It’s there. But I can only see it after looking at it for a long time. But it’s definitely there. It’s a sort of reddish or burgundy color. And only after looking at it for a very long time and, like, letting my eyes un-focus I can see it so it’s there. It really is there, though. But it takes such a long time for me to see it that even if it’s really there I question its being there in the first place. Because, I think, is it really there or is it there because it’s taking so long to see it or to look for it I mean. Like a trick of the eyes. But after looking at it for such a long enough time I was sure it was there, so I touched it. Or I reached out to touch it then hesitated. What if, even after looking at it for such a long time and being convinced it was there, it wasn’t really there at all? So I pulled back a bit, again uncertain really if it was even there at all. But after a while I had to touch it whether it was there or not, because there was really nothing else at all to do in the room. So I touched it and it was definitely there. At first I could hardly feel it because it was so soft. But then I did again and could feel that it was really there, so I scraped away at it a little bit. But it was still there, like nothing had even happened. The more I looked at it there, the more I could see it was all reddish, or burgundy colored. Inside it I mean, because there was a lot of red around the outside of the sore. But no matter where it was or how it was inside once you saw it, there was definitely a sort of reddish or burgundy color, like wine perhaps. But it was certainly there and you could see it all after looking there long enough. It was like a string or a fiber. So I sort of said, it’s like a sort of fiber there, in the middle of it, inside. Because I was certain after looking at it there for so long that it was a sort of reddish or burgundy fiber inside of it all. So after doing so, I said, there’s a kind of fiber in there, like reddish or burgundy. They all looked for a long time and one said after looking at it for an even longer time than myself, it isn’t really there at all though. And after saying this, he crossed his arms and leaned back, if you can believe it, like it wasn’t even there at all. I was greatly upset, because it really was there. I knew it was. Anybody could see it was really there once they’d had a proper look at it. So I said, but maybe you need to look at it a long time, even longer. And they said, no. I looked at it for a long time and it isn’t really there at all. I can see and there’s nothing inside it at all. But what about you, I asked another who’d been standing behind in silence. And he said, well, not really no. No what? I asked. It isn’t really even there, he said. But it is there, I replied, you can see it inside there. Look, it’s right there, I said, a sort of reddish or burgundy. But no, he said, I don’t think it’s really there at all. So, for everyone else but me it was like it wasn’t even really there at all. Even if they looked at it for a long time. Even though they looked for as long as I did and even longer. When they touched it, it was like nothing had even happened at all, like it wasn’t even there. I tried to convince them that if they’d only look a little longer they’d see that it really was there, some sort of reddish or burgundy fiber, poking out just a little from inside the sore. I held it up into the light, thrust it toward them, pleading. But each one simply shook their head, saying, almost to themselves more than me as they filed out one by one, we just don’t see it, it isn’t really there at all.
They have given me a set of tweezers, so convinced they are of the lack of there being anything there that they left them right in front of us. We pick them up off the bed, then, fumbling, place them between our fingers and sort of dig inside of it a bit, to find the fibers or whatever’s there. We can see it, a sort of reddish or burgundy that’s right inside, in the middle of it. On the outside it’s still red and sort of flaky, not fully-healed. Sort of red and dry and flaky, making it sort of tender there on the border of the scab or sore or what have you. But the tweezers have no problem locating the fibers once we’ve placed them inside it. How blind these idiots are that they aren’t even able to see there’s really, definitely something there. Perhaps one or two of them need to get their eyes checked. But really, it’s right there. I ease it out onto the bedspread with the tweezers and it flakes apart into little pieces. Right there in front of us, a reddish or burgundy sort of color all flaked out onto the bed in the light for all to see. If only we could pull forth something more substantial, perhaps a longer fiber, intact that didn’t crumble. They’ve given me a jar to collect the samples. They promise to send it out for analysis. But due to the lack of agreement on there being anything there in the first place, I’m reluctant to take them at their word.
I’ve managed to extract a more substantial specimen, a fiber. It definitely bears a sort of reddish or burgundy color, the same it’s had since the onset of our illness. Even more so when one looks at it closely under the light. This, now, they can’t deny. It’s there. For the past several hours we’ve teased it out from in between the affected area, slowly. Fragile as the fibers are, I’ve had to extract them very slowly, teasing them out from the inside a centimeter at a time. I’ve remained completely still. Once I have extracted a sizable length there will be no doubt that I’ve been afflicted. They won’t be able to deny it. Then, only once they realize that there’s really something there, can the healing begin.
It’s these things, I keep repeating over and over again, the sores and the fibers that are making everything so painful. If you only looked for a long enough time you’d see they’re really, definitely there, all reddish and sort of burgundy. Dedicate an hour or two to focus on what’s there in front of you, on your patient, your comrade, your once friend. At times it feels as if they’re filling my whole body up, the fibers, I mean. That they’re nearly bursting forth, as if our affliction was more blessing than curse, a sort of brimming over. I am not possessed. I am dispossessed, having been robbed of the legitimacy of the afflicted. Can you not see it? I ask again, in a voice as hoarse as a whisper. A nurse has just entered to change the linen. Can you not see that it’s there? But no, she neither looks nor answers, content with the heavy silence in the room my pleas bed down upon. At one point, she brushes away the flakes on the bed in front of us with the back of her hand and a look of disgust, as if they were crushed bedbugs, as if they were really there. See, I screamed, they’re right there. She simply looks and says nothing, then retreats to the safety of the room’s exterior.
Now, they no longer bother to enter, those colleagues whom I’m trying to convince. But I continue to speak to them as if they too are there, right beside me. I say colleagues, for are we not both dedicated to the search for truth: I, to prove that something’s really there and yourselves, for some broader form of study, myself perhaps. Please use my affliction as an example to help others see the interior truth. Our food enters each day through a tiny chute in the wall over near where we tied the first of the fibers we extracted. There, next to the doorknob, is a sort of steel or greyish nail or screw. It’s there where we were able to find some sort of answer or something more substantial rather. It’s a sort of steel nail or screw head poking out. Once we located it, after some hours, we managed to extract a substantial fiber, enough to carefully tie around the protruding nail or screw head. Enough to begin slowly pulling it out of ourselves. Anchored there in the corner, we began to sort of pull it out of ourselves, much like one would say a rogue thread in a piece of clothing. Look, now you can really see it, spread out there from the corner across the ceiling with the rest of them. Look up there and you can see them all crossing themselves, glinting a reddish burgundy, almost orange, in the florescent light from high above. Upon closer inspection, for we had time, there appeared to be various steel-gray screw heads located throughout the room. These we’ve used to create a sort of web out of the fibers. It’s actually quite beautiful, even in desperation. They can’t deny it’s there now. Are they watching, the way it sways up there? You can see it, like when the food comes and there’s a momentary movement, even the slightest, it undulates like a web in a soft breeze. We pass the time with a sort of stillness, looking between it, the web, and how even now, even still after so much time and effort, it’s there, connected to us. How beautiful, we think, that it’s really there inside and out, spun and woven. A net to catch the light. Illuminated. It’s there, even if there’s nobody here to see it but us. Our affliction glints. Another sort of pleading.
What about here, an anonymous man with anonymous features points to the room. Wasn’t there something there, he says. His colleagues appear at his side. No no, one says, there’s nothing there at all. But wasn’t there something in there I mean. His colleagues line up behind him, forming a line that extends down the hallway. I’m sure there was something there, the man says. Another pushes his way to the front of the line and speaks loudly, in a clear voice, well, to be sure if there was something there or not, shouldn’t we open it. This elicits grunts of agreement that echo down the line. Open it you say, the first man says, yes perhaps you’re right. Perhaps that’s the only way we’ll be able to know for certain if something’s really there or not. But maybe, another voice pipes in, we can see if something’s really there by looking through the window. Ah, the first man says, a capital idea. The man then approaches the door more closely and unfastens the latch from a white metal flap covering the window. He peers inside. He clears his throat, then says loudly, there’s really nothing there. Really, shouts an anonymous person from the back of the line. Is there really nothing there at all, the man shouts again. Yes, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything there. Was there something there at one point. What was there then, someone else shouts. I’m asking if there used to be anything there, the first man says a little louder. He raises his voice. Does anybody remember there being anything there at one point. This elicits another series of exclamations down the line, then a tepid silence. Well, perhaps let’s take a look inside then, is that the key there, a voice interjects. The first man holds the key up, which glints briefly in the fluorescent light of the hallway. Yes, I’ve got the key right here, shall I open it. Grunts of agreement echo and bounce off the walls. The first man makes his way slowly to the door. But what if there’s really something in there, someone shouts, what if it’s dangerous. The first man pauses briefly, then waves his hand through the air and inserts the key into the lock, turns the knob and enters. The rest of them in the hallway squeeze behind him for a look and push him gently through the doorway into the room. See, there’s nothing there. Are you certain, another pushes his way through the crowd and enters the room, standing beside the first. I could’ve sworn there was something in here. The first gestures theatrically towards the empty room in front of them. See, there’s nothing in here, nothing really at all save for a few burnt out light bulbs and a dirty single bed. The second man gazes, looking from one corner to another. He begins nodding in agreement but stops suddenly. His eyes squint. But what about that there, he says to the first man. Over there in the corner, there’s something there. The first man squints as well, then walks over to the corner. Yes, you’re right. What is it, he says. It’s like a smear or flakes or something, the other one says, bending down. It’s a sort of reddish or burgundy color. The first man squats to inspect it. But it’s really nothing, isn’t it. But there’s definitely something there, the other says. Yes, but not like what we thought. No, not like what we thought, the other agrees. But you can see it’s there can’t you, a sort of reddish or burgundy, like wine or dried blood. But really it’s nothing, the first one says. I suppose not, no, there’s really nothing there at all.
Daniel lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of places including ergot, Ligeia Magazine, New South, Burning House Press, tragickal, Heavy Feather Review, Alwayscrashing, PANK, Self Fuck, Surfaces.cx, Youngmag.io, Expat Press, and elsewhere. He's the author of the full-length poetry collection You Alive Home Yet? (Schism Neuronics, 2021) as well as numerous chapbooks of poetry. He's also the author of the splatterpunk novel Blood Pudding (World Castle Publishing) and the forthcoming novella The Mother of Flowers (The Wild Rose Press, 2022). His collection of short stories, Funeralopolis, will be released by Orbis Tertius Press in 2023. A selection of his translations of Chilean poet Carlos Soto Román's 11 is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse as part of a collaborative translation project. Daniel is also co-founder of OOMPH! Press, a small press focused on contemporary poetry and prose in translation. He can be reached on Instagram and Twitter @666ICECREAM. For more of his writing visit www.danieljohnbeauregard.com.