THE WALLED IN ONES
Of course, I set the manuscript aside to age a bit. I meant to come back to it about half a year later, but three or four went by, I’m not sure exactly how many. When I read through it again, I was very puzzled. I couldn’t remember writing those sorts of things at all. It was like I was reading them for the first time, like they had been written by someone else, not me. In fact, I really began to wonder whether someone who knew where I kept my manuscripts hadn’t switched it on me to make me think I was going crazy. I read through it quickly, in one fell swoop – it wasn’t hard, the manuscript was short, much shorter than the vague recollections I had of the original. I had wanted to write a novel. A big novel. And this was a book of poetry. Who had written it? What were these poems? They seemed so ugly, impenetrable, and I didn’t like the titles besides. I was very confused and tossed the book aside. After that everything went blank. There was a long period during which I can’t remember what my relationship with it was. It’s from that point on that we can talk about an obsession. At a certain point I simply realized that I was constantly rereading the book, that I already knew it by heart, that I always carried it with me, that I had rumpled the pages from thumbing through it, I had scribbled notes on some of them, none of which I could read, nor could I remember scribbling them down in the first place. Then the various poems started fighting to get the upper hand. I’d like one for a few months and it would constantly be going through my head, popping out at the most unexpected and inappropriate moments, like when I was having an important conversation, for example. People started growing concerned about my health and avoiding me, but I didn’t care about anything but the poems. While with every rereading they got even more difficult, more impenetrable, more distant. Then someone told me – I can’t remember who – that I was sick. That I’d become ill. I can’t say when or how. Had the poems made me sick or had I written them as a result of the sickness? Had I even written those poems at all, or had they written me, edited me, and shaped me however they saw fit? I’ve got to run away, to forget them. I’ve forgotten their content, yet their form lives on inside me.
I haven’t seen my reflection since I’ve started living in this house. I’ve covered the mirrors with black cloth, so they don’t surprise me when I’m at my weakest and most vulnerable. I’m sure they don’t want to see me either, they’re powerless to reflect me and that breaks them and shatters them to pieces. The whispering. The footsteps. The walled in ones. In this house, the veil between the worlds has worn very thin, too thin. I’ve noticed that in this place things happen according to their own rules, with a different sort of logic. People’s thoughts seem to be the real reasons for the things that happen. For a long time before my parents disappeared, I thought about that incessantly. I imagined having the house all to myself. I constantly imagined living in it all by myself, with all the rooms at my disposal, all the corners being mine alone. And then they disappeared. Isadora Graf’s daughter also died a few years ago. She fell asleep in the yard with her mouth open and a snake slipped into her. There are no snakes in this area, however. It was one of the snakes I’d read about in a book as a child, and which have constantly appeared in my nightmares ever since. I’m sure I brought it about, that I made it appear. I dreamed about it every night for the whole week before that. But I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want anyone to die or disappear. I can’t control my thoughts, now can I? I can’t tell myself what to think. It seems like someone has written everything somewhere in advance and it simply runs through my mind, such that I can’t escape it, I just have to let it pass through. I dreamed about you, too. Long before you arrived. I know everything about you. From the moment when you first thought that you wanted to leave the city and move to a house in the country, it was like there was something connecting us and every night in my dreams I would watch your life as if on film. Yes, indeed, I was expecting you. I knew your arrival was only a matter of time. In fact, I knew exactly when you would come. I also knew why you had come. I only pretend not to understand. Everything is very clear to me. I dreamed that my body was a glass vial filled with poison that broke and I spilled out onto the floor.
It’s monstrous and twisted to reflect everything, without being able to be seen by anything. What a terrible fate – they can’t fall in love with you, but only in their own image. But perhaps every falling in love is like that, actually – looking for your own reflection in the other, the desire to love yourself within someone else. They told me that a human face that had never experience love – so ugly and expressionless – once stood before a mirror, and that the mirror shattered into thousands of pieces in horror. In this house, however, they cover the mirrors with black cloth, so they can’t surprise them when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable. They want to hide, so they veil us, so we can’t see what they do at night. During the day they take off the black cloth and the rays of sunlight stroke the smooth surface of the glass. Layers of dust, the prints of fingers that have traced out names, clouds of perfume, lipstick stains from lips that have kissed the glass – all that has piled up on my face. Thus if someone were to look now, he would definitely exist not only in the moment in which he was looking, but also in all the previous moment when someone had looked before him. Once a woman kissed my smooth glass. She wanted to kiss her own reflection. People are so foolish – they don’t understand that a kiss is impossible – there’s always a barrier keeping you from reaching the other. You’re always kissing something cold and lifeless. I’m telling you, the world is getting more and more twisted – everything is getting turned upside down, on its head. Objects are coming to life, starting to think, to speak, to move, while people are becoming more and more like objects – immobile, silent, frozen with their eyes wide open. Just as everything is reversed in my reflecting, changing its direction, the world is likewise reversing its coordinates, such that it is no longer clear what is real and what is reflection, what is human and what is object, what is natural and what is artificial. And that pair in the house – they are like a body and a reflection, between which there is no mirror.
Right from the start, I knew everything, foresaw everything, presaged everything. No one ever comes here, so when someone was finally ready to visit me, I could sense it for days, weeks in advance, I could sense him thinking about me and about it, as if the house and I had become one. I could sense him making plans, talking, I felt what was going through his head, where he was going, what he ate, I knew everything somehow. So when he finally showed up at my home, I wasn’t surprised. I heard his heavy footsteps as soon as he reached the threshold, then I heard the others fussing about, their hushed voices, they think I can’t hear them, but I catch even the tiniest flutter of their eyelids. When he started going up the stairs, his footsteps were already grating on my brain – heavy, clear and distinct on the stone. The key clicked in the lock as if turning in my head. He stood on the threshold of the cracked-open door, I sensed his presence for a long time, but I didn’t move. There’s something else. Another room, another door. I suddenly whirl around and look at him. The scissors which he’s clutching in his hands and which flashes like a mirror in the darkness of the room, trembles and for an instant I see my anxious face in it, split in two.
I was in the car, the rain was drumming down on the roof, turning the muddy road into a river. I was looking out the window and the whole world looked washed away and blurred like in a dream. I thought I caught a glimpse of her even then, running barefoot up the stone steps in her tattered white dress and hiding behind the huge gate. She looked like an apparition. I thought I’d imagined her. But after I paid the driver and started climbing the stone steps, even before I got to the door, I could sense her invisible presence. Or someone else’s. I don’t know. I only knew that something was awaiting my arrival at that house. And it was watching me.