Where Do I Stand?

Art by Kate Burgess

Writing by Sruthi Srinivas

One room is all I’ve ever known. I wake up, sleep, and eat in the same spot. It’s a small room, bare, with white white walls and white white floors. I clean the marble every day and night, one-two one-two, with a rag that disappears when I’m done with it. My reflection stares back at me – cold, unflinching. It’s the only thing that’s thoroughly my own in this room, but when I look at it, I see a face that’s unfamiliar. 

I don’t know how long it’s been. Could’ve been days, years, or simply hours. This room is a part of me now, and I’m merely an extension of it. There has never been anything to cause grief, pain, or discomfort in the Room. 

Until the chairs arrived. 

I don’t know where they came from. It’s a question I didn’t concern myself with – after all, where did this room come from? Where did I come from, really? I don’t know. Not knowing is something I had always been comfortable with. But now, with the chairs, with the furniture, desire started to bubble up in a cold shell. Dangerous, noxious fumes of hope, of wonder. 

There are now five chairs in this room. White white walls, white white floors, and five chairs. If I touch them, they may leave. If I touch them, if I perceive them more strongly than I allow myself to perceive my own reflection, they may, too, disappear. So I stand in the corner of this white white room. I clean the marble every day and night, one-two one-two, and I forgo the rag. I stare at the chairs for a couple of seconds, and I wonder if they stare back.