When I become aware of my surroundings, the first thing I feel is a hard surface pressing against my back. My eyes are still closed, but I can see light through my shut eyelids. It must be pretty bright wherever, I think. I slowly open my eyes to look around me. I;m not sure if it’s what I want to do quite yet, but everything is silent around me, so listening isn’t telling me anything. Ehh I open my eyes,, I’m temporarily blinded by the fluorescent lights above me. After a few seconds, my eyes adjust enough to see the room around me. I’m laying in the middle of a blank, empty white room that stretches into all directions as far as I can see.
I look down at myself. I’m wearing my old ripped jeans and a beaten up t-short, as well as socks and my old beaten up sneakers. Well, I suppose that is a good sign that I stilll have my own clothes, but I have absolutely no idea where I am or why. I try thinking about what I remember last, but nothing comes to mind. I think I had just gone to bed after a long day of classes, but I can’t quite remember. Weird. I feel inside my pockets to see if my picture of Nate is still folded up there. It is, but so is another paper. I pull it out, a little confused because I don’t usually put things in that pocket with Nate’s picture. The paper I pull out of my pocket is a new, crisp paper folded in the middle. I unfold it, wondering what it is. On the paper, the words “You have been banned from existence” are written in thick black pen marks.
Banned from existence? First of all, how can that be true when I am here and conscious? I can feel the paper in. My hand and see the white room around me. I am aware of my surroundings and how I fit in them. So how could I not exist? And second of all, who the heck decides whether people get to exist or not? I don’t believe in God, I never have. I grew up with a very non-religious family and never went to church, so I don’t know of much about God and the Bible, but isn’t God supposed to be all good and loving? Deciding I just don’t get to exist anymore and banishing me to wherever I am right now, alone, taking me away from my family and friends and dumping me here doesn’t;t exactly seem very good or godly. Speaking of, where am I even? I look around me again, trying to see the end of the white room in any direction, but still can’t. I don’t know if it’s because the room is that giant or if it’s because the white of the floor and lights and everything else is all the same shade of white so everything is just blending together…? I don’t know. I glance back down at the paper, even more confused than when I first woke up. “Banned from existence.” Where does that put me thena; even if God exists, if I didn’t exist on Earth anymore, maybe I would still exist in Heaven or Hell, so maybe that’s where I am: but then where are the other people? Because there aren’t any. I am completely alone in this room and am the only pop of color of any kind beyond that stupid glaring white that is covering everything.
Fold the paper and stick it in the opposite pocket I had found it in. I don’t want it touching the picture of Nate, which I pull out and unfold. His picture is the polar opposite of the paper, it’s soft and worn, the crease where it’s folded is flimsy and limp because of how many times it’s been folded and unfolded. The picture is soft and suppple because of how many times it’s been folded and unfolded, touched and held, as well as the number of pockets it’s found itself in, the fabric wearing down the paper, too. I unfold it and look at Nate’s bright smile. He’s holding Ernie, my cat, in the photo. In the picture, Ernie’s got one of his paws against Nate’s jaw, like he’s pushing him awa, but he was really perfectly content. Nate’s eyes look extra blue in this picture, his brown hair an absolute unruly mess. I took this picture on my old Polaroid 4 years ago. We were only 17 at the time. It feels like it was so long ago, but 4 years has also gone speeding by faster than it probably should.
I smile ate the picture, but I feel part of my heartbreaking. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Nate or Ernie again. Not with me being banned from existence or whatever. This is seriously an inconvenience in all regards, really. I have an exam in advanced statistics… I don’t actually know when. I don’t know what day it is or how time works here, if it’s any different. But I still have my exam and then final exams are also starting soon. I’m in my last semester of my senior year at University. I’m getting my degree in English. I graduate in 3 weeks. Well, maybe not 3 weeks. I seriously don’t know how time works here, but the point is that I need to be in class and getting my degree.
I fold the picture back up and slide it into my pocket again. I stare at the ever-going white mass in front of me, feeling overwhelmed and confused. Part of me wants to cry. That’s kind of what I do when I get too overwhelmed. My brain hits a certain poin of stress that is too much and instead of handling it like a rational person, I shut down and lose my rational ability to function properly. I feel that point looming. So I push myself up off the ground and stumble forward to explore. I need to do something and find a purpose in this purposeless prison. If I shut down, I will be of no use to myself. Who knows, maybe looking around won’t help me at all, anyways. But it’s better than letting myself break.
I walk about 40 feet before I find the edge of the room in that direction. I walk back to were I started and continued forward to find the opposite wall. About 30 feet that time. So about 70 feet long. I walk to my right to find that distance.60. I walk back the other way. 40 more feet. So I’m in a giant white box that is 70 feet long and 100 feet wide, and I can’t even begin to guess how many feet tall, and there isn’t exactly an easy way to walk that distance. I walk to the back left corner compared to where I first started. I settle down in the corner, thinking of what to do. If I don’t “exist” anymore, do I not need to eat anymore? Or do I still need food because I still exist enough to be aware of my surroundings, so am I existent enough to need food still, too? Am I going to starve in here? I uses the only way I’ll know is by waiting. There wasn’t a door to escape from, not that I found when exploring, anyway. If I still exist enough to starve, do I exist enough to die? I still feel like I always do. I feel aware and alive. I am still solid, not like a ghost or whatever. If I don’t exist, shouldn’t I not feel normal? Thinking about this is just overwhelming me though. I have nothing to do but wait and see.
Nothing happens. I don’t know how long I have been in this room. Maybe it’s been an hour or a day. But nothing has happened except my rising panic. At this point, I feel almost ready to start pounding on all of the walls and scream. Instead, I sit in my corner, squeezing my eyes closed, focusing on my breathing. Panicking will not solve anything. Panicking will ot get me out of here. Maybe nothing will, but if there’s a way out, I’m fairly confident that acting like I belong in a straight jacket probably isn’t the best way out. So I sit and focus on my breathing. Maybe then I will clear my head enough to think straight and find a logical solution. I’m good at that, when I’m not overwhelmed to the point of malfunctioning. I am very good at solving puzzles. I am a logical thinker and if I just think logically and keep my cool, I can figure it out, I can figure my way out.
My eyes are closed, but I have calmed down enough to be more aware of the rest of the room around me, so I feel the pressure change before I see anything. I open my eyes, not sure what to expect, but feeling my heart clench up in anticipation and nerves. The room looks the exact same except for a box now sitting in the spot I was when I first woke up. I get up shakily and walk to to it. The box is probably a foot all the way around in dimensions with one of those lids you just pull off, one of those storage container boxes people keep under their beds or whatever. I approach it and consider what I should do. It could be something useful like food. Or, some part of me thinks, it could be dangerous. Well, if it’s dangerous and kills me, there isn’t much I can do about it. If I don’t open i, maybe I will suffer, but whoever is in charge of this place can do anything to harm me. I’m completely at the mercy of whoever is outside of this room. If the box explodes when I open it, they caused it. If I don’t open it and, therefore, don’t theoretically explode, they can send anything else in here to get rid of me. At least this way I have the choice to open it, so if something goes wrong, at least I know I’m the one who made the choice to open it. But who knows, maybe it could have something positive inside, like food or a blanket or a clue. I don’t really know what I’m hoping for the box to be holding.
I grab the lid and yank it off, holding my breath. Again, nothing happens. Inside the box is a bottle of water, and apple, a loaf of bread, and a piece of paper. Another paper? What is this one going to say? “You’ve been banned to living”? Then what? I pick the paper up and unfold it with shaky fingers. In the same pen marks and writing as the first note, are the words “You have been taken under false pretenses. You will be released in another month.” I drop the paper, shaking everywhere. A month? I have been banned from existing for a month? It’s only felt like a few hours at most. I mean, on the bright side, that means I only have to wait a few more hours, or what feels like a few hours. But “taken under false pretenses”? I feel my blood pressure rising and my face getting warm. My shaking is still out of my control, and I know that I’m getting angry to the point of lack of control. I pick up the lid to the box and fling it as hard as I can into the distance. I kick the box, screaming at the injustice. I remember the apple, though, and pull it out fefore I bruise it. There’s no point in damaging the title food I’ve been given in the last month, apparently. I bit into th apple. I’m expecting it to taste like it should, but instead, it’s only a muted taste of nothin in my mouth. Great, even the food is banned from existing properly here. I eat the apple anyway, then pull the loaf of bread towards me. I eat a couple slices and pus it away. Tasteless bread, I'M REALIZING, IS NOT MY THING. I OPEN THE BOTTLE OF WATER, TAKING A SIP. AT LEAST THAT STILL TASTES LIKE IT SHOULD. I SETTLE BACK INTO THE CORNER AND WAIT FOR MY BAN ON EXISTING TO LIFT.