Room without walls

What happens when you remove the fourth wall?

Jim Esch
2 min readNov 28, 2021

Sitting on a high back wooden chair, you can see three of them, but not the one behind. You can’t say for sure whether the fourth is really there. Sometimes you think you feel a breeze at your back, that there must be nothing behind you but empty space.

You close your eyes. You see nothing. Silent. You open your eyes. The surfaces are white, plain, indistinct. You look for signs of peeling paint, any mark or distinguishing features.

You feel something coming upon you. A fear of nothing describable, because it is not known, because it is not there, not before, maybe behind, from the empty space where it should be.

You may sit in this chair until you pass out from thinking and looking for concrete facts to explain the walls, the chair, and you in it. There is no way to prove the existence of any of this. You could turn around and look, but that would be cheating, nor would it be conclusive.

The ceiling begins to lift slowly. At the same time the walls expand away in a harmony of recess, without any crevices opening to let you see through, beyond them. The corners remain tight as they recede, and you get this sense of perspective shift, ever slight.

More rapidly than you expected, the walls are miles away, beyond your ability to see them, and the ceiling so high that it becomes a sky.

You wait for motion, but you are the only thing that moves.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Note: This piece was first published in Housefire, January 2012.

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