a tiny mystery

The arrangement of letters was such that no one recognized the word.

I thought I’d forgotten how to read, someone said with a nervous laugh.

(Gloved fingers flew across the keys in a blur. There were no fingerprints.)

There did seem to be an air of menace about it all, said someone else.

(The word ‘arcane’ slithered into the conversation, if you could call it that. A conversation, that is. It more resembled a series of monologues delivered in close proximity to each other.)

We decided to talk around the word, if that makes sense, ventured another.

It may not even have been a word, muttered the first.

Well, it made me sick. Who would do such a thing after all, a new voice chimed in.

And then it came out that the authorities had withheld information, that there had been other…words, said the second.

(A dictionary had been consulted. But it was like no dictionary anyone had seen before.)

I never understood why they didn’t check the libraries, grumbled the third. Absurd it was, how long it went on.

When it was all over I still felt sick, said the fourth. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t do the daily crossword. I stayed in bed with the blinds drawn for days. It felt very real to me.

Please understand, though. We’re relieved that you’re writing about it now, the first said. Even though we know it’s impossible to put into words what actually happened.

Yes, it means so much. Thank you, whispered the second.

(At home the recorder spat out foreign sounds. This is typed from broken memory—certain details have inevitably been lost.)

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  1. That is fucking brilliant. Therapy and all its part truths and part coercian turned into literature.



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