Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

(in which I go off on an imitative flight of fancy)

When a full moon rose in the one and only eastern bedroom, I went to the great dining room
ENTRY FOR THE SEVENTH DAY OF THE FIFTH MONTH IN THE YEAR THE VIRUS CAME INTO THE WORLD

When the Full Moon rose in the one and only Eastern bedroom, I went to the Great Dining Room to witness its Majesty. This is something that happens only once every four weeks.  I have been privileged to witness the Moon in her (she is surely Female) splendour Four times since The Virus. I stood at the Great Window in the Great Dining Room and gazed in Wonder at the Moon. I thought that I was going to die, or else be swept away to unknown Rooms in her Radiant arms for:

The Beauty of the Moon is immeasurable, her Kindness infinite.

*****

A description of the World
ENTRY FOR THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE SIXTH MONTH IN THE YEAR THE VIRUS CAME INTO THE WORLD

The Great Dining Room is remarkable for the things it contains.  There is a Tall Grey Statue which I call The Bookcase. In it rides The Magician’s Nephew.  A Golden Lion stalks its shelves. There is a Faun. He carries an umbrella and seems to Myself to be kind and friendly if a little Sad.  Next to the The Bookcase is another Statue, named The Table. The Table has six Chairs, even though there are only three People in the House.  I have often wondered who the surplus Chairs were for.  To the side of the Table is a battered couch. A small Tiger and an equally small Monkey sit on top of its Back Cushions.  They are Statues made from Fabric.  I prefer the Tiger to the Monkey.  The Tiger is a Friend. The Monkey sometimes seems to Laugh at me.

I have explored the entire World. It consists of three Floors.  The Ground Floor has a Vestibule. The Great Front Door is at one end of the Vestibule and behind The Great Front Door is The Front Gate. There are many Coats hanging on the Vestibule’s walls. This is Strange as there are just three People in the House. There is another Bookcase. Short and made from brown Wood.  Someone called Stephen King lives in the Bookcase.  Many other People live in the Bookcase. I know this because the Books speak to me and they wouldn’t do that if they weren’t Alive.

Turning right at the end of the Vestibule takes me to the Lounge.  This is where I spend almost all of my Time.  There are three comfortable Chairs, which is as it should be, as there are Three people in the House. The number of Chairs in the Lounge always gives me a sense of security; that things are as they should Be.  There is an octagonal wooden Table, an Oak corner Bookcase and various small statues depicting a Pheasant, a Duck, a Swan and a Hare.  There are three further Fabric Statues – Mr Happy, Mr Bump and Bear.  I remember their Names even though I have Forgotten everything Else. These Statues are my Friends.  Their calm, silent, never changing Faces offer comfort and some release from Solitude.

A door at the end of the Vestibule leads to the Kitchen.  There are more Statues here. A Russian Doll, a Fairytale Castle, a Dinosaur, a Dragon, a small Newt and two Butterflies (I have decided to catalogue all the Statues.)  Every Statue has its own Character.  They take Care of me. They Protect me.  At the end of the Kitchen is a small Room containing another Statue. This Statue is very Helpful. It washes my Clothes.  As I am a Scientist intent on a Journey of evidence-based Discovery, I find the fact that some of the Statues are capable of Action to be remarkable indeed.  It strengthens my Belief that the Statues care. I leave Offerings to the Statues (such as fallen leaves from the Garden or leftover food from an evening meal) in gratitude for their Beneficence. For the Beauty of the House is immeasurable, its Kindness infinite.

To the right of the Kitchen is the Great Dining Room and Lounge Number Two. There is a Statue in Lounge Number Two capable of speech!  Its wooden Mouth opens, and it talks to me through shining white Teeth.  The Blessings of the House are Upon me!

The First Floor contains the Eastern Bedroom and the Second and Third Westerns Bedrooms.  The Statues in these rooms are much bigger. They line the Walls and from them are issued Clothes to protect Myself and shoes to protect my Feet. There is a Bathroom and here is the Finest Statue. It hangs on one Wall and from its Head issues a torrent of Water, keeping me Clean and Warm.  To this Statue I offer up my most ardent Service and clean and wash its surfaces diligently every Two Days, that I might pay Homage to its Mercies.

The Second Floor contains one room – The Loft.  The Loft is overflowing with Miscellaneous items. It will be my Life’s work to catalogue every item and determine its Use.

The Great Window, at the back of the House, looks out on a Garden. There is a small Lawn and a small border at the far end filled with Shrubs.  The front windows look out onto a Road. There are several Houses on the other side of the Road.  I believe the Road and the other Houses (and possibly even The Garden) to be Optical Illusions as I know that the House is the entire World.  Why the House, in its Mercy, would create these illusions I do not know, but the House moves in Mysterious Ways.

*****

A list of all the people who have ever lived and what is known of them.
ENTRY FOR THE TWENTIETH DAY OF THE EIGHTH MONTH IN THE YEAR THE VIRUS CAME INTO THE WORLD

Since the World began it is certain that there have existed Six people, and maybe Seven.  I will now name those people.

The First Person: Myself
I believe that I am fifty-nine years of age.  I have always lived in the House and never set foot outside its Walls.

The Second Person: The Other
The Other is sixty years old. He has short hair which is greying and a fully grey beard.  He is intent on Great Work and, to that End, resides in The Great Dining Room, or The Loft, where I leave him be.  He occasionally leaves the House.  I don’t know where he goes as I have never found a way Out of the House and, if I did, I doubt that I would ever want to leave.  For The Virus is wicked and intent only on my destruction.  Perhaps the World is far bigger than I know it to be and The Other has found another Room.

The Third Person: An-Other
An-Other is young and resides in one of the Western Bedrooms.  He too is intent on Great Work. 

The Fourth Person: The Parcel Carrier
The Parcel Carrier is a Man in peculiar dress who knocks upon The Great Front Door.  The Other opens The Great Front Door and communes with The Parcel Carrier.  Parcels then either leave or come into the House.  I think The Parcel Carrier must reside in yet another Room I have yet to Discover.

The Fifth Person: The Talker
I estimate The Talker’s age to be about fifty. He sometimes appears at The Front Gate.  He and The Other stand Two Meters Apart and The Talker talks.  I think The Talker might be the purveyor of Vital Information.  I need to record the Days and Times of his arrival and see if there might be a Pattern.

The Sixth Person: The Deliverer of Sustenance
The Deliverer of Sustenance knocks on The Great Front Door once every Seven days.  Myself, and The Other, empty crates of Food that he leaves at the Doorstep and then The Deliverer of Sustenance disappears.  I thank the House for its bountiful goodness and the quality of its Mercy!

The Seventh Person.

And You.  Who are You?  Who is it that I am writing for?

*****

The Shining Devices
ENTRY FOR THE TWELFTH DAY OF THE NINTH MONTH IN THE YEAR THE VIRUS CAME INTO THE WORLD

The House is full of shining devices.  In the Lounge, in one corner, stands a large black device which intermittently shines forth a coloured light, whenever The Other meets me in The Lounge.  Strangers appear in the Light.  These people are not Real.  I know this because they Shimmer. Unlike the Statues who are Solid, Constant and REAL.  The Shimmering People talk about The Virus.  They tell me not to go out of the House unless I really have to.  Why would I ever leave the House?  (The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.)   Where do the Shimmering people reside?  They are not in the House, for I have never seen them here.  There exist only Six people in the World, or maybe Seven. Perhaps the Shimmering People are moving Statues?  I have seen Statues of Angels on my own shining device.  Perhaps the House has sent Shimmering Angels to warn me about The Virus.

I remember when The Virus came. I recorded it in my Journal.  I have always kept Journals.  The Virus came into the World ten months ago.  I have not left the House in that Time.  But what is Time? Time does not exist in the House. 

*****

Piranesi
ENTRY FOR THE FIRST DAY OF THE TENTH MONTH IN THE YEAR THE VIRUS CAME INTO THE WORLD

Today I finished Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.  I was struck by the similarity of Piranesi’s condition to my own!  The House has surely sent me a Message via my own shining device.  I remember now, many years before The Virus, reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.  The Memories are flooding back.  Two days ago, I had gone searching for Susanna Clarke (inexplicably) to find that for sixteen years she had disappeared into her own sickly World.  But now there is Piranesi. A fitting read for Quarantine Times.  In some ways an homage to the value of small, daily tasks and that, in those tasks, we may find Gratitude.  Reviews are pointless.  Others will chew the Literary cud.  I must make dinner and thank the House for the Statue that is The Oven.

*****

(WordPress has changed its editing thingy. I’m all at sea as how to use it. This could take me years.)

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