The Tralfamadorian’s Hall

(In remembrance of Kurt Vonnegut and my birthday)

The Tralfamadorian’s Hall

I walk. Forward, into the long, winding hallway. A light enters in from the end. Though enshrouded on all sides by darkness, I am able to find my way through this hallway, using only this light.

I am confused at my situation. I have designed all of this hallway; yet, I do not understand any of it. The hallway does not find its own way, it is my job to find the hallway’s sides and its floor and its roof. I can choose whatever way I wish in the hallway, and I can build its walls, I can draft it all. This hallway is of my planning and mine alone. So why can I not understand my own handiwork?

Throughout I rack my brains to find where I was and where I am going. Where is my motivation? What is the architectural form that I am using to draft this maze? Where is the single-minded goal of it all?

Here and there, the hall entangles. In parts, the walls seem to crumble, while in others they hold steady and fast. In making my walls and my roof and my floor, I on occasion find that I have crossed a hall which I made years ago. I break down the walls of the older hall, realize my mistake, and yet cannot simply walk down the same hallway I did so long ago. My only choice is to accept my mistake, continuing on the path I was already creating by tunneling through the next wall.

This is my situation now. It is an unusual situation. I most certainly cannot explore the older hall; I can only survey, as far as I can see, as far as the light will let me. Then I must continue to walk through this new path, hopefully to a better place, slowly winding my way down this pathway until eventually the hall will stop.

What happens next has always been of controversy for myself. What finishes this hall? Will I find a door leading to oblivion? Will I find my bedroom, for a final rest to the endless drafting and designing of this pathway? Or will I find a parlor, so that I may discuss with others the pressing matters of the day: how well their halls turned out, for example, or the parlor light that was so bright that it could enlighten even the most tangled and troubling of pathways. However, until then I must keep driving forward. All I know is, this hallway will eventually stop, and then I will find the final door.

Ah, yes, the final door. Oh, quite certainly I have found others. Four so far, in fact. I found one not too long ago, and it opened into another hall. All of them have opened to strange things. One–which I found after winding my way through myriad miles of hallway–opened into a small closet, which contained only a pedestal. Upon this pedestal I found a necklace, with only a pendant on the end. I wear this upon my neck. I do not know why. It simply has always been there.

I have found closet after closet, and the only thing I am sure of is that each will contain some small trinket. I take them and leave them as I see fit. Sometimes I sense that I am ready to take this or that trinket with me, and then I wind up placing it back on its pedestal, for some other person to stumble across.

As I look upon this older hall which has been crossed by the newer, I consider for a moment its length. It is so very long, like a winding, discarded mining tunnel. The light had disappeared from it long ago. I see now only transparent phantoms of an earlier hour, ghostly remnants of what I remember from so long ago. Yet in these phantoms I see life, and in one of these long winding phantoms I see color, a life among death. I do not understand why this one, of all these phantoms, has come to see me once more; he walks towards me.

I expect him to begin to ask me questions. I remember long ago that I had a plan for all this, and yet I have deviated from that plan so many times as to boggle my mind. I fear that he will begin to ask questions I cannot answer. Yet he does not. He merely nods, somehow understanding what he could not whenever he and I had built these earliest of walls.

Perhaps someday these phantoms will become real again. Alive. Until then, they are only phantoms. And even that one with life in his body and color in his face cannot escape the myriad passageways. What would they do? Could they ever join me in the final doorway? Can we the Tralfamadorian ever act as one?

As I pass this hall, I expect him to come with me, yet he does not. He stands still amidst the other phantoms, for how long I do not know. He only watches me as I pass down this hall, a row of ghostly phantoms trailing my every step, transforming me from one into many; a long centipede, winding his way down a long hall towards an uncertain end.

Tell me what you think!


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