Almost no sleep going on three nights. Old apartment mostly empty; new apartment filling up. Heart doing the same: emptying, filling, emptying, filling. I am all tapped out from publishing the scariest essay I ever wrote.
Do you ever feel empty inside? The hypnotherapist asked me that on our first meeting, when he learned the purpose of my visit and gave me some assessments.
Yes, I said.
I feel that emptiness right now, too, but it is a different kind of empty. The empty that comes after a taste of feeling full. Empty that contains a memory of its opposite–a particle, in the Lucretius sense. Or maybe a seed, also in the Lucretius sense. I know now that I do not have to fill myself up ex nihilo. Deep inside, there was always a seed, and it is still there, waiting, and always will be. It is evident, Lucretius taught, that a definite and permanent limit to the process of destruction has been established , since we observe that each thing is renewed …
It is 5:48 AM. I am doing my hypnotherapy homework, surrounded by legal documents, hospital charts, photographs, elementary school papers, old notebooks, and calendars. I am writing the master timeline, the one that is supposed to rattle my rib cage, to burn up my heart enough to finally talk about shit like it happened to me and not someone else.
Maybe it’s the insomnia, but as I work, I keep hearing voices on separate tracks, talking over and under one another:
The hypnotist, tinkering inside my brain as I sink deeper and deeper into the reclining chair. Over and over, he says, Open yourself to magical material continuity ink, perfect viscosity, perfect color, perfect texture–phrases he got from me, when I spilled it about my home-brewed inks and Deseret Alphabet translations, how I am forging the plea deal my brother should have made.
Lucretius, warning that time has no independent existence.
And the forensic document examiner famous for cracking the Hofmann case, who sat with me in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for far longer than our appointed couple of hours, teaching me how faith and forensics are intertwined, never once realizing how deep I was in my own crisis of faith at that moment, how I had lost all faith in forensic science as a method and metaphor for understanding the world. At one point, he asked, What do you think about someone who loses faith because of a letter? He meant the Salamander Letter, but now, as I sort through documents, noting dates, examining clashes between memory and record, I hear him and know, really know, what he meant.