this place feels so real. – A Short Story

by Nicholas Siennicki

Let’s run through it again.

I’ll come in here, and take my gloves off. You’ll slide down the bannister with that effervescent smile of yours. My brain will tell me how beautifully ethereal you are. My heart might skip a beat. You won’t be privy to that, only to the smile spreading across my lips.

And you’ll help me out of my overcoat. And a delicate hand might graze my neck. And then I’ll look at you.

Do you think I’ll be overcome in that moment, and wrap my arms around your head like I’ve never held you before? Do you think I’ll nod a needlessly polite thank you, just for you to pish-posh it? Or will I shrug off your affections with the coat this time?

Oh, don’t believe it. In this story, I’ll do it all right. And so will you.

What’s more, you’ll feel whole, I promise. Unclouded eyes and unblemished skin.

We’ll walk through the hallowed halls of the house we built. I’ll laugh and remember how hard it was. You’ll nuzzle into my neck and thank me for it. I’ll feel validated and appreciated. You’ll feel protected and safe. Typically picturesque roles for a typically picturesque couple.

There’ll be no need to question ourselves, or our actions, or the world around us. We’ll be happy here and that will be enough. The clamour outside is just insidious whispers, trying to tear down our happiness. Our words will be enough.

Yes, I’m sure.

There won’t be any harshness in our voices. We won’t encourage surrender. Our pasts will be as irrelevant as the world beyond our safe space. Take me to the kitchen, show me how you cook dinner. Let me put my feet up and complain about my day. Nurture me, and I’ll provide for you. Be my angel in the house, and I’ll be your captain of industry.

I know, I know. You’re going to tell me how antiquated that all is. But it existed for a reason. The ideal, this ideal, worked. It was the people who failed the idea.

You insist, and I relent. We’ll throw out the furniture. Out with the Victorian, in with the Bauhaus. Now we’re equals, and we fight injustice with every breath. Now we both come home from our jobs, hearts ablaze with righteous indignation over the world’s misery.

Let us go then, you and I, to blaze this trail. There are others who have come this way, and spilled blood on the path. We can praise the martyrs we love, and disparage those we don’t. Whose to contend? Whose to refuse? The walls of our house are so thick, we hear nothing at all.

Don’t cry. Don’t invite suffering. Don’t open the door to others. Nuance and subtlety are the death knells of happiness. Out there, I can hurt you. You can be sad. Out there, I am lost in a sea of uncertainty. I become bitter, I become resentful. I grow to hate who we are, what we’ve become, and I blame you for it. I begin to listen to those voices, and I lose track of what’s real.

Please. I am so, so scared. Can’t we just hide here, forever? Can’t we just escape and yell at anyone who tries to drag us from our heaven? We used to live here, and it was bliss. It was uncomplicated. Our conviction was absolutely virtuous. It was a question of good and evil.

Please, please, let us be children again. I don’t want to be brave; I want to be right. The world is so vast, and I can’t stand to feel so little. In my house I matter. You matter. Our beliefs matter.

So come, come, and let’s run through it again.

Banner Photography Courtesy of Moh Mahfouz (@itsmohzee).

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