There, on the doorstep, the parcel appeared. To no avail, the courier had attempted delivery the previous day. No matter, Julius fiendishly snatched his property, stealthily locking the door behind him. As he opened the box, a tumultuous silence flooded his spacious one-room apartment.
Books and letters spilled out among the confetti packaging. Thin air, he was gasping, grasping at straws. Julius had never been much for opening letters; he clumsily tore off a corner and slide his index finger along the adhesive, sloppily ripping through the seal.
Already while reading, Julius considered the proper means of showing his awful gratitude. He felt utterly unable.
Weeks passed. He hoped the sender understood: ‘thank you’ was too trite; like at birth, lacking language, his means of expression were bare, limited to wails or a stare. His concerns, despite being absentmindedly entrenched in survival, seemed again only interested in understanding, understanding his world and, more minimally, himself.
He had slowly forgotten what it was to look in the mirror.
He examined the earliest pages of a $1.25 thrift edition Rilke correspondence collection that had traveled overseas. Himself, the seemingly ungrateful recipient.
“You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.”
Julius shifted his gaze from the page to his hands. The letter opener, index finger looked a little raw. Impossible. A double take. Perhaps my crude method of skinning letters is unhealthy, he thought. He wondered how the boy writing Rilke opened his correspondence. Hastily, he assured himself, without any concern for his fingers.
Inward, inward. His innards ached; life felt like a series of severances to him. Julius briefly yearned to meet himself in five years. He reconsidered. Five years wasn’t long enough; he would surely be disappointed. Ten years then, he consented. Okay, fifteen.