Dear Prospects (~A Short Story~)

(If you want a copy with the original fonts preserved, feel free to download the attached PDF at the bottom~! Would love to hear what you all think, and see ‘ya soon!)

Greetings Quintus.

Grueling month, innit?

I suppose the month has been painful for us all, and I apologise for my lack of correspondence, but it did take me time to figure out how exactly I could put this into words. I certainly hope a month of monotony was not enough to diminish your curiosity.

It all began in this white room, or should I say grey; the specificities are eluding me at the moment. There I was, sat by a table at the center of the chamber, not any longer than the desk you built for my mum last December. A teacup laid in front of me, filled to the brim, and, well, you know me well enough to realize what I did with it. I downed the cup in a gulp and smiled as I kicked up from the stool, for ahead of me was a door, brown unlike the rest of the chamber. That was all I could stare at, and I went straight for it, yet past that door was none other than myself!

“Adair, would you fancy a seat?” I asked to myself. I was fully conscious, yet there I was, sitting behind a desk across from the door. 

That doppelgänger looked much the same as I, everything from the hair to the suit I wore. I took a seat in front of the desk, then listened as he, or rather I, spoke up.

“Tell me again why you choose to believe I’m two separate people?”

Oh my did that line make me chuckle. Think about it, “I’m”? I was talking to myself here!

“I am you, am I not?” I responded.

“For the time being, yet I must ask again why you feel the need to distance yourself from me.”

“Distance? But little has transpired since that night, aye? Have you seen… something I have not?”

“…I feel as if you are not seeing me. Not hearing me.”

“No no, I can hear you… myself? Whatever, I can hear you.”

Whatever that decoy tried to get at, I frankly have little to no clue, so I sat there staring at myself, and so did “he”. 

Perhaps I may call that clone of mine by my second name for now?

There sat Isidor, just looking me up and down like I’m some ex-lover of his, but something else caught my eye then. Recall how astonishingly un-detailed these rooms were? To the left of that desk opened up a passageway! Its facade looked much the same as everything else, but at its end was my bedroom, exactly the same as how I had left it the night before I was whisked away to this wonderland.

There, now, was Isidor again, sat alone at the foot of the bed and weeping. Just whimpering in place. The scene, perhaps the set, outside my windows was the same as the night so vivid in my head, yet it never clicked to me why he, maybe I, was crying at the time. I tried to call Isidor, to no response. I tried to tug at him, still nothing. 

And when I say “nothing”, I mean zero change. He never returned an acknowledgment, but his cry remained as loud and morose as ever before. I tried to call him once more as he seemed to shift a little, and that time, believe it or not, he finally did call back to me.

“What becomes of a planet whose star has burnt out?”

I distinctly recall how I responded afterwards because I don’t believe it was me speaking.

“A nomadic rogue. One that drifts in search of a flame that has long gone.”

“What becomes of a clock that never turns its hands?”

“An ornament frozen in time, always grasping at the same minute in the hopes it may some day serve its purpose.”

“What becomes of a car whose wheels have given out?”

“A decrepit husk helpless to scream as those with a will drag it along.”

“Then what does that make you?”

I came back to my senses when he asked this question, but I couldn’t respond with anything other than some unintelligible murmurs. I couldn’t understand what I had replied to him beforehand anyways. He responded to my mumbles with good ol’ fashioned silence before looking me dead in the eyes.

“It makes me a hapless dolt who sped through the highway of fate and paid its toll. Do you have reason to believe it does not mean the same for you?”

“I… don’t know.”

“You know it. You just answered your own question.”

“My… what?”

I tried to ask Isidor what he meant, but at the flick of a wrist he’d phased out of the bed, out of the room, out of sight. Though I understood nothing, another passageway had opened up at the opposite side of the bed.

I trod on further along this way for I could just about catch a glimpse of something ahead. It looked to me like some sort of a bright room ahead with my bedside table at its centre. I didn’t know what was on it or what the rest of the room looked like, but that image of something so familiar lying right there in front of me filled me with this… torrent of comfort I may never feel again.

As I paced into this bright room, whatever ethereal lights that were illuminating the place slowly dimmed, but as I had made it to that bedside table, it didn’t bother me as much as it should have. 

All that was on the table was this gift box. If you saw it, you wouldn’t think twice, and neither did I. I tore the wrapper off to find a smaller, rectangular case within, labelled with one of those “to” and “from” cards.

It was addressed to me, by my full name, even my old surname, but whomever sent it left their name out, not that it mattered. Do you remember those presents my mother gave your wife at your wedding? Same bloody card. I knew, I just knew, that it looked familiar, but it never dawned on me what that card meant until I opened the case.

Inside that case was a pink tulip.

I held it aloft, stared at it, spun it around a little, but for a while it seemed just like any other flower off my mum’s garden.

I don’t know how I didn’t draw the connection sooner.

But when I did, I just collapsed and cried.

The same way Isidor had in the bedroom.

You know what I’m talking about. 

That finally hit me the very moment the history of that tulip sunk into my head. I thought about the time I was wasting by being stranded in this purgatory. I cried about the honour that was left on the line… the honour that I had already lost.

I cried about the minutes I was losing to this hell, a handful of meaningless but ever-so important minutes I would never get back. 

Then I tried to screech for help.

Just screeching, even rambling, because I couldn’t get a word out. I was sobbing as loud as I could to call for anyone, just anyone, who could be there somehow. I thought Isidor would come, and he did!

But he did nothing.

He stood there where I had entered the room from and stared at me, probably approached me too, but I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t understand anything he may have said. He probably couldn’t understand anything I said.

It was this maelstrom of discord between every nerve in my brain. One implored me to turn back and see myself in a steadfast, happier time. Another begged me to gaze ahead at the years I have left, however dreary they may be. A third exhorted me to stay exactly where I was: in a banal dimension where I came face to face with my sorrows, but could not be harmed by any outside actors.

Eventually Isidor tried to reach for me, but by then the now-morose chamber began fading away right in front of me. I tried to grasp for him, but as our eyes locked, he too disappeared, vanishing before the rest of the room could take its turn.

The table, the tulip, the card, every last thing that was in that room and around it ceased to exist in the moment fate brought me back to reality. 

I now found myself sat in my car—not driving or anything, just halted in some car park. I have little idea how I ended up there, but as the lot seemed deserted, I sat where I was and wept in much the same way I had in that nightmare. That was where I spent most of my night; thinking back to a time when I could be chuffed… When I was still as jolly as when I was a child because so little had changed.

I realize now how naïve it all was. You’ve always reminded me that experience makes a man, aye? That month was the first time I had to face such a tragedy… that I would be left in shambles despite all expectations entreating me otherwise. That eve was the crux of it all, and, as my mum always said to me when I was a young lad, sinking to rock bottom only leaves you with room to ascend.

I may call it a “nightmare” or a “dream” or any terms of the sort now, but that’s merely because I cannot put up any other explanations. It was all as tangible as it was intangible, and that doubt… that uncertainty… I fear as if it’s only taken a greater toll on me.

I’m sorry again for dropping such a vague dream for you to make out, but I’m not in a good state to pen anything more concrete than this. I do believe you at least know exactly what all this means, what all of it could mean. I do believe the conclusion you’ll draw have is exactly what I wanted you to have.

When we see each other again next week, I’ll haul along the trunk of trinkets my mother always wanted to share with you and your wife. I hope you’ll have the pink tulips ready for her burial.

Take care mate,

— Adair Isidor Priestley-Eccleston

~Downloadable PDF attached here~

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