He had that sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as the light flickered in and out of his window from the passing cars. He was not yet tired enough to sleep for the night as his mind was wandering through distant memories. As he sat aimlessly staring at the wall, he felt the sudden urge to get outside of the lackluster space he called home. As he sprinted towards the corner liquor store to grab a cold soda pop, he heard dogs barking and witnessed the throng of casual teenagers acting recklessly on the corner…typical, he thought. After rustling through the chip aisle of the local liquor store, he decided to grab some Arizona ice tea- guaranteed to be crisp and refreshing. With little desire to partake in the world around him, Grey began to sprint towards the woods. It was as if his body nonchalantly guided him to their spot- the old stomping ground. With harsh breaths and cold air, his footsteps pounded the muddy floor as he settled upon a log amidst the myriad of beautiful trees. In the night, the trees were somewhat ominous, existing with a faint touch of looming darkness, yet a quaint beauty as they overtook the surroundings like a gargantuan army.
Grey couldn’t help the overwhelming sadness that succumbed his thoughts as he reminisced on all the good times they spent in the river gently cascading on his left. The water paralleled his eyes wetting as he tried to stop his thoughts before they traveled too far. Despite his valiant efforts, they were blowing through his mind like a steam roller on the fast track, and his past felt as real as the tangible earth beneath his dirty sneakers.
Her smile was unforgettable. A mild medium between being too large for her carefree face, yet too small to adamantly portray the happiness she felt and spread throughout the lives of everyone she met. As friendly as she was, she grew up as a quiet soul, and when she had nothing to say, unlike most of the people Grey knew, she was not afraid of silence. He learned a lot from her in her youthful 14 years of life growing up chasing his footsteps. He couldn’t help but treat her like his own daughter, as he protected her from all of life’s bad ways. As much as he tried to prevent the tide that literally caused her demise, he just wasn’t strong enough, and there was really nothing he could have done differently- but, he would never be able to admit that to himself. Since the day she was gone, he felt a void like nothing he could ever explain, and although he wholeheartedly attempted to move on with his own life, everyone around him never felt that he was the same Grey they used to know. It was as if his parents had known his destiny all along when they decided to name him. His appellation fell heavily upon his identity… he was stuck between the colors of the world and the darkness of nothing. He was a shade that no one could really read, and he didn’t mind to be just the way he was. She was the color that illuminated his life, and as if a lightbulb had lost its glow, he grew colder without her warmth.
Sitting upon the log, he suddenly felt a cold shiver roll over his shoulders. As he clenched his jaw, the drop of warm salt water streamed down his chin. Just one tear, he told himself. Just one.
As it landed gracefully in the dirt, he got up rapidly and jolted back to his bedroom only a few blocks away. He covered himself with his comforter up to his nose, spoke to her in his mind and imagined kissing her forehead to say goodnight- the same thing he had done when she was in diapers. Slowly but surely, he would continue the same excruciatingly painful mental exercise. And with that, he turned over and drifted into a magical land where darkness ceases to exist, and happiness radiates from cheek to cheek.