"Brandon and Finn" Files:
January - July 2019
I don't sleep through the night anymore. I wander. I don't know where. Brandon doesn't know I leave. Brandon doesn't know much about me. No one is here. It's dark. I hear the birds, the wind in the trees, the lull of the moving earth. Will I always be alone? Will I stay hidden in the dirt?
Hey Finn. Don't forget you were going to get some jam. I prefer blackberry, but I'm sure we can share whatever you find.
Sent 2:52 pm
Hey Brandon. I did get blackberry jam. I did eat the entire jar. I'm sorry. I will wash out the jar and we can reuse it for whatever you want. Or we can try making a jam. At the least, it's my turn to go shopping next.
Sent 3:15 pm
The party next door is over, or at least the music is. Please check on them. If you don't find anyone, just come home, Brandon. Thanks.
Sent 1:45 AM
How did my shoes get so dirty?
Clock is broken in the living room.
Oh no I know
I like this shirt. I like its stretch, its hug around the shoulders. Too much, though. I like shirts like this too much. It folds and never unfolds. It pulls and eats itself thin. I'm sorry, shirt. Pajamas for you. B
I slide around in the kitchen in socks. I hear a thud. I see my foot touching the cabinet. I guess I hit my toe? I kick the cabinet. Nothing. I must need coffee.
The floor. The walls. Everything shakes. Nothing stays still. Only tighter. Only clockwise. I can see it.
I write so I can remember. I don't remember anything from today. Not what I eat. Not when I see Brandon. Not the moving tree branches. Nothing.
Does my door usually wobble on its own? The door feels like iron and I can touch it fine. But nothing stays put. Or it doesn't stay in the same place at once.
I try opening the door. It moves out of place. I cannot reach it.
I yell. Brandon is gone again.
I wonder, often, if I have lived too long. If on the other side of the moment I am in there is a blank expanse I can't fill, if I am truly, disastrously unfit. For life, I mean. I understand the work is never done. I worry the expanse will never fill. No one will come. There is no place for me. An artifact. A sign of already finished. A tree that will eat every wall.
Nothing will stay put after all.
No one is there today... no one signed up for the apartment service project this morning. Finn and I go just so someone is there.
We cut out the old bougainvillea. Chew through the rotting trellises. I hold them steady and upright. Finn cuts the base so it stays together. Let them fall onto a tarp. Watch the caterpillars scatter. Wrap the old wood pieces up and drag them to the trash. Admire the petals. Deal with the thorns. Say nothing else about the thorns. The rest of the plant is too damaged for another season. Fill the holes.
We make new trellises. Cut the wood pieces to size. Screw them together. Dig new holes to match the new size trellises. Paint the wood. Plant new vines. Bring the caterpillars back.
The two of us are done before the morning gets too warm.
Where am I?
Why am I here?
Why am I on the couch?
momen t [sic] folded in onto itself
now i am here
next who knows?
time for bed
just have to get there
Does Finn hear the scratching at the walls?
I write because I cannot wake him up.
I cannot wake him up because I write.
[Note: this file is corrupted and we cannot read it. We thank Oliver again for his work on the collection. This file is in email format, but our inbox has no record of this email.]
From: [Brandon's email address]
To: Box Elder Public Library Staff
Subject: community history question
I'm a regular patron of the library. I visited this morning and just wanted to say that I had a wonderful experience. I know you really like feedback, and I hope that doesn't change. I had a bit of nausea, and the librarian (forgive me, I don't remember his name) directed me to the bathroom. He made sure no one noticed us. He checked on me later, which was so thoughtful of him. He was a little pale when I left but I felt so much better.
I still have that bookmark he gave me. I can't quite tell what it's supposed to look like. A leaf of some sort, with stripes? I guess that's the real question I'm asking. And just saying thanks.
Brandon [last name]
[Note: I guess I'm here, too. Back when we were open, I gave out bookmarks all the time. I was never sure anyone liked them. Just a cheap plastic strip. More like a feather than a leaf. And I did find this email in our inbox. Maybe it's another file that is unreadable?]
I remember the conversation with Finn from before dinner.
I tell Finn I haven't sneezed yet. Nothing even tickles my nose.
"Oh. Sorry." He looks like there's something he can't quite recognize.
Then I sneeze.
"I get so confused."
"Not just sneezing. The fridge light is out."
You're confused that the fridge light is out?
"No. You just want a snack."
My stomach rumbles. I open the fridge. The light is out.
Let me remember this, Brandon.
I'm out, wandering. So is this college student. He's looking for something exciting to do before the semester starts and he's stuck back home.
I'm not sure where he is from that this place isn't stuck, but I don't ask. I suggest the mountain twenty miles or so outside town.
He agrees with me, but changes his mind. He talks about something else.
"Have you seen that sinkhole by the water tower? I wonder what it could mean. But I shouldn't worry about something like that. Water doesn't go anywhere. I mean, I get water from the sink and all whenever I need it. Those holes come from salt and limestone, right? Maybe they're good for a drink after all. Too bad it's on the opposite end of town from the tavern. I could go for some tacos. And a drink of some sort."
Brandon asks why I'm back here. I don't know I'm back here yet.
I wonder what the student's point is.
"I can turn on the air conditioning if it's too hot out."
You aren't making sense.
"Sinkholes don't make sense. They just collapse and wash away whatever they can. And I don't have time for your bad mood." He turns away and walks. I grab his shoulder.
But they don't come out of nowhere.
He turns back to me, forward again. "Oh hi. Was I talking to you?"
His eyes go wide. "Air conditioning. Thanks. I'll find that mountain, I guess. See you later, maybe?"
And he's gone.
Brandon, I know I can't help myself.
[Note: Staff has tried to identify the "college student" Finn mentions but were unsuccessful.]
I'm hungry. Our fridge is empty. Brandon is out getting groceries. I can't leave. I'll have to ration out some ramen or something.
Sorry, Finn. That loud bang was me. I hit my hip on the counter again. I'll stay quiet. Go back to sleep.
Sent 2:02 AM
Finn knows my clumsiness. I'm loud.
I move with the door frames. I collide with empty tables. I collapse couch cushions. I'm alive anyway. Sorry if I don't talk about anyone else's appearance, but everyone's body does what we need from them. That's all.
I'm used to apologizing for my body, so strange to me so often. It's never a bad body but never quite what I expect and never as far as I pretend. I'm big. I know.
That's not what worries me.
Tyler gets close. I... I don't move away. He walks right through me. I'm dizzy.
He's not in front of me anymore? Where is he?
I'm here. Tyler is behind me, out of the kitchen. Nothing hurts as much as I expect.
Hey Finn, when there's a spooky noise outside at this time of night, maybe don't go looking for what it is. Maybe just stay put. I know how you are, but come on. You're supposed to be the clever one.
Sent 2:01 AM
Sorry, Finn. I can't go out tonight. I feel really crummy. Can't figure out why. I feel like I'm forgetting something.
Thanks for picking up takeout. Hopefully you didn't have to stop for a train on the way out. Maybe we can go check that out tomorrow, if I'm feeling better?
Sent 1:45 PM
[Note: This is unlikely. The train stop is outside of town, once for copper shipments from a mine the next town over, now in occasional use by the lumber office. Tourist and residential use of the rail in the county declined in the 1970s and never recovered. Too few people circled back into town. The train schedule suggests that there were no shipments that day.]
WILDLIFE SAFETY BULLETIN
July 16, 2019
Possible Bear Sighting Near Sapdales School
Attention Box Elder residents:
Teachers at Sapdales Middle School have reported possible bear sightings near campus. The comments come from potential near encounters from students starting last Thursday, July 11th. Multiple students from different grades describe seeing a large bear over twelve feet tall close to the playground. Due to the delay in verification from school administration, the bear does not appear to be an immediate safety concern. Please remain vigilant, especially because this is much earlier than the expected start of bear season on August 9th.
We ask all Box Elder residents to maintain about 100 feet away from large animals, especially if they are close to a residential area.
Principal [redacted] asks the Wildlife Safety Department to note that the school's upcoming game night will be rescheduled.
The Wildlife Office will update this bulletin if there are any updates.
WILDLIFE SAFETY BULLETIN
July 16, 2019
Sapdales Middle School Programming Board presents:
Put together a puzzle!
This activity is a take-home version of an activity from our recently postponed game night. We hope it will be fun for the whole family. (ages 10+)
You will need:
the included box of puzzle pieces (50 count)
1. Open the box and spill all the pieces out onto the table.
2. Match pieces based on size, shape, color and pattern. Ask for help from your parent or guardian if you get stuck!
3. Most importantly, have fun!
[handwritten note: can be done solo]
Finn, I spilled crackers on the floor. Don't come in. You'll step on them. It'll make a bigger mess. Please don't see this. See what you want. Don't see this.
Sent 3:22 PM
Brandon and I walk through each other. In front—behind—through. Me, through him? Or him, through me?
This is what we'll do, Brandon. We can just figure out who's getting groceries next. We check in with each other. We make sure everything gets done. And we don't worry about anything else. Okay?
Sent 12:56 PM
I don't know what to say. I say a mess. The neighbors. I know I am supposed to help them. Supposed to want to help them. I kind of don't? I kind of don't want to help them? I kind of want them to fuck off. Not come in. Not knock on the door. Not fill an apartment with their problems.
Moving in. I should tell Brandon. Do I even want to tell Brandon?
Finn doesn't tell me any of the fun stuff. We have new neighbors! I hope we get to meet them soon.