That night had I stood at the foot of my bed and stared deep at the rumples and creases in the blanket. It was not my blanket, nor was it my bed: the entire room had been gutted and refinished by my landlord during my stay in with the professors and their little retinues. There was no indent of my body weight, no smell of soap or prints of dirty feet—truly sterile of any human presence.
So I left the room, and went downstairs to sit by the communal typewriter, to look at the upright metal keys with their little embossed letters and see how they all fit together. There was a sheet in the slide, covered with a half-finished paragraph of some sort that I didn’t look at too much.
I pressed a key, and the corresponding letter snapped onto the paper, continuous of the paragraph. But now the word I had subjected to curiosity was illegible, a smear of ink that made no sense. Another key layered upon that, and the mess began to slowly run downwards. I watched it spread and blot and blur, and tried to wipe it away but only stained my thumb.
There was no other paper in sight. The landlord had gone somewhere else; possibly out on the deck, possibly looking over yesterday's salvage or pawing through the photographs they kept collecting. So I slowly eased the paper out of the slide, flipped it around, set the clean side facing me.
From the table-lamp I could see that there was still a blot. Very noticeable. But it was further down on the page, below where most people’s eyes normally were.
I pressed a key, and the respective letter made some sense. It was a 'b'. For Benoit, I thought. Or for Bereniche. Both were equally worthy of the honor of being immortalized in cephalopod ink and re-dried paper.
I pressed another key. This time an 'i'. Like I, who am narrating. As the professors taught me, to address the audience is to understand them, to take their opinion into account and bring them into whatever discussion a text may suggest or bring to the fore. It would never be so easy as that: there were so few who bothered to listen to my dissertation in its draft, and only a little more who stood around during the lecture itself when my opposing side fell asleep at their lectern like a foolish debater.
Only I could say I stood up waiting and working and being productive. Even when the fog came roiling over the rails and through the windows across my feet. And even when I took it upon myself to better myself by swimming out all those years ago to the island to make my arms stronger.
And Bereniche and Benoit swam after me, yelling I was too weak and too sick to even try. So I proved to them, even when they went quiet and slept as the saltwater lapped over their heads, that I could stay up waiting for them to return and for us to swim back home as friends.
But then the Ship came along. It only took me aboard, for some reason, told me that my brain was good and my body was bad. I had asked why Benoit and Bereniche were getting fucked over, left behind, but got only sad looks as they brought me to the professors and their little retinues for the first time. So that night I had stood at the foot of my bed and thought to write this down.