Agon established, the narrative begins its initial thrust. After the fact. It is another flashback, but so distinctively incarnated you mistake it for the present at present. (Truth be told, the well-lighted room is fixed and ever-present, so this is an honest mistake. Therein [herein], one can only pretend to move back and forth in time/space.)
An anachronistic, Victorian epistle arrives for Protagonist and the two of you read it silently (though you can almost hear Protagonist mumbling the words under his breath like a child who needs to sound everything out). You expect it to introduce an antagonist or love interest, shed light on the past and present, or at the very least set a course of events in motion. Perhaps it does, but you can’t tell how. Protagonist writes out an equally esoteric reply and deposits it in the postbox at the corner of those two busy thoroughfares of his resident anywhere.
A few days later another letter arrives. And the next day several more letters. By the end of autumn (it’s always already the fall where he is), Protagonist is receiving whole sacks of mail. He could never have dreamed he had so many correspondents. He’d been theretofore unaware he had any.
This epistolary episode lasts for well over ten thousand thousand [sic] pages, spanning more than two decade’s duration in the narrative and bringing Protagonist to the moment you’d met him in this (that) well-lighted place. Each day Protagonist kneels over his prie-dieu, reading and feverishly scribbling away, but is unable to stay the course of this paper trail. After what seems like a lifetime (or a more daunting prospect: has been), Protagonist concedes the comprehensive futility of this preoccupation and vows to “get on with it”—it being life presumably. (Though his recidivism is inevitable, essential, in progress.) He goes to the post office and puts a hold on his mail. Returns to the formerly well-lit room and sits quietly in the dark like a [Carthusian monk/root vegetable/museum piece after hours].
There is great significance in the aforementioned missives, which Protagonist now proceeds to dispose of (into the voluminous recycling bin beside the gargantuan dumpster out back). The narrative’s cipher key is, in fact, embedded in this colossal haystack of letters (you could pinpoint the crux of the curse therein), but you weren’t about to plough through a million plus pages of what seemed to you to be the maniacal ravings of Freemasons, pyramid scheme solicitations and litigious letters to Santa. You don’t have that much spare time to give and you’d have had to give years, if not the rest of your life in the endeavor (to not just read, but comprehend).
You’re beginning to get the feeling that this is precisely what the narrative requires of you. The rest of your life.
Now the room is empty and the lights are off. Protagonist is elsewhere (once removed from his resident anywhere) and Narrator omits informing you of his whereabouts. You’re compelled to imagine where he is and what he might be doing.
And true to form, that is exactly where he is and what he’s doing.
[Title] by [name of author] was published on December 7, 2021 by Sublunary Editions.
Live event with [name of author] on December 18, 2021, 12 PM PST / 3 PM EST / 8 PM GMT: subeds.com/nameofevent