You wake up in a room.
The room is an almost entirely unremarkable room; its only remarkable feature is how thoroughly unremarkable it manages to be. The dirt-beige of the wall might remind you of a cheerfully clad and irritatingly shrill hardware store employee’s recommendation of “earth tones” and their supposed timelessness and economy. It is equally likely to remind you of the ancient tortured walls of a 16th century dungeon, anguish and despair having been caked into the stone slabs, creating an ambiguous and intuitively frightening hue. The point is that the colour of the room’s walls belie its purpose. It is equally likely to have been an inner city high school guidance counselor’s smallish office as it is to have been a recovery room for new mothers at the fancy new hospital uptown.
There are no doors in this room. You might have wondered why this was the case and asked, of no one in particular, how one can fill a room with no door and, more to the point, how you ended up in such a room. You might have, but you don’t. You don’t feel the desire to ask these questions because you don’t want to deal with the answers, in this meager and claustrophobic room. That is not to say that there is anything really unpleasant about the room. On the contrary, the lack of any door gives the room a cleaner line, a simple fluidity, perhaps even a minimalistic elegance.
Still, there is something depressing about this room. You cannot focus your mind on what exactly is causing it, but a stagnant restlessness permeates the space like the musty aroma of a middle-aged bachelor who has long ago given up all sanitary activity, having decisively asked the question “what for?” Others have definitely been in this room before and, you feel, they have observed it as listlessly as you observe it now. You look around at the furniture and notice nothing about it. A second glance produces the same result, so you decide that the furniture, like the walls, is probably generic, unimportant, just something to fill the space. It is not particularly sad furniture or happy furniture or despondent furniture or functional furniture or stylish furniture. It’s the kind of furniture one would find in a dead person’s home – faded paisley patterns and nicked wooden corners – or a prison break room – bolted down aluminum-framed couches and donated bookshelves.
You find yourself asking why, indeed, the space needs to be filled at all when the light, of which you can find no discernible source, flickers and dims. It is at this point that you notice there is a window in the far corner of the room, with a subtly different luminescence emanating from whatever is on the other side. Thoughts of leaving the room don’t even cross your mind. It’s not so much that there are bars or plate glass to prevent escape, it’s just that you feel a strange certainty that this is the only room. There are no other rooms, and even if there are, they are not for you. You feel no desire to leave, but wouldn’t mind glancing out the window, perhaps. As you stand up, the light reappears with a popping sound that could also have been the sound of yours knees creaking.
You saunter over to the window, which, you notice now, is not so much a window as a watermelon-sized (and similarly shaped) hole in the wall. You expect to see something, an object, a shadow of a face – something. Nothing materializes. Seconds or hours pass, and still nothing – just an ubiquitous darkness. You get tired of standing and sit down. You notice now that you are sitting in front of a desk with a piece of paper and a generic Bic-like pen on it. You’re not sure when or where from the desk and the piece of paper and pen appeared, but you accept them as part of the room just as surely as you are a part of the room.
You feel an overwhelming desire to fill the paper with words, pictures, scribbles, and colour the spaces with anger, elation, and this same desire itself, but nothing is happening in this room. Nothing has ever happened, nothing will ever happen, but you are here and that is something. You stare at the window, cross your eyes and smash the butt end of the pen into your temple – still nothing. Your nostrils flare as your anguish fills the air. Just then, images appear in the darkness in the window. Ghosts, faint outlines of lives, and wisps of conversation, all drift through the window. Pirates, nurses, and morbidly obese women reach out towards you pleadingly. You don’t want to concentrate too hard on these welcome intruders lest they disappear, leaving you alone again, so you start to scribble.
You write down everything they say. You draw every beard, eyelash, and nostril of every face that whispers hoarsely at you from the chasm in the window. You draw the rainbow of human emotion – rage, happiness, complacence, and passion. You have taken it upon yourself to record this room and all that occurs in the window therein on this piece of paper. It is important to record, you decide.
For whoever awakes bleary eyed again in this room, you must record.