Words By Ven Corbet, Art By Hailey Renee
I want you to tell me something interesting, he says.
It’s like a game, he says. In this game we share everything with each other, no pause or unequal exchange. Going back and forth like tic-tic-tic like that… that game. What’s that game?
No, it’s badminton. With a whiffling sound from the… the birdie. That’s what it’s called. In any case, I think you’ll like it. How opening up feels.
How does it feel, though?
Hmm… like unfolding. Ironing out creases. Have you ever played with one of those paper fortune tellers? When you take it apart, you can see all potential futures clearly and blot out only the ones you dislike.
Simple and glossy, like looking into a bowl of ink…
Well, that’s just dramatic. That makes it seem so extreme. It’s just honesty, that’s all I mean. I’m overcomplicating it.
I think so. So, we share the truth?
I think that depends on you. I’d rather hear something interesting that I believe. It’s honest if you fool me. Sometimes I dream of my eyes covered by smoke the color of burning pine trees. Sometimes behind my eyelids I see flames leap up parallel mountains in the dark. Living in a paper house is just like living in any other house, if you have self-restraint. Living in a paper house is just as easy as living in any other house, if you have small feet and breathe shallowly. Maybe there’s something about morality to point out here, in the virtue of a burnable home, fragile walls. Sometimes I dream of watching from the paper deck of a folded house as flames leap up the neighboring valley. Living in a paper house is just as safe as living in any other house. Sometimes I wake up feeling creased from the memory of the perfect paper home. Folding everything out would be dangerous. Then you’d actually have to see what had been folded in.
Tell me all the things you think are true.
Here are some of the things I think are true: I’ve been hungry and eaten whole raw cabbages. There was always enough money and food, that wasn’t the problem. The house went red because of jars of tomato juice, but the walls were cut by the glass. I ate raw almonds.
Don’t those have cyanide in them?
There’s something in the deep end of the pool. Something burned in the fire, but it wasn’t the house. It was something inside. Paper is so flammable, which means there’s no evidence of anything to tell the truth about. Behind one folded mirror in our first paper home is a painted heart. The second owners never found it. At some point someone came through the walls and blotted everything black. When the house sagged down, I could hear the wind whistling, hear wind chimes making tic-tic-tic sounds against the bark.