Friday, August 26, 2005


This is some fiction that I wrote a few months ago. Only read it if you have some time to spare.

Upon waking up, I couldn’t help but notice how dark the room was. It couldn’t have been later than four o’clock. Everything in the room stood menacingly in shadow, as if refuting the possibility of having any light at all. The half-shaded window gave no indication of any sun. I sat up from bed, knocking my book on the floor, and opened the shades completely. It was a pure, listless grey, with a pathetic wind, not strong enough to sway the dead-looking trees. The trees surrounded the dilapidated barn and the once-in-bloom small apple orchard. The barn, which I believe once sported a cheerful, red border and a glowing white front, was now saturated with years of grey winters, wet springs, and bird droppings. The paint was peeling, and all that I could see now was the grey, decaying wood underneath. Farther off, I could see a bit of the road winding away. It was grey, just like the sky, just like everything, it seemed. I sat back in bed, leaving the shades wide open. I picked up my Richard Bach book and opened it up to where my UNESCO bookmark held my place. As soon as my eyes fell on the writing, I realized that I didn’t feel like reading. I tossed the book aside and sighed. I also realized that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I decided to go outside for a walk, maybe buy a chocolate bar.

It took a bit of convincing before he would let me go outside. He is convinced that because I am still sick, I should stay in bed and drink tea, or even vodka. As much as I understood that I needed rest, I couldn’t rationalize the reason for drinking vodka. It wasn’t easy trying to tell him how I knew that vodka would not make me feel better; rather, it would probably make me feel worse. Also, he didn’t understand how I couldn’t stomach food. I guess the rationalization was, “You’re sick? Well, you need nourishment and a lot of it!”

As it was true that I wasn’t feeling one hundred percent better, it was also true that I couldn’t spend another minute cooped up inside. It was suffocating and lonely. Well, being outside did not combat the loneliness, but at least I felt a little more refreshed. I walked down the potholed street, skirting puddles, and feeling the dampness enter my coat. It’s easy to escape the cold, but it is impossible to escape the dampness. It had already coated my skin, and it would be mere minutes before I would feel it inside me, harshly chilling me right to the bone. I shivered and kept on walking. Before reaching any of the small, coal-burning houses, I stopped by an old tree. It struck me because it didn’t simply fade into the grey landscape; it was a rich brown, with large, healthy branches, reaching towards the sky. The dominating brown of the tree seemed like it was challenging the bleakness of the sky. It didn’t seem to belong here. The contrast was simply amazing. Then, I got an idea. I walked away from the tree, and titled my head all the way back, so all I could see was the sky. I got just the effect I wanted: all I could see was grey, pure grey. It felt like I was in a dome, or more like a grey world. It felt like it was all around me, washing over me, covering me. It was closing in on me, but I couldn’t look away. The grey was actually intense; I never thought grey could be intense. The sky had so much history; it had seen countless joys and tears. I was mesmerized. Wind rustled through the tall grass, and my eyes finally wrenched themselves away from the sky. I took a large breath of air and continued on my walk. I just wished that there were a lake or a river or anything, just a body of water, somewhere nearby. This grey wouldn’t be so hard to handle if there were at least a lake of some sort.

The heavy, lethargic air instilled within me a feeling of hopelessness. For weeks, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what was making me depressed, until I realized that every morning I woke up, I drew open the blinds and saw nothing but grey. I realized how anti-climatic my morning ritual had become. In the movies, you always see the girl jumping out of bed, opening her blinds, and the sun streaming in, so much that she has to squint. I remember also having those moments. Even though I may not have been always particularly glad to be up in the morning, the sun always made it seem so much better. The moment the blinds open and the moment the sun gently strokes my face..! Oh, how delicious! How I desperately yearned for that bright ball of fire.

I continued walking, but then I another thought came to me.

As much as I felt more hopeless and down than usual, I, strangely enough, found beauty in the grey countryside as well. There was some particular beauty that struck me as I walked down the bumpy, windy road. It wasn’t only the unaltered grey sky; it was everything. It was the old buildings, the narrow roads, or the pure simplicity of shovelling coal to have heat. Perhaps the good that this grey did to me was that it made me feel contemplative and dreamy. I thought a lot, read and wrote a lot.

I stopped in my tracks. I suddenly realized I was in front of the girl’s house; the girl who had told me that she had a piano. The girl who always smiled. The girl whose eyes sparkled and danced. The girl whose skirts and dresses were too long for her and dragged in the mud. I smiled slowly. I squinted at her house, looking through the windows, trying to see her smiling self, but her house was too far from the road to see anything clearly.
I didn’t dare open the rickety gate and walk up her laneway. I took a step back.

Across from her house, there were large patches of grass. A few oak trees stood amidst cluster of flowers and weeds. I went up to the largest oak, and I slowly took off my coat. I looked up at the grim sky. I saw a gust of wind gently shake the oak’s top branches. I looked away.

I carefully removed my blouse, my pants, my boots, and my socks. I cautiously touched the ground with the palm of my hand; it felt cool but very inviting. Removing the rest of my garments, I rolled up my clothing into a little ball and set it by the large oak. The grass flattened as my entire body stretched across it. My lower back and thighs felt the scratchy tickle of the blades of grass. I took a deep breath and looked up at the sky before closing my eyes. The dark branches curled around the sky, creating my own haven. My eyelids fell close. I felt safe. I could trust the sky to protect me now.

I thought I could faintly hear the girl laughing, but I am sure that it was only the wind.

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