The Waiting Room by Jessie Berry-Porter

The Waiting Room [1]

Some thing is wrong.

What is wrong?

I read about the side effects but I don’t remember reading about this.

The side effects extend beyond the text.

I felt hopeful.

To read beyond the text is the primary function of the text.

I found a spider underneath my thumbnail today.

A side effect.

I was not aware of the ramifications.

There are plenty.

Of spiders?

Whatever it takes.

My fingers feel heavy.

It is heavy to see these things, lie down on the couch.

Do you mean the table?

Lie down on the table.

I fear osmosis.

Here, drink this.

What is this?

It is wine.

It is blue.


Do you mind if I smoke?

There are cigarettes inside your pocket.

Am I dying?

You have grown accustomed to feeling the outside from the inside.

I did not ask about the permeability of my skin.

I know. You have taken too much Avanza. You see spiders.

How do you know this?

Today you feel the outside from the outside.

This is a fantastical joke!

Reality acquires consistency through fantasy.

The punch line?

Waiting prepares one for liberation!

Too vague, and the spiders are multiplying. I told my arms to move thirteen seconds ago and they are only moving now.

A side effect. In reality, your arms have been moving this entire time.

How much time is an entire time?

Fifteen years.

And now?

They move in theory.

A conceptual discussion doesn’t interest me.

The spiders underneath your fingernails have always been there. The spiders ‘become’ when you look at them. Stop looking. Think of a rose garden. If you must look, look for flowers.

I am tired of talking in symbols!

Read beyond the text.

A spider is a spider because it is not a rose?

To see is to name. You understand.

Stop it. My skin is without body. I feel I could be the couch.

Maybe you are the table. Maybe you have always been the table.

I appear to be experiencing an internal dilemma.

You are a mirror without end. Try moving out of the doorway.

My hands are too heavy for this.

Would you like to see The Doctor now?

You are The Doctor?

I am not The Doctor.

Why am I here if you are not The Doctor?

You were sitting inside a waiting room. You cannot wait for no thing? Try to imagine a narrative arc.

I cannot imagine it.

You are imagining it now.

How do you suppose this?

Because you are here, and I am here.

And who are you?

I am waiting for The Doctor of course! The Doctor has been hoping you would call. She will be beside herself with joy!

You mean He will be beside himself?

No. I shall be The Doctor today.

I see.

Soon you will, yes.

This framework is unreliable.

It is of your doing. You asked to see me, now I am here?

How can it be my doing if I am unable to move?

You do in theory, and you wait in practice.

Are we discussing dream logic?

It is up to you. You are writing this story.

No, I am smoking a cigarette. How can I be writing if I am smoking?

You speak as if capable of doing either thing! If you are waiting, you are not doing. We just established this.

I need another cigarette.

You smoke only in theory.

How does one smoke in theory?

You are sitting at a desk writing about yourself smoking.

I see.

Only you are not writing. You are unconscious, dreaming of yourself as a writer.

I am not familiar with dream logic.

And yet, still, you are writing!

Without writing?

There is no difference if you believe you are writing. You are being written about because you believe you are writing about yourself. The Writer ‘becomes’ through writing. You have a voice because The Writer gave you a voice. You created The Writer to make yourself tangible. The Writer is a vessel! You are a product of that vessel! Capiche?

In a frantic dissociated state The Writer attempts to illustrate the tangibility of their reality. “You are mistaken,” she says, “Iamtwenty-threeIwatchCarlSaganeveryeveningIhaveanalmost boyfriendwhothinkshe’sStephenMalkmusmylittlesistercalledtodaytotellmeshefuckedherbossIIexperiencelifeviabenzoedfilterduetoviolentanxietyIwritenonfictionsometimespoetryIamnowwritingatcaféaboutthefirsttimeIoverdosedonantidepressants”.

Would you now like me to conduct a dream analysis?

“I overdosed eight years ago.”

Dream theory does not require a logical framework.

“Because time is relative?”

When waiting, yes. In reality, it has been sixteen minutes.

“But I remember waking in the hospital bed. I remember the charcoal purge tasting of miscarriage, the fluid drip, the vitamin infusions.”

To do anything when waiting does not negate the waiting.

“But I am not waiting for anything!”

You are between rooms. All things done Here are not done Here.

“If one is unaware of The Waiting Room, what does it matter?”

It doesn’t matter, but you wrote me into the story. It matters to you.

“Why write you in after eight years?”

Sixteen minutes. And nothing was guaranteed.

“Suppose I didn’t write you in?”

Death within the hour.

“But to me, one hour would feel like decades?”

Seventy-five years.

“And looking at my current life trajectory, I would have been fulfilled?”

In fantasy.

The Writer is now angry. The Writer shouts:



Are you finished?

“Are we talking in symbols?”

A spider is a spider because it is not a rose. Your fingernails are filled with spiders. Kill them. There is nothing beyond the symbol.

“I feel unaddressed.”

Yes, you feel addressed. You know what you need to do. Move beyond the text.

Sweat trickles down the bridge of The Writer’s nose, dipping into her mouth. She swallows, tasting miscarriage. “What then becomes of this document? What about the people who read this?”

It is an imagined audience. Those who read this text exist only in theory.

“My theory, or theirs?”

It’s all relative, if they do not know. 


jessie berry-porter writes non-fiction, poetry, non-fiction poetry and also other things. She spends too much time quitting caffeine and flower pressing. 

Photography by Paul Reynolds, a Dublin based photographer. He shoots mostly on film these days. Follow him on instagram @paulfedayn