It happens as you sit with your forehead pressed against the glass of a window on a moving train; you realize that a distance has grown between you and everything else. Someone has built a Plexiglas wall, five feet thick and indestructible, around the shape of your body. You can see fine, you can hear fine; you can taste, touch, smell, think, move, but you cannot do it all at once. For some reason, your mind no longer processes these things simultaneously; your five senses are disconnected and now more like foreign countries rather than neighboring towns.
You think of how everything and everyone is fake, just manmade forms like your Plexiglas wall, like your old silver car, like your kitchen sink, like all the bad music you pretended to like in high school so that you could have something “in common” with other people. You think of the books you’ve read and the movies you’ve watched and the food you’ve eaten; you think of the lies you tell your parents when they call you every Monday night, you think of the way your body shudders like an old house when you cry alone in a dark bathroom, you think of the word “estranged”.
Almost everything confuses you nowadays. Almost nothing makes sense. And you are just now realizing how dazed you’ve been, how little of the world you’ve been absorbing. You’re only just now acknowledging your blind spot, you’ve only just now become strong enough to carry the burden that is giving up blissful ignorance.
You eat a deformed-looking Swedish Fish. Your molars and canine teeth pulverize a red monstrosity. You taste pain, you taste blood, you taste snowstorms in April. You taste crimson. Sweetness means nothing to your taste buds anymore; your tongue only understands memory. Your tongue no longer speaks the language you want it to.
The train moves faster. Music swells in your ears, in the plastic nubs stuck inside those two holes in the sides of your head. Everything is orchestrated, everything is written by someone just as bored as you, someone just looking to kill time. Someone just looking to play God.
Have you lost the ability to love? Have you lost the ability to sleep? Do you feel human, still, after all these days walking like a ghost through walls and through people?
When did you let cold indifference get the better of you?
You are chewing up the dead bodies of a dozen old versions of yourself; you are chewing up something dry and chalky, chewing up a bitter multivitamin, chewing up the last remnants of your sanity. You are swallowing depersonalization. Swallow an empty promise, swallow a white lie, swallow your medicine. Everything is tinted the color of virtual reality, everything is backlit the same way your cell phone screen is backlit. Everything is technological, robotic. Everything is dehumanized.
The world slows to the molasses pace of your blood coursing, slows to the pace of your heart beating, gets so slow you think maybe it isn’t moving anymore; maybe your heart isn’t pumping blood to your fingertips anymore.
You can feel it even in your hair and in your nails, this sense of detachment. You’re reminded of that experiment you did in elementary school; the one where you stuck a white carnation in a cup of water and food coloring and the carnation sucked up all that blue liquid and it was no longer a white carnation but instead some sort of strange midnight-colored organism that you couldn’t put a name to. You are the carnation and your increasing lack of self-awareness is a cup of water and blood-red food coloring. You drink in the darkness, void of all taste and texture. Your edges turn red. The whites of your eyes go from white carnation-white to red food coloring-red. You’re not what you used to be. And you wonder if these are your true colors. Were you always this way?
You watch everything outside pass by in a blur, so fast that none of it makes sense, none of it is trees or sidewalks or people or lakes or oceans or mountains, none of it is anything at all. It’s all faded away into the crackling, boiling gray of the static of a broken television set. You don’t speak this language anymore, your eyes don’t read these visual cues, your eyes don’t read letters as formulas for creating words that create sentences; you see only strange shapes and fallen branches. You don’t speak this language. You don’t speak, not anymore.
You sit with your forehead pressed against the glass of a window on a train that is no longer moving, and you gather your things and exit through the rear door of the car. As you make one sweeping stride over the gap between the train and the platform, you wonder about what worlds might be hiding down there in the dark, what worlds might have slipped between the cracks and fallen into oblivion. Perhaps your world is down there, perhaps you are not the problem, perhaps none of this is your fault and you simply belong somewhere else.
Perhaps. It isn’t likely, though, and probably you’re just insane.
You go to work for the day and you don’t tell anybody these things you think about.