Laura Potter

All work © 1997-2015

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Mr. O was a lover of things. He was one of life’s great collectors. He had acquired many important things over the course of his reasonably average existence, and was in no doubt that the longer his life went on the more impressive his assortment of things would become.

His tastes were meticulous and refined, and yet he was not remotely interested in artistic merit or fine craftsmanship. Neither did he care for any of the other values one might expect from such a connoisseur of the material artefact. Indeed, he was a collector of such strange and rarified goods that any attempt to render them tangible with words was entirely futile. All that can really be said, is that those who were fortunate enough to gaze upon their magnificence were left in no doubt that they had seen the most important group of artefacts on Earth. Even more astonishing, was the fact that they had been gathered together by just one man.

If anyone had seen fit to press him on his obsessive consumption, he would have admitted that it was not the things themselves that gave him real pleasure; it was the sublime experience of unpacking them that he desperately craved. The strange truth of his intense passion was that he coveted the wrapping materials almost as much as the treasures they encased. He relished the blissful moment when, poised before a sturdy unopened carton, he would slowly peel away the adhesive tape to reveal the inner layers of protection. The act of working through each section was a performance – a kind of ritual undressing – through which his hopes, expectations and desires became solidified.

On the day in question, our man was preparing to receive an unusually large shipment from the Far East. He had been waiting for precisely the correct moment to take delivery of these items, and had chosen a day where he would remain undisturbed for several hours. The consignment was a little late, but he busied himself arranging the tables in his study in eager anticipation. At precisely 08:09 the bell rang to signify the appearance of the thirty or so new parcels, and he soon found himself hovering over the largest box, on the verge of loosening the first strip of packing tape.

For a split second, he experienced a feeling of intense nausea and a burning sensation behind his eyes. Having no explanation for this, and keen to proceed with the unwrapping, he gingerly peeled away the first exhilarating layer. He felt a tingle in the back of his neck and the weight of his entire body drained into the floor. Simultaneously he understood, without sorrow or pain, that he was completely alone and had been for his entire life.

By lunchtime he had dismantled each and every box, and wearily made his way to the leather chair in the centre of the room. As was customary on days such as these, he would sit perfectly still for several hours and simply survey the scene, visually familiarising himself with each new acquisition. During this time, he would meticulously replay the crucial revelatory moments through which these things had become his things. The visions would slowly crystallise and eventually come to rest, within his body, as the concrete sensation of possession.

He was discovered much later, in the small hours of the following morning, sitting silently in the darkness surrounded by empty boxes. A gentle white glow radiated upwards from the floor, it being entirely covered in an even layer of a white grainy substance. There was no immediate sign of the artefacts he had received that morning (nor would any subsequently be found). He never explained what had happened, and he never opened anything again.