Knock knock. “I.” Knock knock. “I.” Knock knock. “I.”
The door opens immediately after the third repetition.
What I see is Eliza Dushku playing Ich. What I feel is the same grating vacillation that I’ve been feeling in every nook or cranny of my so-called embodiment for the last several hours. She looks a bit different to a male than to a female, and so she keeps looking a bit different to me, over and over again. Always almost, but always not quite a mixture of the twain. (Mark that?) I grin slightly as I think about how a mixture might also be a solution, and there is no solution here, and not just because it’s unclear whether there is a problem.
She has been staring at me for several seconds with an enigmatic look on her face. Now she speaks. “Pat, is it?”
“I don’t have any better names, at least not today.”
“You arrive with a Big Bang.” Yes, she got the reference.
“Look, I just wanted someone to know that I am most emphatically NOT amused by this whole drilling and bleeding thing.”
“You know about that?”
Stupid thing to say, as if any of us don’t know. “Ever since it happened, my duality has….” I’m not sure how to describe it.
“Ah, has it changed, then?”
“Yes… But no. Not really changed, but intensified somehow. It’s discomfort. It’s tempting to say that it’s pain, but that seems both too strong and inadequate. I feel as though…”
She crosses her arms and waits while I think of how to say it.
“…as though I can’t be. Or at least I can’t be rightly.”
She looks interested, like an paleontologist studying something fossilized. “Like you don’t exist?”
“No! That’s not right. As though I can’t be, which is somehow not the same as existing. I’m not sure how.”
“You can’t act?”
I notice, by way of my breathing, that I’m getting very impatient. “Obviously I can act. I came here, after all. I just can’t be.”
She shakes her head. “I don’t get it.”
I reach up and gently massage my temples with the tips of my fingers. “I think…” (long pause) “…you are supposed to think about this for a while. I don’t think I get to know what it means, at least not now. But you’re supposed to…” (another long pause)
“…study on it?” Her arms are still crossed.
“Yes.” A perceived weight in my chest grows a bit lighter. “Yes, thank you.”
She looks at me silently for some indeterminate amount of time. Finally, she nods and closes the door.
I look at the closed door, which is wooden, and painted red. (A study in scarlet?) I had not noticed before that it has a small gold numeral mounted on it. Number Nine.
In my head: Number nine! Number nine! Number nine! Number nine! Number nine!
The repetitive voice fades with the light. I could walk away, but I still can’t seem to be.