By Hannah Yale

Blink, and for an instant the world is a kaleidoscope. A sour green lattice stretches over the void landscape. Orange sulfur clouds move through and contaminate the scene. Purple webs over and under and through the orange, weaving itself into an indiscernible pattern. Everything blends into one another, yet each is distinct. The orange fog floats through the web, infecting the crevices which would seem too small to penetrate. The acrid green remains a separate sheet of lace, wrapping behind and around the surrounding structures. For an instant, with my eyes closed, all I see is color.

Eyes open. The blank ceiling above me is taunting. The searing whiteness mocks me, and I shrink. There is no meaning, no point to my being in such a blank space. Everything— all efforts, intentions, and actions— amounts to nothing. The world is empty. 

It is a clean quiet for the first time in a while. Everyone is out. I breathe in deeply, purposefully. Finally, I am alone, but I am not lonely. Finally, I am not forced to hear their buzzing insect voices, infesting every corner. Finally, I must not stare into their pale, distorted faces. Their eyes and lives are so repulsively vacant. My own soul is contaminated by their physical presence, the empty shells of skin wandering around me. They continually drain me of my color and sense. It is conciliating to be alone. I relish the solitude.

But the walls, the ceiling! The totally engulfing sea of violent white! The filthy, bloodless picture of shared space. It does not do, it will not do. No, I close my eyes again and am embraced by the colorful uncertainty. Behind the colorful mesh the aperture goes deeper. Metal rods erect from all sides of the space, and silver beetles scatter through the surfaceless expanse. An inky mulberry, as if dropped in water, seeps into the liquid mass, the solid skin, that is everywhere.

Everywhere? Where am I? In my bedroom of course, but beyond that? Does this space have an end? I cannot tell if I am contained, in a dome, or if the vision is infinite. I wish to swim further. 

Eyes open to blinding white— this is not breathing. I close my eyes and darkness resumes— this is. I push through the cracks in the suspended chrome spokes. There is an explosion of shapes! Nightshade diamonds and horsenettle squares are born and replicated in eternal identicality. They move outward in a continuous burst, flying further away from me. Do I dare to creep closer? Is it possible?

Open. Searing light pierces my skin, my soul. Ears ring furiously. The glare is suffocating.  Why does my body insist on opening my eyes? It does not do, it will not do. My eyes search for something to grab onto. They settle on a clock, 3:28, but the light echoes loudly in my vision. It is fuzzy, static. It hurts to see. I can feel it destroying me quicker and quicker.

Eyes close again, and I’m back where I began. I had stared into the light for too long. Now I am returned to the green gossamer, the acid orange clouds, the lilac threads of the beginning. I propel myself past the silver rods and swimming beetles, into the dark purple murk. Before I can go further, I stop myself to think. Surely, it is in my body’s nature to open my eyes. Surely, when they all come home, they will force me to look at their sad, ghoulish faces. Their pasty porcelain smiles. They will attack me, again, with their toxic luminescence and false claims of truth. They do not know. They are ignorant to what I have seen without them. My exploration, my vision, will not be ruined by this fluorescent life they have been forcing me to live. I do not have to leave my room to see wonders. I do not have to leave my own head. I must fix this before I go any further.

My eyes are open again. With utmost urgency I search the house for what I need. Each moment is torture. Lucent fog swarms my sight. I bump into the wall, fumbling to find what the task will require. In the linen closet, an old wicker basket. This is it. If I can do this, I can float through the darkness of my mind forever, uninterrupted by their stares, or the ceiling, or the fuzzy lights that plague me. 

I creep slowly back to my room, smirking, basking in my own cleverness. Setting the basket next to me, I sit down in front of the mirror. I want to take one last look at myself. The body is a foul stranger entirely disconnected from myself. The only piece that seems to fit is the sunken eyes, the skin underneath them gloaming as the night. And the irises, deep brown, almost black. It is a fitting end, leading into a new beginning.

I turn to the wicker basket and open it at last. Here are the silver rods and purple threads. The pain is bearable, knowing the solace it will grant. The pain is nothing compared to the assaults of matter.

 One eye closes, then the other. Everything is black. I wait for the colors. I wait for the green lattice and the orange fog to appear. I will myself to see them, to push through the dark until I find an ashen spoke or a lavender cord to hold onto. 

There is nothing. There is no meaning. The world is empty. 

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