty, presenting it.
He drew out, a straight line right, west. Orientation. The line became braced by another, short, down, sharp, out, stairs. Stairs leading upper left to bottom right. Descending. Through time, not only the local pattern of time, left to right. The city, again, united as the room went white, paper blank. He laughed. Laughing, bright.
The light was gone.
Two sticks. The words mushed, just underneath, murky. Cubed. It all fit within the glass.