You arrive home from your weekend away to find that your landlord has removed the gable wall in your bedroom, merging you with the adjoining building. You have not received notice of this action from him. Where there were two separate bedrooms, there is now one. A mirror image: two wardrobes, two desks, two beds. The only difference is the man on the new bed—he is no mirror of you. His face is in there somewhere, concealed beneath a fuzzy orange beard emerging from under a matching beanie hat. He is sitting on the end of your room’s new bed rolling a length of paper between sausage fingers. “Smoke?” he asks. In your stunned condition, joining him is the only choice. You stand beside his window, opening it up to exhale your smoke. This new window looks out on the same street as yours, but somehow the view is different. There are new trees. Unfamiliar corners of houses. Strange colours. Even the people walking the street seem like a replacement cast. You smoke and try to take it all in, wondering how long it will take you to acclimatise to the novelty.
You aren’t sure when it happened, so you sit on your bed and consider the fact that—without question—your room has mirrored into duplicates. The landlord removed the wall without asking. The why is more difficult to figure than the how. The new guy who walks in on your thoughts looks nothing like you. He’s famine-thin and so tall that he has to duck his head coming in the door. Standing there like nothing he’s seeing makes sense, even the familiar half of the room that’s his. You offer him the cogitation smoke you’ve spent the last few minutes rolling. He takes it and says, “Thank you.” He looks out your window. You study his half of the newly singular bedroom. It is very tidy. He has clearly never had to mop up spilled beer, or, days later, sweep up the filthy overflow of makeshift ashtrays, or deodorise the lingering stink of stale hangover sweat. His side was always immaculate, by the looks of things, while yours—yours can only pretend to have ever been clean atall.
This piece was previously published on Bogman’s Cannon.