There is no light without darkness, no pleasure without pain, no heaven without hell, but there is always Nothing. If hell’s fires consumed themselves and the ashy remains couldn’t stand against the cool summer breeze, would heaven collapse in on itself? Would people recognise bliss without knowledge of sorrow? Not much is constant, not much can be relied upon, but there will always be numbness in this world. I believe that numbness is not just a state of being, but a physical place. I believe this because I have been there. I have been trapped there, and upon my release I have gone back freely, and it’s like when we were kids and you’d go to a party and then go home with a tiny bag of treats and gifts, like you could continue the party when you got home. Nothing, the place, was like that: you could take tiny pieces of it home with you, and stay numb for as long as you wanted. Except of course, Nothing is not a party. Nothing is a waiting room.

Nothing is not an extraordinary building (I suppose it wouldn’t be), large and made of white brick with glass sliding doors and no windows. Inside there is a plain desk, a receptionist who I’m sure wears glasses just so she can look down her nose at you, and several lines of chairs fixed to the wall and floor. I used to sit on those uncomfortable chairs, waiting as one does in waiting rooms, and imagine the yelling of people trying to fight the numbness, lifting these chairs above their heads and smashing them down on the ground. Sometimes I thought there must have been lots of incidents like that to make them fix every single chair down, but now I just think they did it in advance, knowing that it would happen, knowing that we were humans once, and that humanity would battle against sedation. Incidentally, I never had been one for battling. It seems a lot of effort just to fail.

Sometimes the white walls would swim in front of me, staring at them for so long in the bright white light that flooded the entire room made me see rainbow colours and static, like when the TV isn’t receiving the signal properly. My head would be filled with a low buzzing and the sounds of scratching: the receptionist’s pen across flimsy, yellowed paper, and the girl next to me absentmindedly dragging her ragged nails across the raw skin of her wrist. I wondered if she could feel it in this place of numbness. I bit down on my lip a lot, out of curiosity, to see if I could feel anything. Either I couldn’t or I didn’t care enough, and really what’s the difference?

I would walk away from that building clutching my party gift bag, my little bottle of pills: my prize. I have to emphasise that Numbness was not the goal; it was a process through which I could reach my paradise of contentment. I just got stuck. I got stuck for a long time, in a world where our minds give up, exhausted, and we inflict pain on our bodies just to make our minds react. When the pain is that casual, you take away hell, because hell becomes mundane, and without that hell, heaven collapses. And then what are you left with? Well, it’s like I said; there is one thing in the world that is reliably always there for us, and it is the purest form of numbness. Nothing.

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