WHEN DID I FALL? – Jeremiah Benson

The world is much smaller than you think. I’ve been running into people who I’ve known my whole life at every corner of this world. I spent an entire year in a village with a name I still can’t pronounce only to find my second grade teacher bagging groceries and my second aunt in the obituary.

I’ve heard the world has 7 billion people yet no matter where I go I find people I know.

It feels as though no matter how large it gets the inevitable keeps folding on itself. With each side coming closer to each edge and the proximity of humanity getting tighter by the day. All smells at once pour into my lungs as a single gust tasting much like the color brown. Billions of people packed firmly against one another or maybe less than a billion, maybe no more than 1.

I remember that time I fell in the shower and in my mind I summoned myself right back into the monotony of life. I’d go for a walk as the sun reached its peak and I’d stare at the murky pond outside. The pond was filled with fish that had a language of their own, they gnawed at plastic jugs and strips of paper that floated downstream.

I saw behind me a strange face and when I turned around, it turned around as well. The backside of a headless mask that wept against the homes that hadn’t been housed in more than 10 years, long before I’ve been living there.

I fell apart once I woke up from that bathtub and saw how indiscernible these two worlds are yet still I find myself questioning if I ever woke up at all.

I followed my way into the buildings that stacked against each other, each window facing another. I walked down towards one eventually finding my way inside. The mask turned to be a poster left from long ago, against the mirrors that refracted light it appeared right against my sight only inversely so. I’d look into one room from across the terrace and see a chain of others that looked identically the same. The face on the wall told me there was an animal somewhere and I heard it yelp below the surface of where I stood – scratched asphalt that made my vision terribly blurry every time I looked down.

I woke up from that tub and kept striding on with my life and the faces of millions appeared to divide each by 5 and then 2 , until every human face had become as recognizable as the numbers 0 – 9.

The mask wasn’t recognizable, it also wasn’t a face. It was a plastered series of colors and lines against an equally blurry wall.

The sounds underneath reminded me of the yells from a mother. I put my ear against the cold ground and was told of a time way before I moved into this strangely shrinking world.

Against the rattling from outside and the thin streaks of moonlight, the long ride towards anything but the horizon.

What happened before my fall?

I think I was with my head against the ground trying to decipher some barely recognizable sound. It was an animal, a mother, I could tell by her soft screeches. I hadn’t owned an animal in a long time. I thought the fish in the pond to be my own although I never fed one and I only once cleared it of its trash, demoralized the next day when it refilled itself back to full.

I recall falling into a tub and hurting my head. I recall finding out my cat had died in distress. I recall falling into a town I barely knew and finding myself reliving every experience again like it were new.