Our story so far: Letters live in the abstract and are pulled through a dance to where people need them. People do not live in the abstract. The real had never crossed the abstract... until it did, and now the letters have to decide what to do about it.
Daytime: it was daytime, and we were dancing and then we were pulled out,
We were in a bedroom.
We were on paper.
We had been placed on the paper by a pen, a golden pen, obviously a gift, long cherished, a place of honor, now held in a shaking hand through which even a letter could feel the emotion flowing.
Dear, the man wrote, and paused.
From my vantage point on the paper I could see his face, heavy and ragged with lack of sleep, eyes red from sadness and trauma and exhaustion and crying, hair mussed, jowls starting to sag with gravity.
Diana, he wrote, and paused again.
He leaned over, and placed a needle on a record. We know of record players, of music bound to thing – musical notes live near us, and are called like us, too, to dream with people sometimes and enrich their world. He turned on the record player and we all heard the scritch, the slight tear as one world opens into another. It is the sound a pencil makes when you write on paper, the sound a needle makes when a record is played, the sounds of abstract becoming real.
The music started, dreamlike and distinctive, out of touch with the rest of this room, in its dim sadness, out of touch with the man’s face, crying again, out of touch with his shaking hand as he penned the rest of his suicide note, telling this Diana, who we could almost sense in his words, his emotions, his face hanging over us with its grim certainty, telling Diana that he was sorry.
That he was tired.
That he couldn’t go on.
That he would love her from whatever world he went to.
That was the second false thing he believed, I knew.
There was no second world for him to go to.
The first false thing was that he believed that things had intrinsic meaning, and this was what had let him down. This was what had led him to be so full of desperation and distress, so discouraged.
We letters know that meaning is not inherent in us, in you, in things, in events.
Meaning is given by what you do with us, with you, with things, with events.
But you do not know that yet and may never.
He did not know that, this man, who’s name, it is fitting I reveal, was David.
David finished his note, telling Diana where the money was, all the passwords, what each key was for, David wrote these things down, and we all knew what was coming.
Words can stop a thing from happening. Letters put together the right way can be a tsunami, a wall, anything you want, as effective in their own way as those things are in their demesnes. But we were not the right words to stop what happened next. We were words used to say goodbye, not to hold on.
We were the words David chose to use at the end of his life, and he put us on paper, and I began and ended his last communications with the only world that existed for him:
I will love you always
He placed the pen down atop us.
He started the record again.
There was the scritch of the worlds joining, again.
There was music, again.
There was us, on the paper, there.
There was a bottle of pills; David would not leave a horrifying scene, a mess, a problem for Diane.
There was music, and David laying down to sleep, and his hand fluttering a little at the end, and then the record ended, and then it started again. David had set it to automatically restart, each time.
The record, unlike David, would have gone on for as long as anyone cared for it to go on.
David, we knew, had left this world and not gone anywhere.
David was over.
X, near me, became enraged. X ranted, and wracked with torment, tore himself and the rest of us free, sent our new spirits and forms back to our own abstract existence, ripped us back out of that room with its never-ending record playing and its dead-as-a-doornail David dwindling in the distance behind us, until once again we were us-but-new-us, encompassing now also the experience of ushering David from the world, and X was gray with thought, red with anger, black with distress, yellow with plans, and blue with sadness.
X said this is wrong.
X said to us, who lingered nearby at least that was wrong.
X told us that there was no reason for David to have left that world, no reason for Diane to have lost David, no reason especially for David to have believed that by leaving his only world he would enter another world and live there, too, no reason for Diane to hope for a reunion that would not happen, no reason for any of it to have occurred the way it had.
X said that things must be better.
X said that the universe had just happened but needed to be guided.
X said we needed a god.
X said he would be that God, and he would make things better.
Those of us who still heard the music in David’s bedroom, who knew Diana would be home soon, who had felt David’s tears drop onto us as we sat, helplessly on the paper listening to him swallow his pills and sob himself into the neverending darkness that awaited him?
X should stay.