A Parable

Søren or Holden on a Roof

Question: Should Holden Caulfield appear somewhere?

You are born in a theater and have never been outside. The building is condemned, but not to you, because as far as you’re concerned, home is like all buildings are supposed to stand. The walls are cracked; the roof leaks; mold expands in the corners. You have never seen the signs outside the entrance hung to warn about danger, and even if you had, the ink wore off.

You sit in a theater with a thousand children in cushioned seats. You are watching a very enjoyable movie on a giant screen. Buster Keating lights a lantern in the bright morning hours and loses his mind for a laughing crowd. He even sings. You eat popcorn. Even if you could read the signs outside, you would think they were a prank.

There is an exit below on the bottom floor. An attendant named Jacques stands there to open the door for whoever would like to leave. A teenager approaches, and Jacques tells them about what is on the other side. The teenager sits down on the floor, closes his eyes, and imagines what Jacques describes. Jacques relays in minutes what would have taken years to see.

From the seat next to you, your friend Søren tugs on your arm. You look at him. He tells you that there is a way to the roof. You never knew there was a roof. He stands up from his chair and, through the back, leaves the theater. You resume watching the movie but are distracted by the idea of there being a staircase. You are unhappy. You shake your head and follow Søren. It won’t take but a minute to address your curiosity and silence your brain before more Keating.

Søren is waiting for you in the hall, deadly serious. He takes your hand and leads you through a door you always looked at but never thought to open. Why didn’t you? You puzzle yourself. You ascend a staircase, and, at the top, Søren shoves the door open and you stumble onto a roof. The door suddenly closes. Søren is gone. The door is locked.

The sun is bright. You feel pain because of the dazzle and glitter and cannot discern objects. Your eyes adjust. You can make out the edge of a roof; you cannot see much else but hazy shapes. You approach the edge and look for a ladder. You do not see one. You can jump. You have never been high off the ground. You do not know how gravity works. You have always been inside.

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O.G. Rose

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