We start, quite reasonably, at the beginning. A figure stands and stares at a huge projection of some people laughing and talking. They are having a wonderful time, and certainly are fulfilled in their lives. They are those infinitely puzzling people who when pressed into answering the question “Are you happy with your life?” (Usually by me, I’m ashamed to admit) answer quickly and honestly, as if the question had never even occurred to them before now but they know the answer instinctively.

The video of them on the wall clicks as it loops again, and the watcher studies their eyes (which smile like there’s a real person behind them) and their lips (which part enticingly and easily, as if made of greased marzipan). It’s marvellous, the watcher thinks, how lifelike these people are. No one could be this life-like, surely? Especially not in real life where people are poorly-fitted flesh suits over ever-dimming balls of light.

“(X)?” One of them calls. The watcher sees their own hand enter the video. “What did you do over break?” The same one says in a light bell. The watcher feels their mouth open “I went to the store in the city and bought a product.” they hears themselves say. “I prefer alternate product” asserts (X)’s friend who is manly. This is all this beautiful bear of a creature seems to do, and (X) prefers when it does not speak. “I purchased several products of varying degrees of practicality,” Bragged (X)’s acquaintance who is fancy, “And then I burnt one immediately! It burned brightly and beautifully and then was extinguished by YOU, You RASCAL!” Fancy Acquaintance shoved The Bear playfully “He’s trying to make me quit but I assert that I have an addictive personality, a real thing which excuses my actions.” (X) watches her lips move and interact with her eyes as she says these things, and mimics with their own face a pattern of signals. “Oh (X) you’re such a hilarious person I enjoy being around! The way you are is charmingly different!” She said loudly. (X) watches her say this and can’t help but feel she is lying. (X) is here, (X) only wants to leave. All (X) wants in the world is to be somewhere (X) is not, so that it would be quiet and kind.

(X) picked at the skin on their arm. It certainly seemed solid, or, more accurately, physical. But it didn’t look right. This was the problem they had been having lately, things feel right but look muffled. As if seen though glass. I have been trying to help them with this, as they recount these stories and incidences, I stand right behind them and tell them that they are going crazy, to simply become reasonable, and that nothing they are saying is making sense. I really am doing my best, but (X) is simply unreasonable. You cannot reason with an unreasonable person. When they throw objects at the wall to see if gravity will notice, I tell them that that is insane, of course gravity will notice gravity has a very high refresh rate here. (X) does not like me, but I refuse to leave. (X) is disordered and bad, and I will help. (X) sits and watches as I talk to their friends for them, a task they are too incapable to do alone. “The season finale of television program sure left me unsatisfied and distraught!” I laugh. “I disagree with the direction director is taking it.” Two of the people agree inanely but the third one asks a pointless question about class. I, of course, know the answer and show off “We meet in the correct building when class happens. Then we meet in the second room and sit quietly waiting to be released to home where we all sit quietly separately.” Everyone nods as I am the Sage of our group. I need this to live, this validation. I know I am not real, just a shell (X) made to survive things like this, but things like this proof in the faces of the people who know us, who know me, reënforces my belief that I exist. One day, I may believe it fully and supplant (X) as the primary one.

(X) looks at the spaces between the eyeball and the lid in their closest friend. This relationship is not reciprocated, but this friends closest friend is not present. (X) imagines how large the human eyeball would have to be to fit comfortably inside a skull, allowing for brains and the other eyeball. They consider and instantly regret imagining the force and relative ease with which an eyeball could be removed. This is all they can imagine now. (X) sees, instead of their friends laughing and talking calmly, and image of the third friend’s eyeball being carefully removed by a variety of objects, settling on a melon baller. It plays over and over, looping smoothly unlike the movie of their friends. This is real, this is what you are seeing, (X), you will always be seeing this.


I hear them thinking this and am disturbed. Fuck that little shit now I have to focus on what these people are saying over the sound of that disturbing thought! It won’t stop! The Bear is bragging, I think. I wish desperately I could shut that smug shit up. Should I reveal to his girlfriend that he’s gay? No, they distract each other. Besides, she may already know. I need to stop imagining (X)’s best friend’s eyeball being removed. “Casual political comment aligning with the views of the audience,” I say smoothly smiling correctly as I pull a small notebook from my pocket. “Harmless agreement, say what are you writing?” Asks the Fancy Acquaintance. “I have a terrible memory,” I lie “and if I don’t write things down they slip away!” I carefully detail how I would remove my friends eye, which one I would remove first, my guess on force and pressure, and a small assortment of tools but even now the image is fading. I try and keep it clear, so my note doesn’t look disorganized and incomplete, but it slips away. (X) is crying softly. (X) is such a burden. I wish I could kill them.

I have tried in the past, but because we live off each other I can’t hurt them without hurting myself. Sometimes I can bear it, but it’s never really worth it. As I walk home we come to a bridge and I am tempted to toss his body off. I see my frail form lifting off the ground and hurtling away, only to be lifted toward the sky and falling away into the overcast grey. But (X) remains, watching me fall, finally free. This is one thing we agree on. For one of us to be real the other has to leave, and for one of us to leave we both must die, and in death be reborn.

Jacob EarlComment