The semantic conspiracy

Submitted into Contest #130 in response to: Set your story in a nameless world.... view prompt

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Drama Speculative Romance

I was in line waiting for my turn to pay my bill and there was this pair of people spamming the air with doubt and some crippled anger. They had bodies and their eyes were ignoring everything around them. Arguing is how people described what was happening. From the way the bank clerk felt that pair was more important than my bills, I supposed they were doing something that could put at risk the peace of the place. There wasn’t any physical action between them though, but somehow everyone was interested to hear their voices while trying to master the art of seeming interested in other stuff.

It made me think about words. Words – they are everywhere: impressed in my bills, coming from people’s mouths, hitting our ears. It’s so disrespectful. There is always someone trying to impose something for us to read or hear. Or feel. Demanding words to be felt – there’s no greater arrogance.  

How dare anyone have the pretension to reach us by imposing us to hear some random combination of mnemonic signs? Whoever is the person who created words certainly didn’t have full knowledge and/or control of their own feelings so who were they to think they could reduce a feeling to something so stanched such as a word? This person is probably laughing at all of us now. This person didn’t know what was doing and neither do we when we use words to communicate. 

What if it is all a big conspiracy? What if words are codes and those who created the code gave us wrong explanations about how to use them? Is this the reason why nobody understands no one? Is this the reason why we fight so much? Is this the reason why no one is never fully understood no matter how hard we try to explain what we feel? 

We are such idiots. Making the effort of opening our mouths and sending out sounds with our voices trying to explain stuff. Writing messages. Putting words to music. Reading books – how naive!

It’s all a huge fooling game. Someone created words they had no idea how to use, and someone even more stupid created semantics to organize them in order for them to make sense. But how can it make any sense for anyone if it made sense for one person before anyone else? Does it all make any sense? Codes over codes over codes? 

And of course, someone decided anyone could create their own way to manage those codes. And then languages were born, and slang, and poetry. New codes over ancient codes. This fool, which I’ll call the prime creator (fancy words to describe a fool, huh?), wanted us to understand their words and use them to make ourselves understandable to others. You jerk, so you think you can solve communication problems with some stupid sounds, don’t you? Then solve that: this time of the year, two years ago, I said to B: “Wish you the best”; and what B heard me saying was: “Get out of my life”. I never heard of B again. Now solve that!

I gave up trying to be understood a long time ago.

The truth is: nobody in the history of communication was ever understood. No feeling has ever been honestly explained. Words are illusions of communication. They carry the energy of the ones who created them. And we’ve been spreading those energies like fools through the centuries and no one really knows what they’re doing and no one really understands what is being said or heard. 

Whoever started it is a jerk and I blame them for the wars, for all the broken dreams, and for this incident at the bank, and for all the times I thought me and B were a real thing.

* * *

I remember I once told B – in a diligent try to sound seductive while I diligently tried to be sincere at the same time I was trying to hide how much I was obsessed with getting to know and understand B – that B was like a giant puzzle I wanted to put together. But now – and here’s what’s funny about this situation – I see that while trying to make all the pieces of B make sense to me, I was creating a whole new puzzle between B and me. The pieces of what we had (I can’t even call it a relationship). 

I loved B. I really do. And I felt loved by B. I only hate the way B always left in the air that our love was real enough to connect us in a way that would never need any explanation. So organic that it would never need words. It probably really didn’t, but then why didn’t B say it? 

“What’s understood doesn’t have to be explained”. But what was it that was understood? I never really knew. I wonder if B’s way to act as if words are not needed was just a way for B to control me. Almost as manipulating as the game of using words. Maybe even more. 

Loving someone and not letting them be completely aware of how we feel can’t even be considered loving at all. Love makes no sense if the one you love doesn’t know the sense of what you feel. It’s a long road from the love we feel until the world of the one we love, and not using the right words does not help the road get any shorter.

Trusting someone enough to be honest with them without explaining your honesty is the most dishonest thing in the world. 

B should have been kind enough to let me know. To let it be known. I think B knew that I knew our love was too real for words, but B never said it. B was probably assuming that I was assuming everything. B never said it. By respecting me, B disrespected me.

I never really knew what was going on, and right now, I don’t even know if it’s over since I don’t really know if it ever really happened. I can’t decide if I have to blame myself for ruining whatever is that I have yet to figure out if really happened between me and B, since I don’t even know what I did. Everything I said was based on what I did to react in a proper way to what I thought B was trying to say, which I thought based on what I heard from B. Which I don’t even know if was really said. Codes over codes over codes. 

I took off my shoes and laid my body on the couch when I noticed my empty hands. I had brought no receipt of payment of the bill. It wasn’t in my wallet nor in the pockets of my pants. 

* * *


Why didn’t you tell me that you are in a relationship with someone else? I know you know that I would like to know.

I’m sorry if I didn’t make you feel sure enough about us to make any decision about us. I thought you and I were on the same page, but in the process of spending my time thinking about how much we’re alike, I forgot about how much we are different. You are who you are and all the time you were nothing but everything you can be, so it’s nobody’s fault. 

I hope one day you will understand me and I will understand you... I wish you wished to make me understand… It’s okay though.”

Of course, I didn’t send this. 

When in doubt, do doubt.

There is always the possibility of things not being what we think they are. The best way to avoid being a victim of one who manipulates words is by manipulating words as well. 


I hope one day you will understand me and I will understand you. I am doing great and I hope you are too.”

This is what I really sent.

* * *

“Dear C.,

I know it’s been a long time but I know you know that this is on purpose.

I needed you to take your time to breathe and realize that the best thing I could ever do for each other is not do anything to help each other be closer to each other anymore.

I forgive you for all the things you said. I no longer hold any resentments. You handled your words the best way you could given the way you handled your feelings. 

When I think of you – because I still do – I hope you still cherish our memories, not for all the times we wanted to be together and couldn’t, but for all the moments and words we have shared that were never lived or said. Somehow they were all true. They still are. 

You don’t have to doubt one single word I have ever said to you. I have loved you sincerely and you know I always will.

Take care of yourself.”

So typical from B. So egoistical even when it’s trying to be altruistic. B didn’t even have the decency to mention being with someone new. Was it or wasn’t it the real reason to walk away from what we had?

If I haven’t searched for myself, I would’ve never found out about them being together. B never said a thing and even now this message does not feature one single mention. It’s like this new person doesn’t even exist, even though I know they are together. B wasn’t even brave enough to admit falling in love with someone else. So, either B is really the coward I always imagined or this new person is not relevant enough to either make B forget about me (since B admitted to thinking of me still) or being mentioned in this coward attempt to sound brave. In all these possibilities, someone is being lied to. 

This is what drives me insane: B wasn’t even walking away from what we had. Because we didn’t really have anything. It was me B was running from. “You don’t have to doubt one single word I have ever said to you”. That’s all there was: words. B never really did anything for me. For us. Just said some things. About love. Whatever that meant to B.

I remember wondering: “What now?” 

What did that letter mean? What was B trying to say? What could that letter do for the rest of our lives? What about all the things B didn’t say? Would they continue to keep unsaid after that letter? Would there be an “after”? “What now?” How was now different from “before” or “tomorrow” or “once upon a time when B and C haven’t met and C had a normal life believing everything was exactly what our eyes and ears and hands could understand”? 

* * *


You don’t know me enough to know if you would really ruin anything in my life.

But also, I don’t know you enough to judge your reasons.

So I believe now the best thing for us to do is respect each other’s decisions.

I’m happy and glad to know you are too.

I wish you the best.”

This was my attempt to sound like I care and don’t care at the same time.

This was my way to prove that I can be good at this too. 

This was how I laughed at the prime creator’s face while I gave B a taste of the medicine whom I blame for the beginning and the end and the empty middle of anything that might have happened between us.

This was also the last time this world has seen something happening between us.

* * *

Do you know why things are not what they seem to be? Because we never let them be what they really are. 

I never really told B I was unhappy with the way things were. I didn’t know if I had the right to be. I didn’t want B to consider any piece of chance that I did not understand what B was trying to make me see. I was interested in corresponding to B’s expectations about my complete understanding of what was going on, so I had to act like I was getting the whole implicit idea. 

So, in order to play the game, I had to play my own game, and the best way for me to do something to put my game on to play B’s game was doing nothing, since any efforts to express that I was lost would make B doubt my capability of understanding the understood (which was the premise of how real our love was).

On the other hand, any efforts to react as if what B could think of as an appropriate way to react to what B was saying would put me at risk of reacting inappropriately to what B was really saying and that would make B doubt my capability of understanding the understood (which was the premise of how real our love was). 

So I forced myself not to do anything. And do you know what happens when you don’t do anything? Exactly. 

Nothing happened for years.

* * *

Two days later after the episode at the bank, I remember waking up and finding it weird that I couldn’t turn on the light before opening the window. I got into the kitchen and the refrigerator wasn’t on. Damn. I was out of electricity. 

Damn! They cut the electricity. But I paid the bill! But I didn’t have proof that I paid the bill. I didn’t bring a receipt with me. But I wouldn’t pay it again. No. They do things like that on purpose. 

I ran towards the bank. 

Oh, you. I remember your face. Those eyes that couldn’t even look at me. The clerk who preferred to pay attention to the discussion than to give me a receipt. You’ll have to pay for it. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”, the clerk said.

Of course. They never know. No one knows. Thanks again, prime creator. 

“I don’t remember you paying any bill.”

It wasn’t a denial of my payment, but it wasn’t a confirmation either. 

“Yes, I can check it in our database. No, there’s nothing about it here. I’m sorry. It is possible that the bill was not paid.”

I went to my next attempt: the electricity company. 

“How can I help you?”

I often shuddered when I heard those words. Does anyone in this world really want to help someone? 

“I will need your full name and your ID.”

Okay, go, take my whole life. 

“Thanks for waiting. We have checked our database and unfortunately, you have not paid the electricity bill from last month. It is probably the reason why the electricity was cut. If you pay the bill with the interests until the end of the week we might restore it. Do you want me to provide a new bill with the updated price?” 

* * *

Everyone is a pro at using words not to lie yet not giving us the truth. Me, I’m probably a pro at not understanding what people say. I’m definitely not a pro at myself. 

They promise to meet our most avid desires and they do not deliver what we are led to expect. Instead, they give confused and incomplete versions of what they want to seem fair for a response to what they made us expect, and they come again with the most elegant sentences to make you feel like you’re the one who’s complicating things or being ungrateful.

“We are doing all we can to fix the problem.”

How much effort can one put in?

“Your request was heard and you will have a response in due time.”

How long does due time take? 

 “You handled your words the best way you could given the way you handled your feelings.”

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is it comprehensive or passive-aggressive?

… “The best thing I could ever do for each other is not doing anything to help each other be closer to each other anymore.”

You can’t win. 

* * *

Maybe years from now, B will contact me again coming with the “I know it’s been a long time but” thing. My life will still go on until then and nothing about it will really make any difference to me since it never made any sense to me. 

Looking at who I was at the time, I can see my old self thinking that my future impressions about what I and B had would comfort me, because I believed that I was doing everything I could do about something that could not be fixed anymore.

I would forever fool myself that I was being resilient. So if I thought I was really being resilient, then the person I am today is the consequence of what a resilient person can be, and I guess this is not such a bad place to be. It shouldn't be.

I feel fine. I don’t have to think too much about it.

There was love between B and me, I’m sure. We just didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t really fair to expect that we knew. None of us was completely aware of what there really was.

It turns out you can’t fill up translation gaps with your own vocabulary. Sometimes it's better to just let the empty spaces be empty spaces.

And speaking about empty stuff, why is my wallet not? This is the exact same amount of money to pay my power bill. I should treat myself to a drink. I speak better when I’m drunk. 

January 23, 2022 16:17

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1 comment

Kevin Marlow
23:42 Feb 02, 2022

I enjoyed the concept of language as illusory. Entwining that with the inability for us to understand even the ones we care about deepened the mystery. I would have liked for the why and what of B and C to not stagnate at the end in a 'Que Sera Sera' sort of way. Betrayal, real or perceived, always births fantastic fireworks (which keeps the reader hooked).


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