Away from Grey :
October evenings usually seem bleak and desolate by themselves. However, this one seems a bit greyer than usual. The outside world is a step beyond hopeless and I’m afraid I might know why.
The last few days have been ominous. The dark, grey presence has gotten to me and I’ve become jumpy and anxious. I’ve locked myself indoors and watched children’s cartoons for hours sometimes. Their sprightly behaviour greatly contrasts the real world I live in. This seems to help.
As these thoughts of despair jump around in my head I catch the expression of my cat in the corner of my eye. It’s an expression of worry. Whether it be for my mental health or be it the fact that the greyness has gotten to him, too, I’m not sure. The idea that we share this emotion only makes my fear more concrete. He jumps from his perch and waddles to his dish, perhaps believing some food will solve his problems. It seems a good enough idea so I grab my wallet and head outside, set on a coffee shop which stays open late.
Looking at people as I walk, I realise some of the grey has been cast upon their eyes. They are not so much glazed looks as they are foggy and lifeless. Happy enough, it seems, but no colour. I, on the other hand, must look like a walking storm cloud; grey on the outside, grey on the inside. The cup of coffee tastes like mop water and the muffin is reminiscent of saw dust. How can everything just be so awful? Then the whole thing dawns on me. This weather, these people, and this coffee: these things are not grey. I am grey. It is simply life seen through a biased lens, and I know now I can no longer hide from it.
I believe I went over board the last time I visited my dear friend, Richard. Our visits always start off with the best intentions. But get a few drinks into him, and into me, and we begin fighting. The darkest hate brews in me when he gets a certain way. Always in my face and so damned arrogant. An apology is in order. An apology which will never fade. One that will last an eternity.
By this time I’m already in my truck. I go in and out of consciousness as I play over the events in the past and in the present. I prefer not to think about what is to come. Now the dirt road I promised myself I would never drive on again is beneath my tires. That mountain trail to the lake that haunts my dreams is now all too real again. A flash back to that one night nearly pulls me off the road. Why did we drink so much that night? He made a promise to me and he broke it. He knew I would get that way and still he pushed. “Come on, man! Have a drink, man!” I mock him in a ridiculous voice but quickly stop as I realise how wrong it is. I glance at my fuel gauge: nearly empty. Not enough for a round trip.
The lake is in sight. I walk shakily to the shore then continue along it to that familiar tree. The tree which has a canoe leaned against it. Why I didn’t burn the stupid thing I don’t know. Then again, how can I say I’m sorry without it?
I hop in and begin paddling, leaving a seam as I cut through the mist. I jump when the water I’ve taken in seeps through my shoes and socks and makes contact with my feet. I shiver and exhale, sending out a cloud which blends in with my surroundings. An unknown force stops me cold in my tracks. I look around and realise I’m about in the middle of the lake. About the exact spot I dumped his body.
I peer into the water dumbly. Pure black. I pull out my waterproof flashlight and pause briefly. It’s the first time out of its package and I never thought I would be using it like this. In retrospect, this was a very bad lake to cover up a murder. At about twelve feet at its deepest, it shouldn’t take long for me to find him. I go over my to do list. Find him. Bring him up. Bury him properly. Apology accepted.
I turn the light on. My eyes scream for mercy. The moon has been my only light source thus far and this flashlight is indeed bright. My heart is about to leap out my throat as I contemplate my dive from the canoe. I jump. The water throttles my lungs and I flail about until my breathing is back to normal. I don’t have much time. It’s cold. I plunge my head under and force my eyes open, searching the lake bed frantically. Nothing. I come up for air and take a second to listen to the crickets. After inhaling a few misty breaths I go back down.
My flashlight catches the torso of Richard, the rest of him suspended weightlessly just above the ground. I swim towards him then come up for air as my lungs begin to burn. Another few breaths. More than last time. The crickets have stopped. They want nothing to do with this filthy business.
My mind begins to work. My heart is pounding. This water is colder than I imagined. Waiting to catch my breath isn’t working anymore as I tread water. Adding to my list of troubles is this damned seaweed. It touches my ankle and a shiver runs down my spine. I kick my leg up to avoid it but it seems to follow my path. What started as a tickle now feels like a rope or a noose. Panic sets in and I feel trapped. I point my flashlight down just in time to see his decomposed hand tearing into my flesh and him mouthing the words, “Apology accepted.”