It is June 29th, at 9:39 at night.
You are sitting in a chair. The back is curved into a pattern of half-circle shapes with a ledge separating the top from the bottom. The seat of the chair is rough. Almost like worn-out corduroy. Against your crossed legs, it feels like that thin carpet you sat on as a kid…in the dentist’s office while your siblings were having their teeth cleaned. It was blue, with purple flecks. You pushed Hot Wheels cars across it, and their tires kept getting stuck in the fringe.
A memory. Another one. A shred of a dream, a fragment of the old life. You grip the edges of the chair. The wood is cold and smooth against your fingertips.
That is all you have now.
Your location is unknown. You only have the chair, and your brain, but those two things have been enough to keep you entertained for a long time. How long? No idea. But today is June 29th, because you know it is. Because that’s what you named it to be, just like the day before was June 28th. In the real world, it could be March or September, but sitting there, in your chair, it is June 29th.
That is all you know.
To the right there is a glass pane. Not a window, not a mirror. It is a rectangle, maybe 3/4 your arm length across, but it is large enough to reveal your face. Once. No twice. There is the actual shape of your chin, your cheekbone, your eyes, and high forehead, and beside it is another representation. Like a shadow, it moves whenever you move. Double reflections. You lift up your hand, watch the reflection in the window. The shadow follows it, making it appear like you have ten gnarlish, pale fingers attached to one palm.
You let your hand fall back. The glass only shows your face now.
The small light that allows you to see any reflection in the glass comes from a screen. It is blank. You can touch it, you can press the keyboard, hold the silver button with a circle and a small line through it down until a shimmer runs across the screen. It never changes. It has always been blank.
Blank. That word means something, something more than nothingness.
You tap your fingers against the chair sides. Middle finger down, pointer finger up, thumb up, both down at the same time, two taps with the pinkie. An indie song with a complicated undertone. Maybe blank was in the title, in the chorus, in the theme. Maybe it is from another June 29th in another time. Maybe you heard it on car speakers, listened to it over and over again and tapped out the rhythm on the steering wheel, and that is why you remember it still. Why a single word can bring it back to mind.
It is now 10:03. Approximately.
You know because while your brain keeps track of what it remembers and your fingers find the rhythm to the memories, your foot records the time. By now, it has probably mis-tapped a thousand times over. It could be that the momentary stops or the times you have stretched it or shook it to clear away the numbness have put you weeks behind. It’s something to consider.
It could be June 26th. Or July 13th.
But no, you tell yourself. You are there. In the chair. You believe it because you can feel the wood, tap to it, caress the half-circles on the back. Because the glass holds your reflection. Holds it twice over, just to prove the point. It moves when you move, and the shadow follows it. You know that because of the light from the blank screen.
The memories are irrelevant. The outside is irrelevant. The old life is irrelevant.
It is June 29th. 10:13. You know it is.
It is June 29th, at 9:39 at night.