The color of calm
"All the Same"
“I am my own best friend and my own worst enemy”
The world wasn’t always this shade of green. Lime green, just on the verge of turning yellow, too bright for my burning eyes to take. Too loud. Who paints their walls lime green willingly? I mean, I guess it’s supposed to be happy, but it’s too much to handle. The world is too much to handle. But it wasn’t always.
My white oak tree, who watches over me and my home, has turned its leaves back to a lovely dark green, inviting me to sit and write. I dance past my sitting mother, past my sleeping father, and into the air that dances with me. With my notebook and pen in hand, I hug my tree and thank him for being beautiful today. I feel him hug me back.
He has inspired upbeat writing for many summers. He is the source of my creativity. In the summer, I write stories of love, happiness, and success. In the winter, I write stories of heartbreak, death, and destruction. Spring and fall are wild cards. Whatever story the tree tells me, I write.
Today I write about a love that I have yet to meet. He goes dancing with me. With one hand on my shoulder and the other on my waist, he stares into my eyes and tells me he loves me. I get butterflies in my stomach and in my hand as I write this. The tree is whispering the story into my ear as I write. This love makes me feel a warmth that I haven’t felt since the last time my mother held me. I hold the root that curves out of the ground then back in again. I hold hands with my tree, my best friend, my imagination.
I go back inside just as the sun kisses the ground. I dance past my sleeping father, past my crying mother, and into my bedroom. The walls are a perfect sage green. The color of calm. Of safety. It’s too dark outside to see my tree now, but he still whispers to me.
The hum of the TV in the living room and the sound of my mother’s whimpers cause the tree to raise his voice. He reminds me of the warmth that he let me feel earlier; he reminds me what it reminded me of. My mother. My weeping mother. My mother who hasn’t held me in years. I’ll never feel that warmth again. I’ll never again be small enough to be held.
I shake at the sound of my tree’s voice, now an ear-piercing scream. I hate how he does this to me. My best friend. Why is it, when the sun goes down, and the world goes quiet, you grow louder? Why do you raise your voice at me? Why do you yell?
The taste of the sea as I lick my lips comforts me. My tree whispers to me about the beautiful green seaweed that I could find there. He tells me to sleep.
Thunder wakes me. Or maybe my mother’s screaming wakes me. Something wakes me. I run into my parents’ bedroom, where my father rubs my mother’s back with one hand, rubbing his eyes with the other. My father tells me there’s a storm, but that it’s not bad enough to worry. I know I should believe him, but my tree says I should worry. Storms entail damage.
I sit on the edge of my bed, my tree yelling every little thing that could go wrong at me. I stare at him, only able to see him with every flash of lightning. I remember something I heard long ago, about how to tell how close the lightning really was, or when the storm would be over or something like that. All I know is that I’m supposed to count the seconds between the booming thunders, so I do. My tree counts his leaves.
Hours pass as I stare at him, my best friend. My eyes feel heavy, but my tree yells at me to stay awake. There’s been no damage yet, but it will come, and I need to be awake and ready for it.
A few bright flashes later, and there it is. The damage. My tree, my best friend, my imagination, has been struck.
He bellows in agony. I do the same.
I’m waiting to hear him, but he doesn’t speak. He doesn’t whisper. He doesn’t even yell.
I don’t know when, or why, or how, but my wrists hurt. I am warm, my mother is holding me. The storm isn’t over, but there’s light outside my window. I turn my head and see the flames. I watch as his leaves fall up for once, floating into the sky.
It’s still quiet in my head. I don’t think it’s quiet outside of it though, but it’s hard to tell. I think I hear my father on the phone. I definitely hear him on the phone. He’s speaking calmly while my mother sobs behind me.
Everything suddenly gets louder. I hear the thunder, 10 seconds between every boom, and I hear sirens, 0 seconds between every wail. There are strangers in my house now. Faces I’ve never seen before, never made stories about before. I try listening for my tree, I try to hear him tell me who he thinks these people are, but I hear nothing. The silence is too loud.
The two tall strangers lift me onto some sort of bed, a much shorter one talks to my parents. The bed starts moving, and the wheels are squeaking too loud. The tall woman above me has beautiful emerald green eyes. She blinks and they turn blue.
I think I fell asleep, I must have. I’m now in a quiet room. The walls are grey, but a knock on the already cracked door makes my ears ring. A short woman in blue walks in. I don’t know her. I can’t even imagine anything about her. Maybe she’s death coming to take me away, but that’s not very likely. She has two small paper cups in her hands.
I fell asleep again. It’s light out now. The sun coming in through the small window hurts. There are no trees outside.
Moonlight shines in now. It’s less loud. There are two empty, small cups on a table next to me. I’m still tired.
An ear-piercing knock wakes me. There’s sunlight again, too bright. The same short woman marches toward me, every step louder than the last. She says something to me and helps me out of bed. She’s taking me somewhere. The halls are grey, I appreciate the silence. There’s a painting of a tree with perfect green leaves on a giant wall to the left of me. I blink and the leaves turn yellow.
I’m in a whole new room now, the door shut completely. It’s not grey, it’s loud. Lime. The walls are lime green and my ears are bleeding. They’re not really bleeding, but they hurt. My eyes hurt too. There’s an old man sitting in front of me. He’s asking me questions that I can’t hear over the sound of his walls. I tell him that the world shouldn’t be this shade of green. I can’t handle it without my best friend, my imagination.
The old man tells me that my best friend might be my enemy. I look down at my bandaged wrists. Maybe he’s right.