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people forget how easily you can throw screams and hate, and how you’ll never feel kisses or hugs or whispers if you don’t let anyone close enough to touch you.

(vii. string theory)

Although people do not dance, they do move without stop. They are constantly rushing about. As everything in life now has become busier, everything is more complicated. Before I can even ask the Doctor if she might like to dance, she has hurried off to her next appointment.

It’s unfortunate, I believe. Today everyone is afraid that if they stop, even for a moment, they will be left behind. As people have drifted further apart, this fear has begun to live in between them. I’ll admit that fear has always been present in the world to some extent, but these days I often feel that fear is all that’s left holding the world together.

It’s strange to think about that. It’s hard to believe that before fear wasn’t as common. Actually, fear was once so scarce that it was almost precious. But the world changed when people began living in corners. Everyone now is as far apart and alone as they can make themselves. People used to be much closer to one another – do you remember? — and there simply wasn’t room for fear to grow. Back then the world was held together more gently. I suspect it was held together, maybe like a wind chime, with strings.

1.vii. string theory
vii. string theory
Imagine strings of every color and expression, tying together every little thing in the world.

The world must have been very different with strings. Imagine strings of every color and expression, tying together every little thing in the world. They would tie tinted loops around every tree and spire, between every rock and blade of grass. And surely the strings would hang down from the clouds, gently hugging the birds (who would be less willing to stray), and hold tightly to the ground.

Even more beautiful than this – than the strings that held up the world – must have been the strings in between people. Tightly wound and followed, I imagine there were strings that connected one head to another. Between every man and woman there must have been strings to keep hearts from floating apart. As long as there were strings to keep people together, they could wander without fear. Because really, how could you feel lonely if you were only a length away from your other?

At some point, however, people became interested in fear. The unknown always enchants us. Like any rare thing, people began to collect it. They kept it in bottles like perfume, and used it only on special occasions. Fear was quietly traded in handshakes and kisses. Its only use was for occasional amusement or thrills.

Like any modern fashion, it wasn’t long until fear was mass-produced. Soon everyone was wearing fear. Yet as more and more people started to use it, it began to feel different. Fear invaded the air like a new pollution. It reached everywhere. As the air became more and more polluted with fear, people moved further and further apart. People would flee secretly to some corner and open their bottle for the momentary thrill, alone and away from everyone. Eventually, to get further away, people were forced to untie their strings.

And today, the world quite terribly has lost its strings. Without anyone even noticing, all the strings were cut down. Today people try instead to connect to one another with wires and cords. But these are not true strings, they are not beautiful, and they can’t keep away fear. I suppose the only tie that still remains in the world is between mother and child – but even this final string we cut away quickly at birth. It is no wonder that babies enter the world crying because, after all, they are being untied at their most vulnerable moment.

All of this I am sure of because it is the only way to explain what people have always believed a mistake in creation. The lack of strings explains so much. This is why I hurt when strangers bump into me on the street. This is why their eyes prick me, even as they turn away. This is why hearts bleed. Because there no longer exist strings tied in between people, only the sharp hooks that used to hold them. And when we tug at one another, we always get blistered by the cold edges. It seems the only use in meeting people these days is to smell the other person’s fear. Fear has replaced the strings.

Even the Doctor is ridden with fear. She admits grave doubts I will get better without a delicate operation. I know she is afraid because she will not look me in the eyes when she talks about it. The most painful hooks, surely, remain in the eyes. In every gaze there is the scratch of freshly cut strings. This must be why people no longer look at each other, and why they meet only in fear.

It doesn't have to be this way. I know that if we stand together there will be no room for fear to grow. When the Doctor tells me she worries about me, I am sure I can rid her of this fear. I am fine, after all. I lift my hand to touch the Doctor’s face, to try and comfort her in her fear. But as my hand is about to reach her cheek, her body jerks instinctively away from me.

These stringless hooks cause so much trouble! Because of them, people today always react just like the Doctor. The unfortunate consequence is that people end up believing it best to keep others far away. They are sure that in this way they can never be hurt. But people forget how easily you can throw screams and hate, and how you’ll never feel kisses or hugs or whispers if you don’t let anyone close enough to touch you.

Reader, I want us to be friends, even if it is to be with no strings attached. Perhaps then it is best to caution you now for the future, especially if the Doctor succeeds in convincing me to go through with the operation. If I should ever turn away from your stare, if my body should involuntarily move away from yours, please do not be angry with me. You can tell me that I hold fear – I do, I know – but please don’t withdraw from me. I promise I will happily share my fear with you.

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