Taylor Swift and the Wormhole
As with the wormhole, mostly I notice the absence. I notice the compliments that I used to receive and now don’t. I notice the hair I used to have and now don’t. I notice the water that I used to bathe in. Literally bathe in, a thought that feels ridiculous now. So much water that I could put it in a bowl and lie in the bowl of water and then let it all slide down the drain.
It wasn’t the heat. It’s hotter than it used to be, hotter than it was when I was crisscrossing the world in private planes (hotter than it was when planes still existed). But no, as it turned out, it was the universe collapsing. I don’t know what happened, exactly, because since then there haven’t been websites or newspapers or books. There’s just what I can put together from what’s still here.
As it turned out, it was the universe collapsing.
What’s here, now: a nest of foam and stuffing where I sleep. The actual fabric grew mold, ate itself, became rank. I pulled it off after a few years. The plastic thread innards have remained mostly intact. The recording equipment, laughably, survived fine. Parts of it rusted in the first few years from water leaking inside, but it doesn’t rain anymore. I made a small shrine to Olivia, who I ate after three months. To her credit, that was far later than the group who were in the recording studio with me. I killed them immediately. Some of their meat, preserved, is still left. Maybe enough for another seven or eight months.
All that―the meat, the jugs of water that I collected, the dried berries, the snack food that I’ve rationed―that’s in the corner. I was always neat, and that hasn’t changed. If anything, I’ve settled even more into myself. Maybe that’s just an inevitable byproduct of aging. Maybe it would’ve happened even if the world hadn’t folded into itself. Maybe not.
I made a small shrine to Olivia, who I ate after three months.
The byproduct of the folding winks at me from the corner. I don’t know that it’s a wormhole―I’m not a scientist. Maybe it’s a black hole, or some other astrological anomaly. I don’t know the difference. It’s just infinity in the corner, and I’d like to think there’s something on the other side. That’s what I think the difference is, at least―that on the other side of a wormhole, there’s more; and that there is no other side of a black hole. It’s a question mark in the corner, an ellipsis. What if . . . ?
There is a life here. If you forget what it was like before, you can call it that. There are the berries, the meat, the diaries that I recorded. I grew tired of narrating after the first year because it was just an endless loop (“Woke up, climbed out, looked for food, came inside during the hot afternoon, ate, slept, ate, slept.”). It no longer interested me, or made me feel better, or reminded me who I was. I’m still myself without the fans, still myself without listening to my own recorded voice, but I’m a different self.
The wormhole, for its part, remains the same. It’s waiting for me to become someone who steps into a wormhole to see if there’s anything on the side.
Instead, today, I ate my last granola bar.
Anna Schmitz lives in Minneapolis with her boyfriend and his tiny dog. She often says that she doesn't want any, and then eats half of yours off your plate.
Illustrated by Meghan Murphy.