by Dan Sanders
If there’s anything I know about, it’s being careful. I don’t like the idea that anything could happen by accident. I like a schedule. I like clocks. I like a list. I like to bake. I like method and precision and avoiding anything that would disrupt this, like other people, animals, I don’t own anything fragile. I don’t like to own things that might break, or will be difficult to reacquire if I misplace it, though I don’t misplace things. Everything has a place, and I will put it there. I am careful of who I speak to and why. I don’t wear shoes in the house. I have house shoes. I don’t sleep with socks on so my feet can breathe. I saw a documentary about gangrene that set me straight about feet.
I am constantly aware of other peoples need to speak to other people and having a finite number of things to say to other people, and when they reach their limit, they will tell other people what you told them, even though you don’t know how they’re going to phrase it, how you’re going to be represented in your absence. So it’s best to not speak to anyone at all, not only to keep my own life my own, but to be the only one so reasonable as to not steal from everyone else. I don’t take any medicines. If you go to the doctor and ask for medicine your name gets put on a list, and then the police see the list if anything ever happens. Even if you’re not involved even if something just near you happens, they’ll ask about that list. It’ll say you’re on drugs and then they throw you in some dark hole. No thanks.
I live alone and quietly. I keep the radio down. I don’t have any hobbies that make noise, or require me to make nose. No musical instruments, no singing, no dancing, no sports, no outdoors, no calling attention to myself, it’d only get in my chest and break me apart. I collected stamps until I heard some of the glue was poison, I put that into the fireplace, burned it, reconsidered my fireplace and bricked it over. I washed my hands a lot and wore a breathing mask. There are things in bricks that will give you cancer. I covered my house in plastic sheeting while I did it and left it up for weeks to catch the particulate when I wasn’t around with the vacuum, sealed in a medical-grade containment suit.
I keep the windows closed during rush hour, open in the summer and closed in the winter. I live in a very reasonably priced apartment, I don’t sit near the door in case anyone suddenly opens it. Technically that’s a break-in, I guess. If it were a break-in, I’d probably just jump out the window. I don’t own a gun. I’m not going to just sit there and be murdered.
I own a computer, but I try not to use it. I don’t bring liquid of any kind into the room where I keep it which I’ve dubbed “The Computer Room.” I also, as general practice, I don’t leave glasses on the counter, half full of liquid near anything. I’m careful about liquid. I know a lot about stains.
I speak to my landlord as little as possible and my neighbors even less. I’m considering moving to the woods or the desert, I wonder about why I don’t live there already, and it’s mostly to do with ordering in.
Ordering food in is expensive, though I am particular about saving. I invest. I am risk averse. I get 30 minutes of exercise a day and intend to save enough money to last me until I am 120 years old, not that I will, but I could, it’s been done. I do yoga, I stretch. I drink bright purple juices and eat dark leafy greens. I order them in, so it’s pricey, but your money has to go somewhere. Mine goes to food. Reasonable. Macrobiotic when I can get it, in pill form when I can’t. I weigh 154 pounds. Which is heavy for me, but better than I was, I was spraying my meals with this vita-powder and it made me hate eating. I got too thin. I could squeeze through my front door while it was still chained so I politely asked my landlord for a new lock but he didn’t respond so I bought three. I checked the lease. I mailed him copies of the keys and didn’t lick the stamp. I put a nice letter in the envelope about what a nice place it is to live, and how happy I am to live here. I hope he believes me so he doesn’t kick me out but doesn’t tell anyone I said so so I don’t seem weird – but there are always risks, you walk softly when you have to walk at all and hope for the best.
Food is tricky, though. I try not to cook because the stove has a spot of rust and the vent rattles when it’s on. It’s broken. The landlord said it still works. But broken is broken, broken is a degree of not working, I can see it still works but it rattles so it’s broken. Rattling is step one of a larger problem that will lead to total failure and eventually that thing is going to snap off and send a blade flying into my head or bring the vent through the ceiling and down on top of my rusted cooking surface destroying my kitchen and whatever I’m cooking. So I don’t use it and the heat from the cooking just collects and the steam, the smoke, the smell of whatever I’m making collects and you’ll get cancer if you stand that misty whatever like that so I try not to go in there because of the chicken or vegetable fumes. Whatever I’d cook fumes. Mostly white meat and vegetables. Maybe a tofu. Press that down for a week or two though, I don’t trust that tofu water.
But those vents. Criminal. I have a carbon monoxide detector in every room of the house. I test them three times a week, along with the smoke detectors. I do not smoke. Of course I do not smoke. I go to the deli when I check the mail. I check the mail a lot. Just in case. I order in from a deli that makes what I consider to be the best possible salad a person could make, all major food groups covered in practical portions, and they do not require you to speak to them on the phone or in person. You can just sort of point, which is so, so great. If they talk to me I pretend I have to cough and cover my mouth with a handkerchief, even though I wear gloves. I’m wearing gloves right now. I am considering buying plastic sheeting for the door handles. I heard that the metal in door handles is antimicrobic or antibiotic or something. Germs hate stainless steel for some reason, they touch it and break apart. I looked into getting more stainless steel surfaces, tables, chairs, anything that will kill by existing. I am in a near-constant state of fear. I could call it minimalism, sleep on an operating table, or standing up in steel tube like an iron maiden. Something to contain me, keep things out, let me breathe for once and hear it echo around me, vibrate the metal with the harmonics and feel warm, safe and alive.
Next Week’s Prompt: Resignation Letters