Solipsism, or Beth’s Struggles and Responses


The next day I told my friend from work Jerry about William. We were sitting in the office kitchen, and he told me that in his opinion solipsism is just a joke, that no one really believes it, and that I should just forget it.

“How?” I took a sip of my coffee.

“He just wanted to come off as ‘enigmatic’ or ‘cool.’ I mean, he didn’t say that was rude, right?”

“How would that not qualify as one of the more insulting things you could say to someone.”

“Wait though. Think about the way you described him and his presence. Like no one noticed him or whatever.”

He stirred his coffee and squinted his eyes slightly, then smiled.

“Maybe he’s the real deal and wouldn’t see it as rude. You can see it, yeah? I can kind of understand why he’d be like that. The lone solipsist.”

“That sounds redundant, but whatever.”

“I gotta go. Seriously, though.” He stood up and walked to the door. After leaving, he turned around and leaned for a second into the room, his shoulder pressing against the woodwork around the doorway. “How does it affect you though? I mean, you’ll probably never see that guy again, so what’s the point in getting all upset?”

A couple people came in and out of the kitchen after that, but I didn’t talk to them and they didn’t talk to me. I just sat watching the walls stay the same color and listening to the microwave beep every once in a while. The scents from frozen foods and popcorn clashed in the air. The refrigerator occasionally went into overdrive, made loud noises to let whoever know. My lunch break went for two hours before I headed back to my cubicle.

On my walk home every person I passed looked like William. I stopped outside that house I saw him go into — the sunshine revealed its character. The screens were ripped, some were barely connected to their frame; the door was slightly ajar and had the outlines of two triangles, side by side, one pointed up and one pointed down, black painted shapes hanging in front on the white door, emphasizing their sharp points and lines.

I went over to the door, looked around to see if anyone were watching me and reached to take one down. They were only six or seven inches, so it fit into my bag. I left the one that pointed down. The negative half of the quadrilateral, a broken parallelogram.

When I made it back to my house, I stood it up on my kitchen table. I painted the triangle white and planned to replace it the next day. The windows were slightly open, and air breezed through my living room. The white triangle pointed up to my ceiling from the floor of my living room, while I sat in front of it, or behind it, crosslegged, wondering what his response to this act of petty theft probably was. Occasional bursts of wind buzzed lightly through my blinds, vibrating them almost.

Focusing on the stolen property in front of me, my eyes began crossing and closing. I struggled to keep them open, but I didn’t want to sit straight up. A shadow moved across the wall in front of me once or twice. The wind continued to call out, using my blinds as a voice box. The triangle was lifted up off the floor, and the shadow pulled it through the window.

I leapt to my feet and grabbed the line opposite its point. Planting my feet on the ground, leaning back with all my weight, I reached further out and gripped the point of the triangle before falling backwards onto the couch. The point cut my sinister palm. There was a banging on my door, but I just lay back on the couch and clutched the shape to my chest, its point just under my chin. The banging continued; a small drop of my blood had hit the white rug. As I turned and saw it through closing eyelids, my pain subsided. The wind ceased its futile attempts to communicate. When woke up the next day, a piece of paper with a triangle pointing upwards drawn on it hung on my door.

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