We see the room through a first-floor window of a large suburban house. We're not sitting in a neighbouring building, nor are we perched on a tree, but for the sake of smoothness we may be imagined as if we were, if it is helpful at all. The room into which we peek is at the moment empty. It is twice as wide as it is deep, symmetrical, with two doors leading in and out of it - one is on the left-hand side of the room, the other on the wall to our right. As a result, the room has a corridorish feeling to it: because it can be passed through, without being a proper destination. The window is opened wide. In a minute, if we position ourselves at an appropriate angle, we may observe the door on the right opening: a man in his twenties enters and halts just beyond the low, symbolic threshold.
Indeed, Edward enters the room from the right. For a fleeting moment he stops and contemplates what he should do next, and it is an important decision, because he believes in the principle of not idling his day away. He scratches his chin thoughtfully as his eyes scan the room for inspiration. When they fall on the desk - on the writing utensils he keeps in an old mug, to be precise - he makes up his mind and moves towards it.
That desk stands exactly halfway between the doors, shifted towards the back wall (but not quite touching it). When Edward has taken seat on the complementary office chair, he sits with his back to us, his spine as straight as that of a pianist. From a drawer near his left knee he extracts a large hardcover notebook, his diary, in which he writes every second line to avoid the appearance of density and congestion.
Inches from Edward's forehead is a bookshelf, laden with volumes of all thicknesses and colours, two rows running parallel across the wall. Somehow the structure feels oppressive in its hugeness, and whenever Edward lifts his eyes from what occupies him at the time - be it reading or writing - he is irritated by the shortage of space around his head. It could be an early indication of claustrophobia; on the other hand, we must not take our little deviations and whimsies so seriously, or we would run the risk of going mad immediately. Edward himself has grown rather accustomed to the deficiencies of the room - even if not fully accepting - because it has been his since childhood. He sleeps there, he conducts most of his daily life there, and he has had since times immemorial. At present he chooses his favourite pen from the brown mug on the edge of the desk (it contains crayons, rulers, pencils, a calliper and a paper knife). But then, after a moment's hesitation, he puts the pen back, and gets up to his feet instead.
Apparently, the draught from the opened window, or the hubbub of the birds outside (or from occasional cars) have disturbed Edward's concentration, because he walks towards us. There is a bed below the window sill - invisible from our perspective, but doubtlessly existing - and Edward places one knee on its soft mattress to support himself as he leans forward and shuts the window with emphasis. Our vision does not suffer badly from this development, but our hearing does, and suddenly we appreciate all the beautiful summer days spent indoors in lip-reading classes. As long as Edward keeps his face to the window, we will know what he says. Emotions, too, can be easily inferred from facial expressions and gestures. And thoughts - thoughts are too powerful to be stopped by a mere pane of glass.
So far, we encounter no difficulties. Edward slides off the bed, and out of sheer pedantry he smoothens the corners of his dishevelled bedcover. He is patting all the rough surfaces back to their original shape, when without a warning the door on the left is kicked open and another man comes in. He has a slightly boyish demeanour.
"Hi, Ed!" the new arrival seems to exclaim on entering. "Just out of bed? You're getting lazy, falling behind, huh?"
He must be Edward's blood relation for the similarity between them is, if not unquestionable, then at least much greater than coincidence. But it seems that Edward doesn't want to look at his relative, preferring to stare blankly out of the window. The other one stands behind, speaking past Edward and out of the window as well, so we can follow the conversation easefully.
"You should have knocked," Edward complains, stealing a sideways glance at his interlocutor. "It's not a big deal, is it? Your knuckles may be delicate, but not that delicate, I'd think. And I would feel less as if living in a corridor, huh?"
"Sorry, I've forgotten. Thought you'd be long awake by now."
"I am, Chris," Edward snaps impatiently. "That's not the issue. I just want you to knock. It's not the first time I've told you."
"What with the bed, then?" Christopher asks, whereupon Edward purses his lips and goes slightly red. "Ah, you've been closing the window, huh? Shouldn't have, it's stifling in here. You're a grown-up man, Ed. For our safety's sake your odour mustn't be concentrated in one place."
"Says who? I don't remember inviting you in."
"What about mum, don't you care about mum?" Christopher says, his brows shooting up in a jocular kind of way. But Edward doesn't catch the joke. He turns his head abruptly, says something without giving it due thought beforehand, and we can only observe the reflection of his words on Christopher's face - how it upsets him. "Anyway," he says sourly, "mum calls to breakfast."
"Okay. Be there in a minute," Edward murmurs, more to himself than to anyone, and Christopher takes his leave through the left-hand-side door. Edward lingers motionless, his arms sagging awkwardly near his hips. He'd place them on the window sill, his elbows, but he doesn't want to touch his bed, and so he gazes out of the window, standing a good few feet away from it. He's looking - looking at us - with some sad intensity. It fills our hearts unhappily with the shadow of the forthcoming doom. Then (because he has given a promise), he wakes up with a start and exits through the door on the right.
Here we are bestowed with several minutes of quietude, reserved for the profoundest reflection.
When those have ceased to be, Edward re-enters the room - just as he did at the very beginning - and he lingers at the doorstep again, deliberating what to do now. Presently, his eyes fall on the diary lying open on the desk. Ed looks baffled, indignant, he puffs and shivers. Looming ominously over the precious book he checks at what page it is opened; he skims through the adjacent pages. Having read sufficiently, he smashes his palm on the surface of the desk (his hand must be burning now), presumably shouting something at the same time, but we can't know for sure.
The door on the left is violently opened, and in falls Christopher.
"Hi, Ed!" he says.
We don't see what response he receives.
"What? I haven't."
Edward detaches himself from the desk, giving us a clear view on his left profile. "Fuck, Chris. And I've told you to knock God knows how many times."
"I haven't touched your diary," Christopher mouths, with what we imagine must be defensiveness of a kind.
Edward's lips are as still as a tiger before pouncing.
"You could use some fresh air, huh? It smells in here," Christopher proposes, affecting light-heartedness. He throws himself with both knees on Edward's bed and reopens the window. For us this mundane act is a full-blown miracle: quite miraculously our hearing is restored.
As a result, Edward's heavy breathing is now audible to us. He has returned to the earlier, ominous stance over the diary. With the bookshelf beyond his head he looks like a warrior meditating at an altar before taking up a fight. He mustn't be disturbed in this. Except for breathing and emotions, Edward emits no sounds.
"I'm sorry, Ed, but I really don't get your meaning." Silence. "Anyway, mum calls to breakfast. Scrambled eggs today."
After a few seconds' suspense Edward nods, which Christopher takes for a good sign. With a clear conscience he departs to the dining room (through the door on the left).
But Edward doesn't show excessive enthusiasm for scrambled eggs. For the interval of forty-five seconds he remains frozen in his belligerent pose over the diary. In the meanwhile, the unspent atoms of movement have accumulated in his body. Finally they burst at two separate places: through the mouth by means of an impossible battle cry, and through his fist, which flew up and hammered down again; by accident the brown mug with writing tools is overturned; it drops down, breaks into three large pieces, clatters; its contents have fallen out and spread all over the bare wooden tiles.
But Edward does not contemplate this havoc. He goes out through the door on the right and shuts it behind himself with a loud bang.
Here again our having paid attention is gratified with several minutes in which we can slowly digest and think. But Edward is already at the door, waiting to enter, so we must not take too much leisure. He's rather stressed, there, on the other side of the door. It is as if he's just had a bad dream: it's made him feel on edge since he woke up, but he doesn't realise this. He is ill-tempered, he knows it, but he can't imagine the cause.
However, the signal is given at last: he is free to enter; he enters.
Now he has a reason for his distemper.
"Fuck? Chris! What the fuck have you done?" There is disbelief mixed in his tone of voice; otherwise, he wouldn't know what to say. "Chris!"
Christopher peeks his head anxiously through the door on the left. "What's up, Ed?" he asks. "What's this mess?"
"Yes, what is it? Dammit, Chris!" In a flash Edward leaps forward; he pulls his his brother deeper into the room, presses him against the wall in a frightening chokehold.
"But it wasn't me!" Christopher whines.
"We don't have a cat, moron."
"Could have jumped in through the window. From the tree or something."
Edward loosens his grip progressively, eventually releasing his hostage. But the listing of complaints continues as he roams the room and gesticulates. He indicates the opened diary. "Cats read diaries, in your opinion, huh? No. You've never respected my privacy, Chris. You never knock, though goodness knows how many times I've asked you to. You've fucked up my bed - okay. You've destroyed my mug - I liked it, but I won't die. But the diary? How dare you spy on my innermost thoughts?"
"I haven't done a thing," Christopher protests.
"Oh shut up. It is fairly obvious that you dislike me - no reason why you shouldn't, in fact. It works both ways. Only why can't you leave me alone? You have to ruin everything, huh? You have to know how and what I think. Why so curious?"
"I don't," Christopher denies - whichever accusation.
"Maybe you should. Perhaps that would settle it. Incidentally, it is an interesting entry," Edward says, running his finger through the lines of his diary. "I remember my exact feelings when writing it."
By now Christopher is a little panicked; but defiant too, as a younger brother should. "Mum calls to breakfast, by the way," he says. "If you can bear our company, asshole."
"Dear diary," Edward goes on, "Christopher has just proved to be such a pussy it goes straight over my head. His first girlfriend dumped him after a month, which is quite an achievement anyway. Truth be told, she didn't have much use of him, who only sighed and looked at her dreamily. And now he acts surprised. Can't really talk to him about anything. Mum pampers him as she would an infant. Pampers his masculinity, that's a nice phrase. Next time we have a breakfast together I won't be surprised if she has to mouth-feed him, in the sorry state he's in."
Whether or not the end of the excerpt has been reached, Edward has to break off - because Christopher jumps on his back from behind. Trying to strangle his enemy's throat, he propels Edward's head straight into the heavy bookshelf. Four uncoordinated arms cut the air blindly for a while, until the books start falling out. The men collapse under the avalanche and under each other's weights.
On the floor the scuffle is resumed. Fighting for breath in an unfavourable position Edward gropes with his one free hand for something, for anything. He feels a sharp object with his fingertips, be it a piece of his brown mug or the paper knife. He cuts his thumb on it, actually. He grabs it, and because the whole situation has got out of hand - because he receives one punch too many - he thrusts forward the sharp object (a piece of mug, as it turns out) in his defence.
The scene ends with Edward running out through the door on the left, stricken by momentary madness and despairing with panic. His shirt - when we saw it for a blink of an eye - bore bloody marks in the shape of a hand; and when the door has closed, we see that the doorknob bears them, too.
As soon as the door on the left has been closed, the one on the right is opened. In steps Edward to the sight of irreversible mayhem. He doesn't know - what's happened; what to do; whether or not there is a loving God watching over him. Indeed, he is like a fly bumping inside a closed jar; only his emotions are such as would tear ten thousand flies to pieces; explode them, bespattering the world with sickness. He doesn't touch the body.
There is too much blood, he doesn't touch the body. Perhaps he ought to have tried to stop the bleeding, but someone has to be called, first of all. The ambulance. Mum. Edward runs out through the door on the left, crying for help.
The door on the right opens again, then shuts; then the door on the left opens - and shuts. The door on the right is opened, shut and opened. Christopher loses all of his blood, but the loop doesn't break. By and by, we lose our interest. We climb down the tree, or wherever we've been sitting, somewhat disappointed. We walk away down a long suburban street. For fun we may try to maintain our balance on the edge of the pavement. And the loop continues; we can still hear the wailing.