The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Seventeen

Selections from The Coconut Ape by Tomáš Přidal
The First Day of School by Steven Schutzman
The Fever by Gleyvis Coro
Reflecting Dreams by Peter Roberts
A Meal by Anca Szilagyi
Minor Renovations by Sean Adams
The Clafouti Syndrome by Adam Benforado
The Train by Alta Ifland
Viewing by David Zerby


irreal (re)views


Minor Renovations
by Sean Adams

My place was feeling a bit small so I hired a contractor to come by and split my studio infinitesimally. Now instead of one room with everything in it, I've got infinite rooms with nothing in them. I can hear the phone ringing somewhere, but no matter how many tiny rooms I walk through I can never find it.


I'm starting to think that these renovations were a bad idea. I haven't seen a window in weeks. I have been cataloging all the rooms by what they have in them: room with recliner in the corner, room with coffee table, room with ball point pen on the floor, empty room one, empty room two, empty room three, empty room four, empty room five, empty room six, etc. (I had catalogued fourteen empty rooms when I realized that, given their lack of definitive features, I could be cataloging two empty rooms over and over. I thought about going back to the room with the ball point pen so I could use it to mark the empty rooms I've been in, but by taking the ball point pen out of that room I would simply make another empty room to catalogue.)


I've been trapped in my infinite apartment for either three weeks, five months, or seventeen years. I've lost track of time. I wander through the rooms, mostly empty, until I come to a room with a chair or a pillow. I call these comfort rooms. This is where I sleep. Sometimes it will seem like forever until I find a comfort room, and when I do I will collapse from exhaustion. Sometimes they will only be a few rooms away from each other, but I always sleep when I find a comfort room, because that's the rule I've made for myself.


I met my friend Greg in room with a potted plant on a small table. He hadn't heard from me in a while so he came over to see if I was OK. I asked him how long ago he had entered the apartment. He said three days or seven months ago. We exchanged stories about the rooms we had seen. He had seen rooms that I only dream of: room with fridge in it, room with window, room with CD player, and room with bed, probably the grandest comfort room of all. I really wanted to strike out together across the empty-room-tundra that my apartment had become, but Greg didn't understand my comfort room rule and, although he would not admit it, I sensed that he felt some animosity towards me for renovating my apartment in a way that would trap him in it for all of eternity.


I'm confused. Considering my apartment has been split into an infinite number of rooms, does this mean that, having walked through the door from empty room thirty-six thousand four-hundred twenty-eight into room with old Victorian lamp, if I were to turn around and walk back through the door, would the room I walked into be the same one I had just come from (empty room thirty-six thousand four-hundred twenty-eight) or would it be a new room (empty room thirty-six thousand four-hundred twenty-nine or room with object x)? The possibility of turning around and walking back through the door I had just entered and finding myself in another room scares me so I haven't tried it. The other question on my mind has to do with empty rooms versus stuff rooms. I understand that with an infinite number or rooms, there will be an infinite number of empty rooms, but will there also be an infinite number of stuff rooms too? Because, before the renovations, I did not have an infinite amount of stuff.


I made a monumental discovery. I found room with phone and answering machine. I had three-thousand two-hundred fourteen messages. I listened to them all. Many of them were from people I didn't remember anymore. A few were from Greg saying he was worried about me and that he was coming over. I would have liked to use the date and time recorded on the most recent message to figure out how long I had been trapped for, but I had forgotten how to read dates. This almost made me cry. I thought about trying to call the police or the fire department so they could find me and get me out, but I decided against it. Better not bring any more poor souls into my never-ending apartment.


I have a new goal, a new room I'm searching for, the final room. I call it the final room because it will be the final room I ever enter and it will be the final room I ever see. I will know it when I enter it. I will be overtaken by the urge to lie down and never get up and that is what I will do. I don't sleep in comfort rooms anymore; I simply take note of the comfortable object in it and continue forward, searching for the final room. I have fantasized about what it will hold; maybe a painting, maybe a shower, maybe a mirror (I forget what I look like), maybe it will be the mythical room with bed that Greg had spoken of. I won't be sure exactly what's in it until I'm in it. I just hope to God it's not an empty room.

Sean Adams has had poetry and prose featured in Right Hand Pointing, Verbsap, and Flashquake.

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