For years I asked people to describe the colors of objects to me, I held onto every word. Drinking it in and willing for them to blossom to life in my mind. No amount of talking or description prepared me for the bright reality I was thrust into. The surgery was a success, me and my family were overjoyed even though I had to spend a lot of time in the hospital under observation. It would be far too overwhelming to go out into the world they told me, so I was introduced slowly.
I had a small window I could look out of in my room, but after a few minutes my eyes would start to ache at the brightness of it all. I can’t explain how hard it was to peel myself away from the window when it became too much, I longed to touch the grass and feel the leaves on the trees. I felt like a child and the world was my candy store, everything was bright as a jewel and I wanted to dive in. Even though it made my eyes and head hurt I would stand in the window for as long as I could bear just staring at everything. I could sit and stare at the sky for hours, I didn’t know that there were so many different shades of blue and that they could all exist at the same time. The thought of being out there made my heart race, it was like an ache in my chest.
I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I may have fibbed a little to the doctors to speed up my release. They asked a lot of questions about how I felt, how my eyes felt, and my head. I had psychiatrists meet me daily to evaluate my mental health with such a large change, but for the most part my answers were true. I felt amazing. Like I had been given the greatest gift ever and I couldn’t wait to explore it. The one big question that I lied about was, “is there anything that makes you feel uneasy about your new view on life or anything that doesn’t feel right?” I immediately replied with “No! I’m so happy and I feel great!” They nodded and scribbled their notes, but as my eyes wandered back to the window I was drawn to tall buildings on the skyline. I know the color gray pretty well, we’ve become great friends over the years. But something about the pattern on the building made my eyes hurt more than when I would just watch the sky or the trees in the wind. Almost like the surface was shifting, but I couldn’t really see that far so I figured it was just me straining too much.
After a few more days after that I was finally released, my mom gifted me a beautiful bouquet of daisies of every color the day before. She asked my a million times if I needed to be picked up and I refused every one. I wanted more than anything to walk home and experience everything in my own time. They told me to take it slow, which I agreed to, I may have also told them my mom was picking me up. Another small lie, but harmless. I told myself the moment I start to feel overwhelmed that I’ll call an Uber.
My walk was blissful I felt like a princess walking down the street with my bouquet of every color, my backpack strapped to me tight, and most of all I felt like I could conquer the world. As I got closer to the buildings I started to notice the strange shapes I noticed from afar which turned out to be the words, “look for us”. It was written in all sorts of penmanship, from beautiful cursive to what looked more like scratches in the stone. I saw it between the bricks on some of the older buildings and even on the pavement under my feet. The more I looked at it the more it seemed to move, something about it made my stomach turn to knots so I quickly called an Uber to take me home.
I sat down on a nearby bench and waited, I stroked the flowers in my hand as a distraction and carefully examined each petal. No matter how hard I tried though my eyes kept wandering back to the grey spaces with writing. Before I knew it someone had sat next to me on the bench jolting me from the hypnotic state. I scooched a little more to my end of the bench, clutching my belongings to my chest a little tighter.
“Beautiful flowers,” said a gentle voice.
A smile involuntarily came to my lips before I replied, “thank you, aren’t they just?”
I snuck a look at him from the corner of my eye, keeping my phone close at hand. The best way I could describe him was, sharp. Not sharply dressed, but his features were extremely sharp and defined. His skin was extremely pale, with straight black hair that went to his shoulders, and he was wearing the weirdest clothes I’ve ever seen. His shirt had a texture on it that looked almost like tree bark and I couldn’t see from my fleeting glance, but it looked like he even had leaves sewn onto his shoulders. I was thinking he must be a cosplayer or something, definitely weird to be out in the middle of the week in costume though. I checked my phone to see where my Uber was and he was still ten minutes away.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I noticed you looking very closely at the buildings and sidewalk here. Are you an architect?” His voice was so lovely, I couldn’t help myself from answering.
“No, I was just looking at them. Is it some kind of art project or something?” That was the only explanation I could think of for the writing.
I turned to look at him, almost involuntarily. I don’t usually interact with random men, but the alarms in my head got more and more quiet as the seconds passed. His gaze met mine and I numbly noted that his eyes were completely black. There was a branch sprouting from the side of his head and he suddenly had horns that I didn’t notice moments before, yet none of that seemed out of the ordinary to me anymore.
“Is what some kind of art project?” He asked, his voice was like music.
Another smile spread across my face, “The writing. It’s all over the place. It says ‘look for us’. Isn’t that weird? Must be for a cause.”
“How interesting, are you looking?” He replied. His face was quizzical, but amused. Like he was talking to puppy or a child, I should have been running for my life and still I spoke to him.
I sighed, “It’s funny, I’ve been looking for my entire life and for the first time I’m actually seeing everything. Does that make any sense,” Distantly, I felt my phone slip from my hand and fall to the grass with a thump. I did not pick it back up.
“It makes more sense than you would think.” He paused for a moment, “Do you want to come with me?”
I felt so calm in that moment, like I was covered in a warm blanket.
All I wanted to do was talk to him more, “I think I do,” I replied.
His smile revealed brilliantly white teeth, they looked a little sharper than normal. Then again nothing about him was normal. He gently took my hand in his, they were so soft even though they were cold as ice. He stood up and I stood with him, my flowers fell to my feet as I pushed my backpack off my lap.
“Where are we going?” I finally asked.
“Where do you want to go?” He asked me back, the wind was rustling his hair and the leaves that were on him echoed the sound of the trees.
“Somewhere bright,” I said, “I want to drink in the sunlight and lounge in the grass,” my heart was beating so fast I could barely catch my breath.
He smiled that smile again, I thought my heart might burst it was skipping now. Wordlessly he drew me towards the pond, backing in so gracefully he hardly disturbed the water. I felt like I was drunk, giddy and giggling I allowed him to pull me in. We walked until the water was over my head and we were gone. The pond settled into a glassy surface once more.
At that moment the Uber pulled up to the park, he checked his phone a few times to make sure he had the right place. The bench was empty, but a back back and some flowers on the ground. The man waited around for a moment, but shrugged and cancelled the ride. He drove off without a second thought.