The Rubber Band Man

My window looks out on an endless field. The field goes off to the horizon in all directions. In the middle of this field is a large stone wall. There is no explanation for the wall. It has been there for as long as I can remember, and has that sense of permanence that suggests that it will always be there.

One morning I looked out the window and was surprised to find a man by the wall. Not only was he near the wall, but he seemed to be attached to it by what appeared to be a large band of rubber. The man just wandered around, never going to the full extent of the band. On his face was a look of dazed contentment. His wandering continued throughout the day, and I soon lost interets in the man.

The next morning the man was still there. And the next also. It soon became apparent that the man was going to be there for a while. Always he wandered with that look of simplistic pleasure. Rarely did he reach the full extent of the rubber band. I’d watch him for a period each day. As the days passed, I began to realize that the look on his face was changing. It no longer was a look of contentment. The look was becoming that of good natured acceptance. The man began to reach the extent of the band more often. But he still looked dazed.

This continued for some time. Then suddenly his attitude began to change again. Occasionally awareness would creep into his dulled eyes. It was like a flashlight in a dim room. In these moments of lucidity, the man would test the rubber band’s limits. He would stretch it to its full extent; he would test its strength. But always the flashlight would turn off, and the dullness would return.

The periods of brightness began to come more often. They also began to last longer. One morning I was awakened by the most primal of screams. I looked out the window to see that the awareness was back in the man’s eyes. But it was no longer a flashlight in a dim room. Instead it was a spotlight in the night. This time it did not seem the dullness would return.

With the new awareness the man also gained a new energy, almost a madness. Suddenly he would run at top speed to the full stretch of the rubber band, only to be flung violently back to the wall. He continued to do this, sometimes less forcefully, but never ending, as if he wished to escape. Sometimes, when he could no longer stand the beating he was taking, he would just collapse where he was. At these times, he seemed to be wearing a cloak of black despair, and the spotlight would almost go out. But always, whether a moment or days had passed, he would shake off the cloak, and the light would return.

I began to watch the man continuously. One clear night, with many a star in the sky, the man began to run as usual. But this time, when he reached the full extent of the rubber band, the band snapped. The man was flung forward. When he picked himself up he looked confused. Then he looked up at the sky and began to laugh. This laugh came from the deepest recesses of the soul. It filled me with elation. The man, still laughing, began to run for the horizon. My elation grew. My heart was beating rapidly. I could feel the breeze blowing through my hair. And still my elation grew.

The growing elation brought forth a realization that staggered me. The window I had been looking through for all this time,was after all not a window. The window in which I had witnessed such strange spectacles was not a window.

It was a mirror.