Dear Minty –
My darling sister. I shall get straight to the point. The plastic snot doctor has decreed that I am to have an extra red line. I am to go nowhere, Minty, and see nobody. I am contagious. Not just my ideas this time Minty – my very breath. The lingering touch of my fingers carries more than just power, it carries disease.
I knew this was coming, Minty. I have consulted that same plastic snot doctor daily, even as I have felt the march of symptoms. There are aches, Minty. Aches in my bones where there were never aches before. In the night I wake up feverish, and not just from the memory of foolish words and missed opportunities (although they plague me still, they plague us all for that is the human way – OH IF I COULD TRANSCEND THE FLESH ONCE MORE). Always before, the snot doctor has returned a single line. But this morning, Minty – there it was. Accusing. Implacable. The confirmation. A sharp accusing red line like those lines of blood in the grass. I am a pariah
I knew it long before the doctor told me, Minty. Had I listened only to his lines I would have walked under the sunshine the last few days. I would have kissed the pretty men and women as I met them in the streets, and spat my lucky spittle in my hand as I passed trade with the hawkers, the vendors and the transporters. But I sensed it, my darling sister. The onset of the plague. That plastic doctor is a slow witted fool. He is not to be trusted, although now he has changed his opinion he is sticking to it. But if we all obeyed the plastic snot doctor and overlooked our own knowledge of our own bodies, we would be spreading this plague everywhere, willy nilly.
As yet it is but mild, this plague … as yet. I must isolate a while though. Here I must remain in my Chelsea garret, overlooking the dark flow of the river and beyond it to the south that shining park where we we did the deed.
The fish are here with me. They bubble away and flip and race. Sometimes I wonder if they think me some strange God as I leer down into their world, and sometimes I wonder if that is perhaps what I could have been had you not prevented me. They talk to me, Minty, but mostly it’s about food. Fish are not company. They merely exist, and repeat themselves. But so it will be with me, Minty, from now until the day of my release. I will just exist here. Alone. Walking from room to room. Mumbling.
I spent a long time today watching things – bizarre things, even more unusual than we are used to. Stranger Things, they call them. I watched all the Stranger Things. I sat in my pants with the fish dancing. Occasionally I coughed to myself. Perhaps it is their influence that governs my communication style today.
Tomorrow perhaps I shall look out of the window once more and feel different. Perhaps I will look upon that park where once we walked. The world is cold, Minty. And it is that time between times. A thin time. The nubbin of the year. The days between Christmas and New Year. Did you not call it Malcolm? I am here, alone with the fish and with Malcolm and the occasional pronunciations of the snot doctor. All will be well. But it will take time. As it always does. As everything must while we remain trapped in such a pedestrian narrative as chronology. I must break free again. But no. Never again.
I trust that you are well my beloved sister. Lou and I are sundered by this plague but I know she would send her love were she to know I was writing to you. You have my assurance that here, in this garret, all alone, I will not allow the portal to reopen in my mind. We learnt enough that last time, in the park, oh God. Often it begins in Batter-Sea, with the thin edges there. With Dagon and the statues of the minotaurs. But here in my garret I will sit with my plague. Your dear brother will not be foolish enough to meddle once more – although could you send me the tiniest sliver of mandrake root? It is for my aches and pains, mixed with aqua vitae and ginger. I will not use it for the rite of Carth-Natrax.
Sending all love and with wishes for a happy new year,
Your darling brother,