I didn’t go outside.

Day came, and I said to my brain: “Brain, go stick your head above the parapet and see what reality is like.” My brain said: “Why don’t you do it?” and I said “I’m just not up to it this morning.” So my brain said “Fine, I’ll do it,” and went to take a look.

A few minutes later my brain returned. She reported:

“The world is made of fine, delicate china pieces. They are white with nature scenes or patterns painted on them in blue. Everything is smaller than we remember it, or else we have become larger. The people move according to a complex set of rules. They are only allowed to move in certain ways, and everyone’s moves are different, but it all comes together like a beautiful, choreographed dance. The people never crash into one-another, even when they bow and turn and do whirls and pirouettes. I don’t think we would be able to dance like that. I don’t think we would be able to remember all the rules. I don’t think we should go out there, we would be like a bull in a china shop.”

So we didn’t go out there, we stayed in our hideout instead. But some time later I asked my brain to stick her head above the parapet again and have another look. “Why should I do it?” my brain asked, “it’s your turn.” “I don’t feel up to it,” I replied, and we argued a bit and then my brain said “oh, fine,” and went to stick her head above the parapet to have a look outside. When she returned, she said:

“I saw a vast blue sea stretching into emptiness. Tiny ripples lapped against a chalky shore. The water surface was flat but covered with these little ripples that glittered and reflected the light. Our ship was anchored just a little way out from the shore, a great, sturdy vessel made from brown wood, with pale grey sails. The day was clear and warm but the light was cold somehow. Both the sea and sky were so-deep blue they were almost purple. And everything was very shiny, the ship, the rocks, the water, every surface glistened and reflected the light. Actually I think all of it was made of glass.”

“Glass?” I said doubtfully. “Everything was made of glass? Even the water?”

My brain reconsidered. “Actually I think it was just coated in glass. The boat, the sea, every little ripple, they all had a thin coating of glass. And the glass was very fragile, very brittle, you could tell that by the way it reflected the light. If you broke it it would shatter into thousands of tiny, almost-invisible, razor-sharp shards.”

“Did the ship have a name?” I asked.

“It was called the Coping Mechanism.”

“That’s an odd name for a ship,” I said.

“Yes,” my brain agreed.

“I don’t want to go out there,” I said.

“No,” my brain said, “I don’t either.”

So we hunkered down behind our high walls and waited. After a time I told my brain to go have another look, and my brain didn’t want to so we argued for a while, and then my brain relented. But no sooner had my brain stuck her head over the parapet than I heard a whoooosh and several rapid thunks, and she fell over backward, with several arrows sticking out of her.

“Are you OK?” I asked, shocked.

“What do you think?” my brain replied, sounding hurt and angry and scared all at once.

So I pulled the arrows out one by one and cleaned the wounds and covered them with clean bandages, and we settled down to wait for my brain to heal ourself. And after a while my brain did heal, and we felt OK, but we didn’t try to go outside again. And then you came for a visit and you asked me what I did today, and so that’s the answer to that.

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