uncertain cities

words and sequences of them by Rhett Davis


One had the feeling in those days that you had to be someone. Being someone was difficult, particularly when everyone else was trying to be someone. Being someone, he decided, required many other people believe that you were, in fact, someone. Your own opinion of yourself was largely irrelevant. To get people to believe you were someone required a great magic trick to be performed. It was possible, for example, to be someone when you were dead. Sometimes, you were no one when you were alive but someone after you had died. You could be someone for a few minutes, or a few days, and then become no one again immediately after, for the rest of your life. Sometimes, if you pretended you were someone hard enough, for long enough, and told enough people about it, you would, in fact, become someone. It was possible to become someone entirely accidentally, by falling off a roof, for example; or by singing particularly badly while being filmed by your brother in secret; or by being a carpenter, hired to fix a film prop, whom the director believes looks better suited to the role of the pirate king than the weak, temperamental someone-soon-to-be-no-one he is currently working with.