The Somewhere Thing

Somewhere, a long time ago, somebody told her she had done something clever. It felt good, so she stored it away and took it out to impress her friends and looked at it when she was feeling bad so it would make her feel good again. But the way she stored it was wrong, and it warped a little in the sunlight. Where it was meant to say that she had done something clever, instead it told her she was a clever person.

It was such a tiny change that she never noticed. It never looked any different to her, and it still impressed her friends when she showed them. But later somebody told her she had done something stupid. That felt terrible, so she hid it away and never showed anyone, and in the darkness it became malformed. She was still a clever person, but now she had a terrible secret. She was also a stupid person. She was secretly the two at once, and she was terrified that when she would try to be clever, that secret would fall out and everyone would see it.

Much later, when she was too tired to hide anymore, a friend asked her why she no longer did all the things she used to do, like play guitar or write stories.

“I can’t,” she told him.

“But you’re really good at them!” he said.

“No. I’m no good. I can’t.”

He told her she was wrong to think that way, and he left. She felt bad about it. Later, when someone asked her the same question, she told them she just didn’t feel like playing music or writing anymore.

One day she saw a little girl playing in the street, dressed like a dragon. It was a very good costume, and she had a loud roar, so she told the girl she was a good dragon.

“No such thing as a good dragon,” she said.

“Are you a bad dragon, then?”

“No.”

The child left her and ran down the road, roaring and flapping her green wings. The whole way home she thought about the girl, and it wasn’t until that night when she couldn’t sleep that she remembered dragons didn’t exist.

Sleep came easily after that, and before she woke she had a dream. She dreamt she was in a dark place and there was something with her which was two things at once: a good thing and a bad thing. She knew that something couldn’t be two things at once, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was, and it was here with her in the dark. It never did anything, that was the point. It was an inefficacious, ineffable duality thing. She wanted to go over to the good part, but instead she ran away. It was so dark, and she was scared of bad things in the dark.

She woke with a damp forehead, relieved it was only a dream. She pulled on a big shirt and left the room to have a shower. In the corner her guitar was locked in its case. She didn’t open it.