A short story about birth and loss, by Ry No.

Edited by Grace McCarter and sounds by Gold Moth.

Nobody is ever truly alone: we’re all born surrounded. Death has too many options; birth is consistent. I don’t remember much of my own birth. I remember a sudden change in temperature, like when you leave a loud room to a silent street. 


          The scene is darker than eyes closed, which makes me question if mine are. No, I can see the lights on my camera. This feels like a memory, but I know it isn't. It should happen soon; it’s almost time. I’m alone here, the only one who had the guts to take this job. Am I qualified? Maybe. As qualified as you need to be to do something like this. This is an observation, or a documentation, of something that only happens once. Everything only happens once, of course. But, this is a momentous occasion. Or so I’m told. Thoroughly rare, as this is - of course, the first birth. 


         The darkness suggests that the air would be colder than it is, but it’s warm. I’ve never felt air like this.


         I didn’t choose to take this job. Like most, it was assigned to me. Not for any reason - simply because I have no ties to the society. The risk here is too great. Everyone else has families, wives, mothers, sisters, girls, flames. I guess this is fitting. One of the rules we have is to never make the film about yourself, only about the subject. This subject is too abstract, though. How can I create without it being about myself and everybody else? 


          Now’s the time, I see a light emerging from the nothingness I’m standing in. The light gets larger and brighter. It doesn’t notice me. The light is forming into a body, a baby, and then a small boy. His skin is made of light, or it appears to be. He sits alone; he still doesn’t see me. His soft eyes look around as if he can see the space, and maybe he can. He stands up and walks to part of the nothingness. He pivots 90 degrees, a conductor to a symphony. Light forms out of nothing. Walls emerge around him, and wall by wall he looks more comfortable. His shoulders drop as a slight smile draws on. A roof drops down and finally there is a door. He speaks for the first time, with a commanding voice that’s almost philosophical. 


         “When one door closes, another door opens. Let’s close them all and see what happens.” 
His voice sounds like the feeling you have when you are about to say something and immediately forget what it was.  


         Time passes, what feels like years could only be minutes. Time is different here; my surroundings seem to age, but I feel the same. My camera still has film. This is now my only measurement of time as I know or knew it. The boy is older, his walls have multiplied and so has he. There are hundreds of versions of him now. He’s 48 years old and surrounded by a closely knit group of about fifteen hundred.They all live quite simply, and they don’t really do much. Why should they? They’re in this guys head. Or are they?


         Sometimes you lose control of your mind, and then you lose yourself. 


         The man looks around and he doesn’t recognise anyone. He mistakes a mirror for a photo and realizes he doesn’t know himself either. The walls start to fall and the doors crumble. Each person looks the man in his eyes before they disappear. The man is alone again, realising he always was. He’s in the same place he was born, a section of the infinite nothing. 


         The scene is cold as he lies perfectly still in the center of the darkness.  A small light emerges and he takes notice. What is it? Time passes as the light grows slowly.


         A second organism, a true one. A girl. These are her first conscious moments. The man looks in amazement, the look is familiar. I believe I had it when I saw Audrey for the first time, across the road with the sun casting behind her, an eclipse. His attention shifts as a mirror pyramid emerges from black. He approaches it. In an instant his reflection disappears before him, then the mirror. The girl sits. She is alone now. Her expression is fascination, and then it’s fear. Four walls, a door and a roof drop around her, by her own volition. A fully furnished thought-house. She rests, finally. Her breath is steady and she looks content.


         There’s a knock on the door. It’s the boy, he’s a boy again. She glances to the door, and back to her lap. Her features show that she is puzzled, but quickly shakes off the feeling. She’s content with her current state of being. She gets up and closes the door. Another one opens, she shuts and locks it. This is what the boy spoke of, but how did this manifest? She continues for as long as I can stand it, so I move. The doors here are infinite, everything seems to be. The air gets colder as time seems to move. How long will this last? I’m not supposed to interact with the subject, but already I feel too involved. When I knock on the door, my skin reacts strangely. Everything is light here, everything but I. The door opens, although I never thought it would. It’s all dark as I look through. It’s pure black, but even the abyss feels like light. It feels like life. I walk into it still holding the camera. I doubt the footage will be clear but I must persevere. Is this ground solid? I feel so detached. In the distance I can see something, someone. The shapes are abstract but still so familiar. 


         It’s Audrey, but… it can’t be. I can’t feel anymore; the darkness is now pure light. No, colours. Every colour. But each only lasting a moment. Yellow flashing to blue, green to red, but not so simple as that; I see all their hues, except in no order. The colours stop and I see only white and the air is warm. Where am I? What is this? Where’s the girl? The boy? Was that really Audrey?