“...You aren’t trying to trick me, are you?” Someone Else gives the man a judgmental squint.
"Oh no. No, I do apologize. I just--I don't know a lot of--" he rubs a hand over his forehead.
"How about this: what does a 'house' consist of? I really liked the way you explained what a 'ghost' was to me before. Could you do the same for me now? That way, we can better understand each other. What is a 'house'?" He offers them a reassuring smile.
"Oh ok. I can do that! Thank you for not lying to me."
They award the man a grin of their own before continuing.
"So. You have ground to stand on with all of your things. And a covering on top and all around to secure those things. A house is the place where a lot of people feel most comfortable, because they know they can depend on it always being there. For the most part, at least … Is that good?"
"That makes sense to me, yes. Thank you! But what would you say distinguishes a house from everything else? Because all I see is … blank."
"‘Blank’? I'm not sure what you mean."
"Everything is the same not-color. Empty. Except for you, I suppose."
"Can't you see the wooden tiles? They're brown!" Someone Else points a finger towards the white, barren ground.
"What? Why? Can't you see the paintings on the wall? They're orchids. Red, orange, and blue. I watercolored them during art class." Someone Else points to an empty space in the right.
“I don’t know what to say. What else would there be? I never left?”
“I don’t follow?”
"I never left the house today. I would notice if anything unusual was going on. Wouldn't I?" They gaze at him intently, half-expecting answers. But the man knows less than they do.
"I'm not sure. I'm sorry. I really am sorry. Were you the only one here? All this time?" He asks in a mellow tone, attempting to soothe their anxieties.
"I--wait, no. My parents! They were here too! How could I forget?!" At that, Someone Else sprints away into Nothingness.
“Wait! I'm not sure if you should--" But they're already well ahead, the blinding light leaving no trace of which direction they could have gone. "Oh no..." the man whispers to himself. "What am I going to do?"
"Old friend? Where were you all this time? You can't believe--unless you already saw. But wait! Can't you tell me where they went? Or can I just walk anywhere, like before? I'm afraid they might have gotten themself involved in something they don't quite understand."
"What? What do you mean they're gone? They were just here!"
“You figured something out? But we should--!”
“You can’t just … I don’t understand.”
But of course the man ‘wouldn't understand.’ Trudging around aimlessly, looking for direction from the outside? He's been doing this on purpose and it’s eating at himself.
"I’ve been … putting things off, yes. But isn't it enough? To be like this, for now?" The man picks a direction and starts running.
But it's never enough to stay in one place, isolated as he is. The man knows this.
“There’s no time--”
“You still haven’t answered my question! Where did they go? Why did they disappear?” He stops his trek for a moment to peer around.
He sprints again.
( ) is getting tired of this. Why does he care about smaller issues over more important ones? All it needs is for him to admit to his faults. To free both ( ) and himself from this state of perpetual uncertainty.
He can't take this any longer.
“I talked to them! Why wouldn’t I care?”
“They’re not … real? What? If anyone’s not ‘real’ it’s me.”
“I’m … a ‘ghost.’ I have a physical body, yes, but memories? I don’t have anything to ground me.” The man stares blankly at the endless void in front of him. “But they did.”
Again, ( ) finds itself not knowing what to say.
Someone Else was meant to be a reminder. Not their own person. And with memories too? How troublesome.
( ) and the man should be the only ones left, after all. Isn’t that what they both wanted … what?
What is it thinking?