Arthur, 71

Arthur, a former button salesman, copes with loneliness after his wife's death. An accidental cookie related encounter with his neighbour leads to unexpected events in his life.

7 min read

The untold secret:

Arthur's secret is not one that he's proud of, but it's not something he's ashamed of either. In fact, the events that led up to the secret were completely accidental. It all started on a Thursday afternoon when Arthur was feeling overwhelmed with the week's stress and needed a break. He found solace in baking cookies, which he did every Thursday as a way to unwind. However, this particular Thursday was different.

Living in a suburban neighbourhood where the houses were too close for comfort, Arthur was never a fan of his neighbours. One neighbour in particular annoyed him with his constant playing of Rachmaninov at full volume. As he took the cookies out of the oven and placed them on the kitchen counter, the doorbell rang. Arthur opened the door to find his irritating neighbour standing there, announcing that he would be moving and that his house would soon be on the market. Before Arthur could even react, the neighbour caught a whiff of the freshly baked cookies and invited himself in, asking for one of those lovely looking, though odd shaped cookies.

What the neighbour didn't know was that Arthur had added magic mushrooms to the batch of cookies he was baking. Arthur was experimenting with microdosing and had been trying to find the right dosage. He never intended for anyone else to consume the mushrooms, but before he could say anything, the neighbour had already devoured a cookie. Arthur watched as the neighbour ate the cookie and complimented the amazing rich and somewhat umami taste.

Arthur's moral compass was in conflict. On one hand, he didn't want to ruin his neighbour's high, but on the other hand, he didn't want to be responsible for what might happen. As the neighbour left, Arthur worried that maybe the cookies were too strong. But it wasn't until the Rachmaninov didn't start playing at its usual time that he started to worry even more. Did the mushrooms affect his neighbour more than he intended? Arthur walked to the neighbour's house and saw him standing naked against the wallpaper, moving slowly as if he was rubbing his back against it.

Despite his neighbour's strange behaviour, Arthur kept the secret to himself. He was conflicted about whether he should come clean or not, but ultimately decided against it since it was technically not Arthurs fault that he took and ate that cookie.

About Arthur:

Arthur had spent his entire life in the suburbs of a world famous metropolis, dreaming of fast cars and becoming a racer. Unfortunately, his family could not afford to support his ambition, so he was forced to give up that dream and find a more practical career. After graduating from college, Arthur ended up working in his father's button and zipper business. While he didn't love the job, it was good enough to raise a family and own a small house in the neighbourhood where he lived.

Arthur and his wife had three children, but they eventually moved to the city and none of them showed any interest in taking over the button business. Arthur eventually sold the store to a young hipster who turned it into a cafe with an online button-ordering service. There was no more interaction between the seller and the buyer, and customers simply clicked a button online to receive their buttons offline. However, the cafe was the only thing that still gave the place a soul of sorts.

Two years ago, Arthur's wife passed away unexpectedly, leaving him feeling lost and lonely. He had falsely assumed that his children would visit him more often, but they showed up even less. To compensate for the sadness he felt, Arthur started baking the same wonderful cookies his wife would make on the weekends in case the kids would drop by. But since they never did, the cookies would end up being eaten by the two by Sunday night.

Arthur started going to the city on weekends to be amongst people. He would sometimes tell his kids that he would be there, but they rarely had time to meet up. Although he liked the house he lived in, he didn't like his neighbours or the neighbourhood all that much. He found a cozy cafe he would go to, and he wasn't the only regular there. There was a young lady as he would call her, who was always working on her computer. She typed so fast that she was either working on a book or preparing a manifesto to start a revolution, or maybe both at the same time.

One day he overheard her speaking to a person on the phone about psilocybin and its effects. This caught Arthur's attention, and because they had seen each other quite often, nodding when entering or leaving the cafe, Arthur wasn't too shy to ask her about it. She explained to him the concept of micro-dosing, how it helped her focus on writing, and how she had tried many other options but found that psilocybin was by far the most efficient one.

Although Arthur would never admit it, it was also that very same young lady who provided him with the goods so he could try for himself. He hated the smell of the dried mushrooms and wondered how else he could consume them without having to chew them. That's where the cookies came in handy. Not only were they delicious, but they came with a warm feeling and a flood of memories that might help to enhance the experience.

Arthur had no micro scale, so he would usually eyeball the dosage, starting with too little before steadily increasing the amount. But one Thursday, he dared to push it even further than he had dared before. He was feeling uninspired and needed an experience.

It was on that same Thursday when his neighbour showed up uninvited at his doorstep to announce that he was moving and that his house would be available to the highest bidder. Driven by the lovely scent from freshly baked cookies and before Arthur could react, the neighbour had invited himself in and ate one of his cookies without giving him the opportunity to interfere or explain that they should not be consumed.

Arthur realised that maybe it wasn't just him who needed an experience. Besides, he couldn't stand his neighbour. The man wasn't a bad person, but his hearing issues and his love for Rachmaninov drove Arthur crazy. Every day, from 4pm to 11pm, the same routine would play on an old stereo at maximum volume.

When the neighbour left that Thursday afternoon, Rachmaninov did not turn on at 4pm sharp as usual. Arthur didn't notice it at first, but by 6pm, he started to worry. He wondered if maybe the cookies were too strong or if he might have a bad experience.

Feeling a sense of urgency, Arthur walked into his neighbour's garden to check on him. The curtains were wide open, and Arthur could see him leaning against the dark patterned walls, naked and smiling, slowly moving as if he was rubbing his back against the wallpaper.

Arthur went back to his home and was relieved that the neighbour was okay. However, he knew he would never tell him what he had seen because he didn't want to get into trouble, plus he didn't want to be responsible for whatever his neighbour ended up doing that night.

A few days later, the neighbour rang Arthur's doorbell again. He opened up reluctantly, yet glad that the man seemed fine. The neighbour apologised and told Arthur that the house was no longer for sale. Arthur wondered why, and the neighbour explained to him that the house had become a part of him and that he could not leave it. He went on to explain that he had a strange experience last Thursday, shortly after he came home from telling all the neighbours that he was moving. He suddenly felt a sense of connection to the building. In fact, it went so far that he was sure he had become a part of the house's wallpaper. He was convinced that when he stood in front of the wallpaper, he became invisible. He, the house, and the pattern became one, a connection he wouldn't be able to live without. To him, it was a sign that he should stay in the place that loved him and was now being loved back.

It was clear to Arthur that his neighbour was not as invisible as he thought he was, especially when he stood in front of that wallpaper. Arthur had seen more than he ever wanted to see from that guy, but his curiosity got the best of him and he invited him in for a cup of tea. It was a Monday, so there were no cookies to be consumed, and the situation felt safe enough. They ended up talking all afternoon and Arthur started to feel sympathy for the guy. He even began to imagine that he could tolerate an occasional Rachmaninov concert.

As time went on, Arthur experimented with his cookies and started to feel a sense of connection to his garden, the trees, and their roots. He could feel his kids from wherever they were, even if they never bothered to show up. He didn't want to be invisible like his neighbour, although Arthur didn't mind the neighbour being invisible to him. Instead, Arthur wanted to feel connected and know that even if he was alone, it was only physical loneliness and not mental or spiritual one.

One Thursday afternoon, after baking and eating more of his favourite cookies, Arthur was standing in his garden closing his eyes and immersing himself in the universe around him. It was then when he suddenly noticed the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor OP 18 III Allegro Scherzando playing in the background. For a moment, everything seemed to make sense- his absent kids, his dead wife, his hard of hearing neighbour, and Rachmaninov playing a piano concerto that only got composed after a year-long struggle with psychological issues. Perhaps, there was hope. Maybe psilocybin was what Arthur needed to write and play his own symphony, his last act in life.

Arthur, 71