The Town in Grey

Just a little something I wrote - I'd rather not say too much for fear of giving away the twist!

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1. The Town in Grey

The idea of knowing someone is purely subjective. How does one define a friend? Or an acquaintance? Is it someone you take the train with to school in the morning, someone to whom you can complain at the end of the day? Or is it merely a concept people have created so as to feel a bit less lonely in this huge world? I thought of little less as I wandered aimlessly around the streets of a strange city. Not really a city, actually. Well - not to me anyway, not by my standards. Just a collection of gray, boring, uniform buildings, one after the next, seemingly forever. Nothing for my mind to clench itself upon, nothing for me to recognize or remember. Just gray. And people all around me, people with a life and history, just like myself, but of whom I know nothing. To me, they’re just bodies, walking and talking bodies which I don’t understand - I don’t understand their city and I don’t understand them. Don’t get me wrong - I wish I did. I try to, but I can’t think normally. I can’t seem to grasp on to anything about them, it confuses me. The buildings confuse me. Why isn’t there any color? Why do they all look the same? Maybe I’m walking around in circles. It wouldn’t be surprising. And maybe the people I see, the same, dull people, maybe they’re not really alive, maybe they’re only a figment of my imagination, projected only so as to comfort me in my distress. Maybe that’s why I can’t understand them - maybe I can’t understand myself. Maybe I’m merely wandering around the pathways of my mind, a boring, colorless mind. But I can’t allow myself to think that. If I don’t believe in the reality of the world, that world will become an endless labyrinth of dull, gray buildings, just like here; and maybe if that world is a mirror of my imagination well, maybe by believing in it, I can make the buildings colorful, and the people more alive. Maybe they won’t be so strange to me, when I find them more alive, maybe I could consider them friends. Who said one had to talk to one other to become a friend? We all have different definitions, different ideals, whatever. If I can just grasp on to my vision of that man, a few feet away from me, who looks just like all the others, if I can fill him with color and remember one, single detail about him, maybe I could consider that I know him; maybe I could understand him. If I can remember tiny things about all those people around me, all those boring, soulless buildings, well maybe I can find comfort in them - in knowing where I am and what is around me. Is that all a person needs, though? Is it really possible to survive alone, completely alone, in a strange city? Do we always need someone by our side, are we doomed to be eternally dependant of another person whose loyalties can never be certain? And therefore, I think it is justified to ask whether we are doomed to suffer the pain of never finding a person who can fully understand us, who can always be there and understand each and every little thought that we can possibly have. Maybe, in the end, maybe strangers are those who understand us best; maybe they have the true insight into our mind, without a clouded and biased judgment. If I observed somebody next to me for a while, would I understand some things about him? Would I see into his life? I already know that the answer is no - he is too gray, too empty. He means nothing to me, in the end. It’s hard to realize that each and every single person I cross in the street, everyday, has his or her own history, memories, past, and that maybe the history of some of those people will someday be taught to students in some faraway country as a means of proving some point or another. In fact, I think it’s impossible to fully realize the amplitude of all the memories contained on this small planet. And so maybe those gray people, those gray buildings, maybe they’re actually reassuring, after all. Whispering to me that right now, only my thoughts matter, that right now, nobody else’s will intervene. Maybe all this emptiness, this overwhelming void, is only here so as to enable me to think for myself. To think about my thoughts. Not about the emptiness. Maybe the emptiness doesn’t matter - in the end, I could create my own world in my head if I wanted to. My own people, my own city. But it would be a lonely city and lonely people indeed. 

   I’ve been stuck in this strange place for a few weeks; it happened right about the time my friend and I had a fight. I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened and exactly how I ended up here. My thoughts are very confused. I just know that I tend to get very violent without really meaning to, and that my friend fought back. I woke up a few hours later and have been in this gray world ever since. In any case, it doesn’t really matter how I got here - what matters is that I am here, alone, clueless, and without my friend. He had been the only person to ever be nice to me; people have always rejected me, treated me as an outcast - I don’t know why, but what I do know is that I can manage without that friend; I can overcome the meager feelings I had for him. But I’m still stuck in this bare city. I’ve been wandering around the bare streets of this bare city, looking for a familiar face or building - but I haven’t found any familiarity here. Everything’s empty, but somehow it hasn’t actually been bothering me that much. I enjoy solitude, I always have. In fact, I’ve pretty much spent most of my life alone. Alone with my thoughts, or with my music; music is the only thing which has kept me sane over the years, a guitar away from the bias and judgment of the world. The throbbing, pulsing rhythm of drums, the electric whine of a guitar, the screeching of a voice and the low, masculine tones of a bass….they make me feel alive. I feel dead here, without my guitar, without any music to listen to. I’ve been humming tunes in my head, but it’s not the same, it’s never the same. It’s empty, just like everything else here. My head feels empty, I can’t think properly with all the grayness around me - the grayness is clouding my mind, I think. Taking over it. I feel as if I were stuck in one of those old movies in black and white, where the characters can’t talk and they’re surrounded by people with whom they can’t communicate. It’s exactly my situation, actually - but the strange thing is, I can’t even remember ever communicating with anyone; I know it’s only been a couple weeks since the accident, but my mind is blank, it’s already been clouded and I can’t seem to manage to grasp on to any kind of human memory at all. My primary needs have become the main source of my focus - food, water, sleep and music. I don’t miss my friend. It’s as if my human qualities had suddenly evaporated over night - but I know that that phenomenon has a source. I know it’s due merely to those buildings and those people around me, because they scare me, they take control of my brain and thoughts like a vicious swarm of persistent leeches. That’s what those people are like - they’re leeches, they’re sucking the life out of me and turning me into one of them. In fact, can I really consider myself to be any different from any of them? Maybe they’re also all just wandering aimlessly around, looking for a friendly face to pin themselves to, looking for a blink of color on a building, a twinkle in somebody’s eyes. Just like me. Trapped inside our own heads, unable to get out, to reach out and touch this world of opportunity and hope.

   They’re surrounding me. Their arms are reaching out at me, clawing at my face, just inches away from tearing the skin off of my limbs, from piercing my eyes and clouding my vision even more. There’s more coming, I can hear their footsteps - hurried, pulsing footsteps. They sound like a drumbeat. I’ve got to get them away before they take my life away from me once and for all. I’ve been clinging on for so long - these empty weeks have felt like an eternity, and I’ve gotten so far, I can’t let them stop me when I’m so close to getting out of here; I’m sure it’ll be over soon, I know I can conquer this gray world, I know I won’t succumb to it. I’m stronger than it, I’m stronger than them, I won’t let them get into my head and take all that I have away from me.

   My nightmare woke me up, covered in glistening beads of sweat and trembling all over. I could almost see the pale, empty eyes of those who had been attacking me only seconds before. I believe that dreams and nightmares are far from being fictional, by which I mean that I entirely believe in the reality of what happens in them. Of course, I do realize no one was physically standing in front of me, tearing the skin away from my cheekbones - but I think something must have been happening that made me feel that way. I don’t know about dreams, but I’m absolutely positive about the rationality of nightmares. If I felt attacked, it’s that someone, somewhere, was violating my privacy. Something happened, and I was able to push it away. But I want to make sure that it never happens again. I’ve never been big on property - I mean, I’ve never had a problem with sharing or anything. But if there’s one thing that I will never let anyone catch a glimpse of, it’s my thoughts - that endless labyrinth of choking confusion that is my mind. Maybe if I reach out to the void, somehow fill it with the color of my thoughts, maybe then I can survive here. Maybe that’s the solution - fill the gray. Fill the buildings and the people, inject them with the beauties and complexities of color. Look at them differently. Maybe instead of analyzing them coolly, I could try to truly bind with them - maybe have the first sincere relationship of my life. Looking back at these past months when I had a friend, I realize he was only a  strangely inanimate figure in my life - I mean, sure he moved, talked and all that, but I somehow only considered him a consequence of life, an obligation, in a way. I thought that it was simply a normal thing to have, that I had to live with him and that’s just the way things were; but I know different now. Now that I’m alone with my thoughts, I realize I can make my own world, I can be the soul creator of it, design it to fit my greatest wants. Of course, I liked my friend. He was the only person who was ever really nice to me, who talked to me. Everybody always seemed to keep themselves at a distance from me. I repulsed people. But that’s all over now. I can make them leave my memories, I can take control of those memories and shape them so as to fit my desires. They will be out of my life, all those people who didn’t like me. I’m the creator of the world now.

   They’re banging at my door, this time. They’re not in yet, though they’ve been trying for a long time. Maybe an hour, maybe more. But I won’t let them in. I’m pushed against the door, my tense muscles on the verge of snapping; but I won’t let them into my home, into my thoughts and memories. They’re mine, and no one will ever have access to them. I can feel the tension on the door getting lighter; they’re giving up, they’re going away, leaving me in peace for a few short moments which I will cherish above anything. I won’t let them in. My labyrinth is safe.

   Loneliness is bliss. For many years I heard my mom complaining to my dad about being lonely. She was acting as if being alone were a bad thing, she was saying that he didn’t spend enough time with her. I’d get confused each time I heard that and today, I even get confused each time I think about it; I cherish being alone, I need it, I crave it. I hate being talked to, being asked questions. I don’t want to let people in on my life - it’s mine, mine. I ignore questions like that. I pretend to not understand, and people believe that. They’re ridiculous; they think I have a problem, that I don’t know how to communicate with the outside world. Well they’re wrong, they’re entirely wrong, because I’ve chosen to be like this. I’ve managed to create a distance in between the world and myself, an invisible veil that protects me from their skeptic, intrusive stares. No one understands me but myself; and I understand myself better than anybody else possibly could.    I understand myself so well, I can create a bridge in between my mind and the world and make them one; I can make my dreams come true. The labyrinth of my imagination will become a pathway in my world; those animals trying to take control of my brain, will become my slaves and I will control them as I managed to control their access into my thoughts. My solitude will be respected, no one will ever barge into my life again. I will be protected from the judgmental gazes of all those meaningless people around me - my meager, yet existing, feelings for my friend seem so far away. I would never make myself vulnerable like that again, vulnerable to the eyes and thoughts of another, psychologically naked in front of him. My thoughts will become my world, and I will never come back; it’ll be a world of music and color, of silence and hope - and I will never allow anyone to penetrate it.

                                ________________________________

«  I am sorry to inform you of this, sir, but your son’s situation seems to be getting worse; I sincerely thought this new medicine would help limit his autism and make him more open to the world, but I don’t think there is much left to do anymore. I‘m sorry.»

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