Randall stood before his bathroom mirror – gazing at the enormous, glistening dome that was his head. Creams, lotions, infused oils, battery-powered skull caps; he had deployed them all in his ... [+]
It Began With Bananas
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January 26, 1906
Forty-seven days have passed and the bananas in my kitchen are still green. They remain untouched and unmoved since I brought them home from market. To my eye they appear ordinary in all aspects. It is only their failure to ripen that makes them a curiosity.
I discussed the matter with Henry during our lunch today. He was not impressed by the phenomenon and advised me to simply discard the bananas.
Henry is anxious to settle upon a time and place for our wedding. I promised that I would give it consideration tonight but once again the bananas are foremost in my thoughts.
I have developed a theory that may account for their inability to ripen. Tomorrow I shall purchase several bunches of bananas and begin to put my hypothesis to the test.
February 17, 1906
If mother were alive, she would surely be appalled to see every surface in her beloved home covered with bananas. Father, on the other hand, indulged my every whim and would undoubtedly remain silent about the mess I have made.
The majority of the bananas are behaving in a manner consistent with what I have come to expect from bananas. However, and in accordance with my theory, the bananas within an area that is roughly forty-nine inches in diameter have failed to ripen.
It is my belief that within that small area time behaves in a way that is not customary. I have taken to calling this small area The Rabbit Hole as its bizarre properties bring to mind Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Henry complains that I spend too much time pondering bananas and not enough time addressing our wedding plans. He wishes to get married in New York City, but I have lived my entire life here in San Francisco and can think of no better place for us to exchange our vows. I believe Henry is persuadable on this point and I will work to change his mind when I have completed my experiments.
March 9, 1906
Fifteen days ago I replaced the bananas with begonias. Henry was a dear and carried them into the house without question or complaint. He is a fine man and will certainly make a dutiful husband. If the anomaly in my home were not so fascinating, I would marry him straightaway.
I have deprived the begonias of both water and sunlight. The flowers that are within The Rabbit Hole remain quite fragrant and beautiful. Those outside of that area have wilted and died. This not only supports my previous finding but also informs me that it is not necessary to nurture or feed that which is within The Rabbit Hole. I can think of no rational explanation for this oddity, but it clearly exists. Through further investigation I hope to discover its cause.
March 24, 1906
I have never understood the bond that often exists between otherwise reasonable people and their pets. In my experience only a horse is capable of appreciating and returning the affection she receives. However, over the last ten days I have come to enjoy the company of my canary. I still have not chosen a name for him. I considered "Albert" but that seemed inappropriately noble for an animal that is primarily a test subject.
The canary has replaced the begonias in The Rabbit Hole and I am subjecting him to a similar pattern of neglect. I have provided him with no food or water and yet I have witnessed in him no loss of vitality. Furthermore, though the canary is within The Rabbit Hole he is aware of and responsive to stimuli that are outside of its perimeter.
The swarthy gentleman at the pet store informed me that with proper care my canary could live as long as ten years. Within The Rabbit Hole, however, I imagine that his life could be endless.
Also, Henry terminated our engagement today. I cannot fault him for his waning affections. My preoccupation with The Rabbit Hole has left me little time to appreciate or encourage his advances. When I have finished my research I will pen for him a detailed explanation of my behavior.
March 30, 1906
I bought a coffin today. It is not as comfortable as I hoped it might be, but with certain modifications it will suffice. I also purchased several tools and pieces of hardware that are necessary for the next phase of my investigation.
April 5, 1906
I am surprised by the feeling of gratification I experience when performing tasks that one would never consider ladylike. If mother had witnessed me sawing wood, turning screws and hammering nails she would surely have sent me to an asylum.
April 17, 1906
My coffin is now a bed. The sight of it standing nearly upright in my home is somewhat macabre but that cannot be helped. The framing I have constructed is extremely strong and will keep my new bed within the perimeter of The Rabbit Hole. If I am correct, sleeping in my coffin every night will easily add an additional thirty years to my life.
I have never been so anxious to close my eyes and welcome sleep. If I am fortunate, I will dream of the many wonders that I may someday experience in the twenty-first century.
April 18, 1906
Something happened during the night. I am unharmed and in good health, but the world around me is barely recognizable. It appears that a severe calamity befell my home. I seem to be buried beneath both earth and debris. Fortunately, the supports I attached to my coffin held fast and, though I have been jostled, I am still within The Rabbit Hole's perimeter. I can comfortably remain here while I await rescue.
? ? ?
I am unsure of the day, the month or even the year of our Lord. I am clearly buried beneath the ruins of my home. Days, or maybe weeks, ago I could hear the faint voices of workmen above me. I cried out for help, but I fear my voice was unable to penetrate the wreckage that covers me.
The bulk of the workmen's conversation consisted of rather rude and ribald jokes regarding each other's sexual prowess; however, they became far soberer while discussing a recent earthquake that apparently caused the city considerable damage. In all likelihood, the disaster that battered San Francisco is also responsible for my current predicament.
Now, I must be rescued from immortality before I can return to the joy of living. I sincerely hope that some kind workman found and gave a home to my beloved canary. "Albert" would have been a perfectly suitable name for him.
I was utterly delighted and a bit freaked out when I read your story "It Began With Bananas" this evening after I received as print out of it from a machine in the Philadelphia train station. I started to read it aloud to my husband as we waited for our train to arrive and I had a strange, eerie feeling reading your first reference to " The Rabbit Hole". I immediately paused and said this is such a weird coincidence because it is like Alice in Wonderland. I was even more surprised to read the following words: " as its bizarre properties bring to mind Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." It felt like a message from my father Donald Rackin, who was a famous Lewis Carroll scholar. He passed away on November 23rd at the age of 89 after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. Shortly before he died he kept quoting a phrase which I finally figured out was from "Through the Looking Glass" and I had a very special experience reading him the chapter that it came from. Since he passed, I have been rereading my father's second scholarly book on Lewis Carroll. I have pushed two memorable buttons in the past few weeks. There are even more personal connections to your story, but I will not take the time to recount them.
I simply thought I should reach out to you in the off chance that you had either studied with my father (he was a beloved professor at Temple University) or may have been familiar with his scholarly work. I guess I am just curious to follow any signs that I receive from beyond…
No need to respond, but I am so grateful to have read your marvelous story. Thank you for writing it and putting it out into the world. I plan to share it with other friends and family members.