My house sits atop of a mountain in the middle of the sea. It is a box made of transparent glass. It sparkles in the sun and in the moonlight brightly enough for the ocean creatures below to see. My house is big, much too big for only one person. Yet, here I am alone in it.
I’ve lived here almost all my life, ever since the ruler grew tired of me following his steps. He made the house, tucked me into it, set the roof in its place over me, and left. I never had a choice, so I’ve never been very sad about not being able to leave.
I live comfortably here. The ruler was tired of me, but he did not wish to kill or harm me, so he filled the house with everything I could need. I won’t go hungry. If I’m sick, I have plenty with which to care for myself. The house is full of books, art, movies, music, and if I were to get tired of these, there is always the immense sky and ocean to look out on through the transparent walls. Sometimes I see sharks and whales and fish whose names I do not know below the clear water. They used to scare me, especially when I would see their eyes shining up at me at night. But now I pay them no attention and instead look at the stars. No creature from the sea or from the sky could break through this box.
The sun at midday is bright, but the special glass does not let it burn me. The ruler thought of even that. My skin is the same brown it used to be when I walked through tree-roofed forests with him.
I suppose others would imagine my cubed house as being lonely. But the ruler is the only other person I’ve ever known, and how could I miss him when he no longer wants me by his side?
Yet, I guess I do miss him, deep down in the part of me that still loves him.
But I do not dwell on the ruler. I have too much else to do and think about and feel here in my house. I live full days and I sleep long nights.
Early one morning, I am awoken from my carefree dreams by a rocking. My bed is moving. I open my eyes. Everything around me is swaying. I sit up and swing my feet to the ground. It is moving, too. I carefully walk to the edge of my bedroom to look outside one of the walls. Is the mountain beneath me moving? No, it is me, it is my house. It is rocking on top of the mountain.
I am still looking out the wall when I am thrown to the ground by the movement that’s getting stronger. I cover my head with my hands as books, a lamp, wall hangings, everything in the room starts to fall from its place. I am jabbed in the shoulder by the corner of a painting. A fan falls on my head and some of my hair gets tangled in the blades. The nightstand slams against my toes and crunches them back. A sharp edge of my jewelry holder slashes a line down the back of my arm. I must get out of this room.
I crawl awkwardly and as quickly as I can (which is not very quick) out to the hallway where the few things there have already fallen. There is one large bookcase sliding back and forth along the floor, but I can avoid it if I am careful. Books, magazines, and small decorations also slide on the floor. I do my best to avoid what I can. Maybe I will be OK.
But the rocking is increasing and the walls of the house are reaching new heights in the air. Soon the house is no longer swaying but rolling. I am now being thrown back and forth from one side of the hallway to the other as the house rolls down the hill. Doors to other rooms fling open and more objects are thrown into the hallway. There is nothing I can do but try to stay curled up in a ball and keep my head covered with my bleeding arms and hands. Rolling, rolling, bouncing, rolling down the glass box goes with me in it.
Finally, we have reached the end of the mountain, and we splash into the sea. All the furniture and things get pulled to the bottom part of the house that is sinking into the water. I land roughly and painfully on top of the heap, saved. Half of the house is sunken in the water, but I am in the top part that sticks out into the air.
I am frightened. I wonder if the house will sink completely. I cannot live down there, at the bottom of the ocean, with just darkness and monsters around the glass box. I wonder if I will stay in this spot floating forever, with all my possessions, all my food, all I could ever need lying tangled, broken, and useless in one huge clump beneath me. In my shock I cannot think of anything else. I close my eyes. I am scared.
But then I feel movement again, not up and down in a bobbing motion, but back and forth horizontally. I open my eyes and see that the house has caught some waves. We are moving forward, away from the mountain.
I lie down as best I can over the objects jutting out from the big pile. I am completely still except for the blood dripping down various parts of my body and my deeply rising and falling chest. I close my eyes and feel the gentle swaying. I feel some of the tension start to leave me. I will rest.
Sometime later, I awake. I can feel that everything is still. I am frightened again, not knowing what this stillness means. I force open my eyes.
The house has reached the shore. The bottom of it sits angled and wedged into the sand under the shallow water. The tangled bulk of things has slid beneath me so that I am lying directly on the glass with the things in a slope behind me.
Slowly I sit up and look around. There is just bare sand to the right and to the left. There is a dense forest lining the other side of the beach not too far across from me. The forest is made up, not of palm trees or other tropical plants, but of tall oaks.
I sigh and turn back to look at everything shattered inside the house. I don’t know where I am, and now, although it all remains here with me, I have nothing.
Exhaustion, fear, anger, pain, and hopelessness take over. I begin to cry loudly though I know there is no one to hear me.
After much time, I have run out of tears. My eyes are puffy and smeared red from my rubbing them with my cut hands. There is nothing that can be done. I lie down on the glass that remains cool despite its lying on the sand underneath the sun. I pass out.
Some time later – perhaps minutes, perhaps days – I am awoken by a sound I can’t place, and I feel cool air rush against my skin. I snap open my eyes and sit up. There is never wind inside the box and, while it feels good against my sores and bruises, I am alarmed. I look around me, trying to see what has changed. My things are still broken beneath me. There is still nothing but sand and forest outside. But then I see it. In the wall in front of me there is a door, and it is open. The front door is open! There has never been a door before, but now there is, and it is wide open, leading into the sand directly in front of the forest.
I gingerly stand up and feel everything in my body ache. I place one hand against a wall to help steady myself. Slowly, I walk along the corridor, sliding my hand against the firm, cool glass.
I am at the open door. I stand before it for many minutes. I have not been outside this box since I was a little girl. I can barely remember seeing the world directly, not through the transparent glass. Will it hurt to be outside? I wonder. Will I be cold? Will I be hot? Will the sun burn my skin without the protection of the glass? Will the rough sand hurt my feet?
And then deeper questions come: Will I meet others outside the house? Will I meet the ruler again?
I do not want to go. This house is almost all I’ve ever known and I’ve always been safe in it.
But there is nothing in it for me now. My world inside it is over.
I turn back again to take one last look at all that has been my life now crumbled and ruined at the back of the house. Then I lift one foot slowly over the edge of the glass floor and place it tentatively on the sand. It does not hurt and it is not hot. I move the other foot and place it, too, on the sand. For a moment I stand with both feet on the sand outside and one hand still firmly against the wall inside. I look up at the sun with nothing between it and my face. I reach out my other hand to wiggle my fingers in the outside air. I hear the waves gently meeting the shore.
I want to stay here forever, between the world outside and my world inside, but I know that that forever would not last long.
I take my hand that is still resting on the glass wall and bring it to my side. With that simple movement, I am now fully outside, for the first time in many, many years. I am fully outside my glass house, which lies motionless, inwardly destroyed, alone on the sand.
Video: “Gold and Silver”, by Flagship