There is an old farmhouse that exists solely on the burnt photograph edges of childhood memory. The sort where it tastes almost like a dream – the fading aftermath of imagination. Feathers and sawdust hack the throats of certain unfortunate wanderers; the mid-morning sun sears kisses against the jutted corrugated iron teeth of the unrepaired fence. The corvids watch, with their oily mane of black feathers and beady hollow-socket eyes. It’s the mirage of a desolate oasis, rotted from the inside out, and yet there is such familiarity in its ruin that not many can demand of themself to walk away. 

The second point – you know when someone you once cared about comes back wrong. 

“An impossibility,” comes the mild rebuke, followed by a genial laugh, “I have been here by your side the entire time.”

That’s not the lie either. Would it have been kinder to drown in the pretence otherwise? To maintain the deceit, to keep yourself in the trappings of that same delusion that is practically being shoved down your throat. You’ve long since crossed that line from curiosity to outright fear. Because there is hardness on the face of the one you love. You drown within the pendulum of emotions that is not yours. Bitterly, always the mediator, always the peacekeeper. 

Those eyes. 

Those eyes that have changed from the soft brown of which you were so fond of, to something that brims with manic heat and light drawn into a singular focus – the facet of an otherworldly lens. The word that comes to your lips is glass. Brittle like glass. Sharp like glass. A contradiction of eternity. The shine of light against the elevation of black keys as the piano plays long into the night, a cacophony locked away in the office. It plays the bird-whistle song of grief – not a tune familiar to your hands. 

“That’s a lovely piece.” You say, leaning against the doorway as the coda draws to a pattering end. More pointedly, “I didn’t know you knew how to play.”

A wet laugh. “What can I say? I’ve had all the time in the world to learn.”

No, you think, you haven’t. 

You don’t say this out loud, of course. 

The armadillo crosses the road.

The shiny beetle-black of its exterior is a round blur that tip-toes at the edge of the white line threshold. The tail flicks thoughtfully, thick and striped, as the curious face sniffs the heavy human scent of gasoline and burnt rubber. The ears – twin pitchers on either side – swivel like radars touching down on foreign ground; it paws at the edges of the red tuft grass and the dwindling earth, pressed back in cautious wariness as the vibrations from the road rattle loose its bones. 

It watches, as the rumbling metal freights zip past with frightening volume. Its eyes are beaded black and wide with the effort of straining to take it all in, and its curiosity this time outweighs its natural terror for there is something breathtaking in bearing witness to the unspeakable. The pink-yellow dusk touches its quivering body as gently as an embrace. It unfurls, a slow unravelling of terse muscle and animal tissue. It rocks on its limbs against the ground and finds comfort in the lengthening shadows of night. 

It has enough animal brain to fear, but not enough to truly think. 

The armadillo crosses the road.

It gets hit by a truck. 

I think the most horrifying thing is the plausibility. The cyclic earth spins on and on to an axis that no one sees – an orbit trapped within another within another – and nobody bats an eye. All under the umbrella term of fact of life. It means that day revolves night, and night to day, and everything is the same but nothing is. There’s a special sort of insanity with the measure of time, in numbers otherwise mundane given value. Sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour – and watch as the perpetuity of the half-infinite symbol fears to define this very madness. 

It takes. It takes and it eats and eats away at human memory as a moth ravages through a forgotten drawer of once-loved clothes, turning memory to escaping specks of dust. 

I don’t remember the first day of repetition. I scarcely remember the last. Human perception is catalogued by sense and sight; unreality persists as everything else beyond those boundaries. The brush of a palm against the crust of sleep in the early hours of dawn, swallowed by routine, like the ink on a page left undried. Caffeine – thick and cloying – and the ant-like frenzy of too much energy later on. Regret is very short-lived as I find out.

The third point – consequences. 

Morality has always been defined by its repercussions. I shed both. I do everything right I can think of – I tell everyone I love them (they don’t remember), I force myself to enjoy the trivialities of life (it doesn’t matter), and I’ve simply walked out the front door to as far as my car could take me (up to Virginia, before the fuel inevitably sputters out). Every book from the library has ended up in my hands at some point or another. I have binged Netflix – and Prime and Hulu and Disney – till there was nothing left. My credit card has been emptied thrice over. I have even gotten black-out drunk too many times to count. 

Nothing worked. And then I decide to do everything wrong, because with this madness comes a peculiar sort of freedom. 

(You get to live, the google article says. Even if you don’t have much of a choice. It’s impossible to give up. You get to learn a hundred new skills, and master them all, and live frivolously each day. It doesn’t matter if it is undone. You get to meet every single person and study them. You are immortal, and you have no responsibilities. There’s nothing stopping you from glueing yourself to the television. There’s nothing stopping you from a thousand beach days. There’s nothing stopping you.

There’s nothing stopping you-)

I have robbed every bank and bodega ten streets over. I have learnt far too much about the people around me than I ever care to – at precisely twelve at noon, Abigail Graham down the street is helping herself to her sister’s slush funds, little Louise in the playground is throwing a tantrum, and the immediate neighbour is halfway through cutting up her dealer and disposing of the pieces. There’s also a surprising amount of crimes to get arrested for, I learn. On the 150th cycle, I let myself be caught with neon green spray paint and a crude artwork to pair. It’s a traffic violation the next day. Fraud and impersonation the week before. The police radio hurls curses the entire way speeding down the highway; once, I think I vaguely remember getting my X-rays done and then robbing the whole pharmacy for the hell of it. 

Loop 250 until 270 is spent stubbornly plastered to the bed. 

It’s that moment where the dreams are more pleasant than the reality of it. It feels like letting myself drown, but I am tired and past caring at that stage. Buoyed by the wisps of my own imagination – the shape of memories intermingling with dreams and thoughts and the ghost of sensations – and I drift. My arm grows numb tangled up within the sheets – the 99th loop featured an extensive gym workout. Day, I think, and night. Night and day. Both lost their meaning. Both have slipped their significance as much as a snake periodically does to its skin. 

And sometimes moonlight leaks through the thin flap of the curtains, the folds drawn back the sliver of a crack by accident or design.  The world outside a flurry of whisper, the sounds of distant night creatures and insomniac humans alike, gentle thumps of footsteps contrasted by harsh engine revs in the horizon. There is a sense of physicality in sleep. So tangible that sometimes I think it is possible to reach out and silence that thing within, to sink rationale into these very bones and blot out the human terror as easily as a shadow does to light.

I don’t bother keeping track of time. The face of the watch is cracked. 

Because somewhere past the 600th iteration of Thursday, I am close to a year and a half older and nowhere near Friday than I was in the morning. 

The armadillo crosses the road.

The armadillo crosses the road.

The armadillo-

For an earth that prides itself on scientific truth, I find that it relies just as desperately on made-up things. The planet itself speared on an invisible rotating kebab line – a thought experiment down to its very core – and the divide between where space begins and ends is equally debatable. At an altitude of around 100 kilometres above sea level and at such a nice round number, the Kármán Line makes its debut. The imaginary line torn between the gravity of what comes above and below. I can imagine it all too easily – the unmaking of the earth’s messy insides, spilling bowels of cloud and escaping air pressure like a punctured balloon. 

The city skyline suffocates in darkness. The clouds choke the sight of the atmosphere beyond, and as I stare into the pooling inky blackness, I feel a twinge of pity for that night sky.    

You are lost, I think. As am I.

I stand in the middle of a crossroad. Soil cakes my fingertips and stains the canvas of bruised and bloody palms, and as my fingers touch my cheek, I cannot tell if the salt is from my own tears or the ocean air. If I were poetic… if I were any more lost to the delusion of the thoughts and wonderings that pour out like an uncoiled mass, the bloom of blood and ink against water, against paper… I would claim to see my home in the distance, embraced in that darkness, like a ship with lights far out at sea.

There are a hundred paths laid out in front of me – train tracks and roads and railway lines and surging waves and the orbits of space, the circular rings of tree barks and frayed rope which tighten like a noose. The pendulum of memory swings in my mind’s eye. It leaves the confines of my skull with a quiet displacement of air, but the sound is akin to the screech of metal sliding against metal – ears ringing with the staccato of it, a detached arpeggio of notes dragged downward an instrument with claws instead of delicate fingers.

You’ve changed, that voice tells me. 

“And yet the world,” I say ragged, “is precisely the same.”

Well, it says after a thoughtful pause. There’s one thing we haven’t tried yet.

There is no goal for me to fulfil. No grand regret to undo in this maddening carousel of life. There was just myself, and a broken-record world. 

I suppose-


That voice knows. It has known long before I voice the words into even a fraction of semblance deep in the static of my mind.  Instead it changes gears and asks rhetorically, then why do you keep saying it? Telling everyone you love them when it ultimately means nothing.

“Because they say it back.” I say. “Because there is a chance they’ll remember tomorrow.”

And when they don’t?

And if they don’t? 

With four words, the doubt lingers. It burns, an insatiable flame. It mocks it is simply a leap of faith, that that’s all there ever was to it. Not the stagnation of the doubt that there will never be an end, but the possibility that breaking it could have been as simple as that. To let go and simply surrender to the ephemeral currents that tug and ebb, and hope it will be greener on the other side of tomorrow’s grass. A shift in the pattern of thought – to find comfort in that freefall.

The eyes of the starless sky glitter with pity and understanding. It says nothing for a long while. 

But I do. I fill in the gap, murmuring the words spoken by a dead man in the same cadence as a prayer, as if it holds any power to anchor my soul to the driftwood of hope that slips past my trembling fingertips. “Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole,” I whisper, and there’s a curious chill of calm that paralyses my bones. “I thank whatever gods there may be-”

For my unconquerable soul.

And I step out into the night unwittingly into the path of a truck.

The armadillo crosses the road.

But this time, it looks both ways first. 

Written By: Trishta

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