Lost In White

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story on change.

Submitted: June 21, 2016

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Submitted: June 21, 2016

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Dry grime stood atop the ceilings. Stale ash floors. The toilet across from the bed was black. The bed, a plank of starch. There was a granite sink that only poured cold. The bars stood dead, old. He never cared for the bars. It was the mirror that haunted him. Looking in it with cold eyes and a dull face. That muddy mirror he thought was so clear. “It’s only grey now,” he mumbled. Only grey now. The cell collected dust dried over in blackened rust, in that muddy mirror it was always grey.

The shadows amazed him. They took their shapes in abstract forms and those were their colors. The trees, grass burning green. Their weeds, the dandelions. Their colors were their scent. He even saw color in the fence. An industrial blue. He looked up to the sun and was lost in it. A white sun. Like children painted the skies with chalk. He stared into the whites and was lost in the color.

“Victor.” The guards face was locked.

“I told you I was bright,”

The guard handed him his possessions.

“I don’t need them.” He walked away on the other side of the fence, staring with blank eyes at the hot white sun.

“Victor, double time!”

He shuffled through the tin cans, bagged them in the brown paper, tallied the total and even had time to echo ‘have a nice day,’ towards the backs of customers as they left the supermarket. His manager watched closely. “You work fast for a convict.”

“Not a convict anymore.”

“Usually the ones parole sends me are still ‘behind bars’”

Victor froze, “What do you mean?”

“They still move like they have bars and guards in front.”

“I got nothing in front of me but the sun.”

The manager began to mutter, “I think I will call you Con.”

“Names Victor.”

“You’re free now, you need something to match it”

Con, Víctor echoed. He hummed the words as he continued to bag the tin and tally the totals, working at double time.

The hum from the air conditioner was deep and low. Its breath ran across the room in its hushed whispers. Victor sat there reading newspapers, brittle, stale and white. He sat there in the dark room. Assisted housing. What they gave freed convicts. He looked out the window and caught the sun. He sat on the corner and watched like a boy, planning and plotting his adventure. He cast his eyes on the grass, the weeds, the trees, but lost them in the sun. Hot white and magnetic. It had that pull. It pulled him in and he began to hum that same tune. Its breath ran out the window towards the sun. It ran until the tune was lost in white.

The hard knock woke Victor, sleeping on the window sill.

“Why didn’t you see me when you first got out?”

“I was free.” Victor spoke plainly with whites in his eyes.

The man hugged him. I missed you.”

“I know you did. You have to miss a brother.”

They hugged through the years between them. The found themselves sitting by the window, their eyes looking through.

“Simple but beautiful.”

“If it was simple they would have given it to me in prison.”

“They don’t give it to yawl because you would kill yourself over it.” He paused. “A grand view of all that freedom. Make you think you can run outside that glass.”

“I can do just as much running in it.” Victor looked at his brother. “Why are you here?”

“Can’t see my brother in the flesh.”

“Could have seen me all the ten years in the cage.”

His brother hid in timid glares. The roll of the air conditioner came in its hushed hum. “Alright, I came to reunite with the old you.

“Johnny do you ever change.”

“Don’t need to.” He whispered, “just listen, hear me. It was my fault, all you did was save me and you took the fall.”

“I took the fall?” Victor stared at his brother. “I never fell, I froze.”

“I’m sorry, just please—”

“Johnny. Leave.”

With no argument, he left the room under the hiss of the air. As he left Victor called for him.

“Johnny.”

“Yea.”

“I missed you.”

“The pace Con, I love the pace.” The manager stood over him as he bagged. He watched for efficiency in every motion. In every grab, in every ruffle of the bags brown feathers, in every ‘thank you’ as the customer left, he watched for potential. He saw it in the rhythms of his motions. He saw his buzz. “We don’t get worker like you Con. The ones we get, their stale, dry.”

“Frozen.”

“What about you Con.”

“I thaw quick.”

The manager smiled and continued to look at the pace, he did not need to search for potential. It was there, rested in the ruffle of those brown feathers. Pace. Con kept pace, moving at double time.

He walked home in the nights. There was no sun in which to lose sight, only darkness. He moved in its midst from streets to sheets, he rested under the dark covers and dreamt. Only grey now. Only grey. Deep slumbers in grey covers, he held his hope for white suns, but only got grey ones. He saw that mirror in his dreams. The thin glass, musky with a thickened past. Dirty palms on blackened rust, he only had dreams of dust.

He worked with the same pace as he had months before. Pace brought promotions with promise of more. “You see it don’t you?” The manager looked up at him with stubby eyes.

“You move so quickly, I will have to stop calling you Con, and start calling you Mr. Victor.”

Victor stared at him plainly with whites in his eyes.

“How does that sound to you, Mr. Victor. Regional Dept. Manager.”

He walked back to his room in Assisted Housing. He could afford better, but was required to live ‘assisted’ as conditions of his parole. Condition. He listened to its hum. Same deep breath. The hum of the air conditioner rolled through the room. He sat by the window and looked through his mirror at the white sun. He saw its texture. Its magnetic pulse dimmed. It was beginning to lose its pull. His eyes set on the cold white sun. It was yellowing. It was rotting. Its overripe flesh began to peel and his eyes twitched at the smell. He looked at the dandelion in the sky and felt it crack. He heard it crack again. Then it became routine, like a pestering knock. The sun was breaking down. He looked across the room. The sound came from the air conditioner; it had lost its hum.

Victor went around the building looking for the landlord.

“Fix an A/C in the fall?” The landlord began to argue with himself, “You know this is a halfway house right? We don’t fix nothing; we don’t even keep em running. We just keep ‘em-”

“Frozen.” Victor spoke with dry eyes.

“Frozen, nothing stay frozen. Eventually it’ll spoil.” The landlord stared at Victor, “How long you been in assisted housing?”

“Almost a year.”

“Stay like this, don’t rot on me. I’ll keep your A/C humming.”

He noosed the clip-on tie around his neck. It was his first corporate meeting with hopes of his first corporate promotion. He entered the room of black-jackets. Business bees, black suits and white collars. They spoke in codes. The language of tycoons. With margins and profits as dialects. Victor took a seat near the center. The head tycoon spoke in English. “And here one of our new Regional Managers Con, is going to give us a presentation on efficiency.” Victor stood and spoke. The board listened to his words and watched his eyes, pearly white.

The meeting ended and the bees buzzed out. Before he left, Victor got ahold of the head tycoon.

“When do you think we can apply these strategies?”

“What strategies?” He laughed, “you’re joking.”

Victor’s face was dry and serious.

“You thought that it mattered,” he buzzed in laughter, “you thought you were actually making choices. You’re still a convict.” He left.

Victor walked in the streets and let the roads guide him. He moved through his old neighborhood off intuition. He knocked on the doors of the dry brick house.

“What, been frozen all this time can’t see your brother?” Johnny stood, blocking the entrance. “Heard you went corporate now, big offices and board meetings.”

“Still the same. Can’t take the Con out of Vic.”
“The same? I wouldn’t catch you dead with a tie on.”

Victor wrestled the noose around his neck. “This tie means nothing, still the same. Still Vic.”

“So nothing changes.”

“Nope. Always froze.”

“I still dream about it,” Tears rose around Johnny’s cheeks, “That day, that night. You always said stop dealing. And when those other dealers wanted me dead, you killed them. I still remember your eyes. It was dark that night. I still dream about those eyes. They were white. Pure. Pure like the moon. You changed then, definitely did.”

“I didn’t change. I started to rot. Been rotting ever since. Still frozen, that fridge can’t keep me forever.”

Johnny shouted. “Why did you come anyways?”

Vic smiled in tears, “To say goodbye. “I’ll miss you.”

It was dark by the time he reached assisted housing. He moved under the night and its cover. As he got to his room, he saw a note left on the front door.

“Victor, The A/C is fixed, but now the air filter is broken. Keep humming, I know you like the cold.” -Landlord

Victor could hear the hum from outside the room. Low, deep, piercing. He could hear its trance. It pulled him in.

Dry grime stood atop the ceilings. Stale ash rested on the floor. The window was soot black, its bars dead, old. The cell collected dust and dried over in blackened rust. The low whistle of the air conditioner could be heard. It too was only grey now. Only grey now, that low deep whistle. It lulled him in. Victor grabbed a chair and placed it under the air conditioner. “I’m going to fix this filter,” he whispered. He took off his tie and wiped the dust away from the filter. “I’ll fix the freeze,” he told himself. He fastened the tie on the conditioner. He wrestled the noose around his neck. He looked about the room. Only grey now. He looked at the window. Through the black soot, through the black night, he caught a glimpse of the hot white sun. He stared into it. “It’s mine now,” he whispered as he kicked his chair. His body hung stiff, and his eyes,

 

Lost in white.

 

 

 

 


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