Every morning started the same way: shower, shave, coffee. Shaking the last webs of sleep from his eyes, he noticed something was off. He couldn’t tell what it was, and that frustrated him. It is like having something on the tip of the tongue, close to grasp yet somehow maddeningly out of reach. He managed to drive all the way out to his 9-to-5 before he realized what was wrong. Everything seemed duller. Not in the sense of boredom, but rather as if everything had been sprayed lightly with a same gray paint reminiscent of a pre-Technicolor era. He shook his head and blinked his eyes, but to no avail. A frown pulled at the corners of his mouth, but he had a report due this morning and pushed the strange matter out of his mind.
Heading home from work, his mind was still filled with in the inane flashes of the dull, worker-drone programs he forced himself to do for a paycheck. Rush hour traffic gave him the reprieve to think about the matter again. He noticed the gray tint of a stop light and considered the issue. He thought about going to the doctor’s, but he didn’t make nearly enough money to justify the visit. He only had one choice: to ignore it and hope that it went away on its own. He sent a silent prayer to whomever waits on high. The traffic accelerated and he pulled into his apartment complex at a quarter to midnight.
The blaring of his alarm clock woke him up. He kept his eyes closed all through his morning shower. He even brushed his teeth with his eyes closed. It is the same willful obstinance that a child displays when both the parent and the child know that he will not get his way. He dared open his eyes, and a soundless wail erupted from his lips. The world around him was gray. His bathroom, his bed, and his apartment. He rushed to the window to double check. Shades of gray dominated the landscape around him. The autumn leaves of gold and red were simply dull, gray features on a dull, gray tree. Even his new red car, which he had gotten with a loan from the bank, remained a featureless color. He rushed into clothes and into his car. He drove all the way to the hospital; not the emergency exit, lest the people think him insane, but walked in through the front doors. He sat tapping his foot with a impatience half fear and half hope, a fear of a permanent problem and a hope of the opposite. The doctor called the man’s name. He was lead to an examination room, turned to a mirror, and gaped at it with shock. Although everything around him was colorless, he was a beacon. The blue of his jeans was crisp as a clear summer sky and his shoes, although ratty and old, gleamed with a vibrant, crap-brown color he didn’t even know existed. His white shirt was blinding. His complexion stared back at him, his incarnadine cheeks, bloodshot eyes, and pale, taut lips that seemed to express a million words with their color. He was still staring at his own image when the doctor entered the room. The doctor did the usual physical; listening to the man’s heart, looked in his ears, and proclaimed him perfectly healthy, albeit with a rare case of adult-onset colorblindness. The man, in comparison, seemed lost.
He drove home and cringed at the sight of the gray world around him. He began to feel guilty, watching people walk in dull clothes and dull shoes. He entered his apartment and turned on his television. He watched, in a progressing depression, as celebrities now walked a drab carpet, wearing silvered dresses, posing with ashy expressions. He turned off the television and thought to himself. He could imagine in his mind’s eye the famous gardens of Versailles, drained of their color, somber and dull. The guilt crushed him. The man shook his head and steeled himself. He walked to his room, pulled out a small box, and opened it only to see a cineral, nondescript ring staring back at him. He sat in his bed and cried. He fell asleep like that, crying and alone, in his own, gray, bed.
He awoke the next morning, through the alarm. He spared no thought about his job. He did not shower, shave, or even properly dress. He ran red lights on the way to the hospital, after all, he couldn’t tell what color they were. He arrived in the emergency entrance this time, and he was taken to a more serious-looking examination room, with tools and scalpels on a tray. The doctors questioned him, but considered his affliction more a mental one than a physical one. As the doctor left to check test results, the man risked a look into the mirror beside the examination table he sat on. He was blinded by his own brilliance. The day-old stubble on his cheeks blackened his face. His eyes screamed a verdance that reflected the once-green forests around the world. His body was vibrant, alive, and sparkling. He sat on the floor and cried, and the color of his tears only served to upset him further. He continued to sob, but an idea stopped him right in the middle of a pitiful sniffle. He got to his feet and walked to the tray of medical instruments. He picked up a scalpel and moved it to prick his thumb. He sobbed in joy to see his own color leak and return the world around him. The flow of color stopped, and he frowned. He gripped the scalpel again and sliced his wrist, albeit lightly. He grimaced in pain but was ecstatic, seeing the room around him flush back into color. He peeked his head out of the door and saw that despite his efforts, the rest of the world was still gray. He returned to the examination room. He considered his situation for a second. He moved the scalpel again, hesitated, and sliced.
– Robb Soslow, The Haverford School, Class of 2016