Sometimes I feel like the entire world is telling me the same thing. Shouting at me, leering at me, leaning close and murmuring in a confiding tone that, really my dear, you should consider that... It's everywhere, whatever it is, in all the books I pick up, in all the movies I see, in the television, the billboards, the jokes people tell, the maps on walls, the flocking birds, the freeways, my dreams.
I know this is because my mind is dwelling in one particular room. The world is not suddenly obeying the rules of fiction. Narrative is not its design.
A few nights ago, I dreamed I was in a show in a small theater tucked away on a dark street. Two friends were on the stage with me. We were dressed in ruffled collars, masks with fake noses, and curious hats. I couldn't decided whether we were Punch and Judys or Harlequin and Columbines. We performed sleight of hand under the glaring lights, except that our juggling balls and silk handkerchiefs kept vanishing out of our fingers, and our bowl of goldfish sprouted miniature wings. Nothing would go right because everything that happened was true. I wanted to cry, but I was afraid that the tears would collect under my mask and slip it off my face. Then I remember the end, when we put on white gloves and held each other's hands to take a bow. The audience was as black and empty as only very large theaters allow, and it made me clutch the hand I was holding so hard that the seams of our gloves indented my skin.
There is a man who has been coming to the bookstore who keeps asking me for books of perfect style and unremarkable substance. As long as the style is there, he says, it can have a story that's just ehhh, you know. The strangest part is that he doesn't say this like, I want to read a beautiful book, beauty above all. He says it like he actually does not want to read a good story. I am finding this request boring and perplexing.