Zee had her talents but unfortunately, sleep was not one of them. That night it was being particularly difficult, and she didn’t even know why. She was exhausted, so she shouldn’t have had any trouble passing out when she first laid her head down on her pillow, but there she was, three hours later, staring blankly into the black, fuzzy void that was her night vision sans glasses as her mind swirled with indistinguishable, meaningless thoughts lying just below the surface of comprehension.
She didn’t know what she was thinking, only that she felt as if she were about to explode. Emotions had been building inside her for so long, layer after layer of anger, hurt, doubt, and distrust piling up in the small space she reserved specially for them then promptly ignored, opening the door only to add pressure. It was a dangerous game, and it felt like sometime sooner than later she would open the door and instead of finding another crevice, she would find that everything she had worked so hard to hide would burst out and overtake her. In her mind she called this “Shaken Soda Syndrome”.
Eventually, she put in her earbuds and listened to music on her iPod. She must have fallen into a restless sleep at some point, because the next thing she knew her alarm clock was screeching at her to wake up and she was sure it was a mistake because the air around her was pitch black. She checked that the time on her iPod. Unfortunately, it also told her it was morning. She internally groaned and yanked the earbuds from her ears before collapsing back onto her bed and pulling the warm covers over her head.
Eventually, Zee convinced herself to get up, which was no easy task, especially since there was a deafening comfort in the rain that pounded on the walls and roof of her room in the corner of the top floor of her house. It felt like she was wrapped up in a bubble in the middle of a chaotic, spilling sea, which was somehow very comforting.
Somewhat slowly, she dragged herself into some black jeans, a black shirt, her black hoodie, and her blue Converse. Then she traced her eyes in black makeup and hid her blonde hair, slightly messy from sleeping with it wet the night before, under her black hood. She skipped breakfast, picked up her black schoolbag of unfinished homework, and walked out to her dad’s black car to get her ride to school.
In the car, Zee thought about the word ‘black’ and how the word in itself sounded like the color black. Sharp, yet foggy and concealing. She wondered if this was just because that’s what the word meant or if it was inherently that way. If someone who didn’t speak English heard the word ‘black’ would they think of the color black? Well, technically black wasn’t a color at all, just an absence of light. Good. Zee felt like the absence of light, so she may as well look the part too.
In her first class, Art, Zee started her watercolor project, a knot of black lines, blue lines, and grey lines, swirling and interconnecting endlessly without escape. She decided that if it ever got in any form of art show or display where it needed a title she would call it ‘Black and Blue”. Not that that would ever happen. As the rain beat against the windows, which caused a chill, muted atomsphere in the paint-splattered classroom, her teacher made her rounds. As she passed Zee, she looked at her painting’s in-progress state for a minute before nodding approvingly and moving on.
After class, Zee quietly washed her brushes and neatly stacked her paint set with the others before placing her painting on her shelf, gathering her things, and walking to the nearest staircase where she always met Jacob and Gabriella so they could walk to science together. When she got there, however, only Jacob awaited her.
“You a serial killer?” Jacob asked her, taking in and referring to all the black, especially the hood.
Zee’s mouth quirked up into a small smile. “Nah,” she said, then quickly, before she could think better of it, she continued, “future one-time murderess for a cause.”
In response, Jacob laughed, maybe a bit awkwardly, but Zee saved him from response by asking, “Gabriella?”
“Sick,” he replied, and they fell into an easy conversation in which they placed bets on if Gabriella would thank the teachers twice after each class the next day to make up for the day she missed. Jacob said no, and Zee secretly agreed, but she betted yes anyway for the sake of opposing him.
They soon arrived at Science, Zee’s mood vastly improved, though she definitely scowled when Greta walked in, only to be interrogated by Jacob as a response. No information was yielded.
Things were temporarily back to normal. Normal was good.