This story has a fairly straightforward message, I think. I hope I tell it in a compelling way. Please let me know what you think!
The world is grey. And black, and white, and everything in between. It wasn’t always like this. I remember, as a child, there were countless other colors. But as the world revealed itself to me in all its fallen ugliness, my colors slowly disappeared.
My fluffy blanket no longer held its soft pink hue. Instead of bright red, my toy fire truck was now a dull charcoal. The birds outside my window still sang, but their radiant feathers no longer shone blue.
By the twelfth grade, none of my books came in color and my highlighters all looked the same. Trees weren’t green, the sky wasn’t blue, until the day she came.
I expected each partner to be ‘the One.’ Was that too much to ask? They came and went, and with each one, my world remained bleak. I was lost. Aimless. Desperate.
The day she came, I felt a flutter. I wondered if this was it. She checked boxes I didn’t know I had. She said everything I didn’t know I needed to hear. I knew she was going to be my forever.
Imagine my growing concern when, each day, I would search for the glimpses of returning color that I was sure would begin to appear. Imagine my panic when she would describe to me her polychromatic existence. She’s perfect, I would think. She’s everything. Why is my world still grey?
Convinced that my eyes were deceiving me, I surprised myself and everyone else when I asked her to move in with me. If my heart didn’t want to figure itself out, I would give it a bit of a nudge.
She said yes, of course. Her world was brighter than it had ever been before. We were sharing a home before the end of that month. Before the end of the year, I had asked her to be my wife.
My wedding day was grey. We kept it traditional, of course. Our vows were loaded with gratefulness for the beautiful color each of us had brought to the other’s life. I worried that I would be found out. That I would mix up my greens and my blues. The colors that were now nothing but a childhood memory. At the reception, each toast caused the knot in my stomach to grow tighter.
For the first year of our marriage, the only time my monochrome was broken was one unremarkable morning when, at breakfast, she began to sing me a song. I don’t know what it was about that song, but without asking, I could tell it came straight from her soul. She sang it softly, to no one in particular, certainly not to me across the kitchen counter. But I heard it. The more she sang, the more I felt the invisible weight lifting off my shoulders. I felt so light that I thought I would float. And then came the most extraordinary moment. The flowers she had picked from the garden that morning turned the palest of blues. Right there in front of me. For the first time in longer than I could remember. It was blue.
I never forgot that moment. For the rest of that year, I relived it over and over in my head. Yet to my utter dismay, each time I replayed that sweet memory, that beautiful pale blue would fade. One day, it was right back to grey.
What did I do wrong? What have I been doing wrong this whole time? I was living a colorless lie, and the cracks were beginning to show. My wife became distant. I wondered what had changed. I’d always been good at pretending everything was okay. And then came the longer work days. And then came the silent nights. And then came the fights over nothing. And then, and then, and then.
And then, one day, she said the most heartbreaking words: “I think we should see a color counselor.”
This was it. I no longer had to pretend. I didn’t have to live a lie anymore, because my wife was starting to see grey too. She was falling out of love. The pressure that had been building since the day we were wed finally dissipated in this moment. What replaced it was worse. It was guilt.
I had stolen years of this woman’s life. I’d taken her love. She had been pouring her soul into a vessel that could not hold it.
I was defective, and I had selfishly strung her along, hoping that one day I would fall deeply enough in love that my world would no longer be grey.
When she moved out, the only company I had was our empty, grey house. On our bedside–my bedside–sat our two grey rings. I was alone. No self-help book could cure me. The prime-time stories of people finally seeing color after years of therapy caused me nothing but envy. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I missed my wife.
The process of letting go is a difficult one. I sometimes wondered what it was I was trying to let go of. All I ever saw was grey. Doesn’t that mean I didn’t love her? I began to write my feelings. I began speaking them to myself aloud. I began to encourage myself, little by little, to go outside. To go to therapy. To eat breakfast. To make the bed, in which I was finally able to rest on most nights.
One morning when I woke up, before I even opened my eyes, something emerged from the depths of my being. A song. Her song. Our song. I began to hum her song and I realized that for longer than I could keep track of, my weight had been lifting. This morning, I was floating.
I got out of bed, still singing, smiling now. I danced around the room, now fully conscious of the monumental shift I had been experiencing so slowly for so long. I waltzed into the bathroom. I froze. I stood there. I was stupefied, shocked, and very, very confused. I was brown.
My stupor was broken by a knock at my front door. My heart told me who it was. I threw on a robe, flew down the stairs, and flung open the door. There she stood. My wife. With a bouquet of pale blue flowers in her hand.
I gazed at her beautiful hazel skin. She gazed back at me. She could see in my eyes that I had finally found the love that I had been missing. The love without which I could not accept hers. The love without which I could not give of myself.
Our world is not grey.