The Secret Room
I may have mentioned that I'm writing alongside my Creative Writing class this semester. This week we started prose, and our first prompt came with some specific instructions. They had three slips of paper. On the first, they wrote the name of a room. On the second, some kind of luxurious material. On the third, something organic that could decay over time, however it could be alive when found. We then mixed up the slips of paper so that everyone had something different than they had written down originally. For the first ten minutes, we could only see what room we had and what material created it. For the second ten minutes, we had to introduce the organic matter on the third piece of paper. Here's what I managed to create with the 20 minute time constraint and the random ideas on paper.
The living room was made almost entirely of turquoise. It started with the floor, tiled in turquoise squares only an inch by an inch. How tedious that work must have been. As the eye moved up, a thin silver piece of metal acts as the baseboard, separating the tile and wall. The same silver has been wrought into little posts that hold up the chairs. The chairs themselves seem cold, having been carved from massive chunks of turquoise. Though the ergonomic features of the human body have been considered, as one can see the shape of a rear end shallowed out in the seat of each chair. The rigidity makes one wonder if only one person of the same size and shape could possibly live here.
I step from the cold tile to the rug, hoping for some relief from the oppressive feeling of stone radiating through the soles of my feet, but the rug, too, has been carved from turquoise. One can see that the roped threads that would be present within a traditional woven rug have been carved into this elaborate piece as well. Who had the time or the sanity for all this?
Or was it lack of sanity that created all this?
I look to the walls, smooth otherwise for the pictures that have been carved as though they were separate pieces of art. Here I can start to see some of the creator’s thoughts. In the first one, a happy family with a child in between the parents. In the next, the child is missing, but the parents have aged, in the one after, only the woman remains. A broad smile twists her face, but it isn’t out of the gentle happiness in the first frame, no, this is from life’s misfortune.
I move, then, to the bookshelf, also carved out of the wall. The books here will never be read as only their spines exist. Shaped references without words that will never mean a thing. Yet, here is the only thing different—set apart in this room of turquoise. It’s the husk of a tarantula. I know not whether it’s molted skin or the shell of a dead tarantula who made this room of turquoise its tomb. I nearly reach to pick it up, but years of arachnophobia paralyze my explorer instincts instead. Maybe I’ll resort to the old childhood trick of poking it with a stick. I glance behind me, thinking that I might find something useful, only to be reminded of the superficial qualities of this room. Turquoise in small amounts is gorgeous, yes, but to have created an entire living room is, well, unlivable, if the reader doesn’t mind the pun.
“Admiring my baby, are you? That was his first molt,” Priscilla announces as she comes through the doorway. I’m beginning to understand why most therapists don't make house calls. Did I even let anyone know where I was going?
Thinking quickly to our earlier sessions, I pried a name loose from my mind. “This wouldn’t be Harriet, would it?”
“It is, but she won’t come into this room anymore. She finds it… cold. Do you find it cold, doctor?”
“Well, it’s certainly different isn’t it? I mean, it isn’t every day you find rooms carved out of polished stone. The details are really quite extravagant.”
“Like my family pictures?”
A trap was being set, and yet my training had not prepared me for how to get out of this one.