word by Kate Shaw
colour by Joe Hengst
It has been several days since I’ve left the house. In a significant way, at least – I’ve left to take out the garbage, to buy eggs, to remember that I owned clothes that weren’t pajamas, but it has been several days since I’ve gone anywhere, done anything.
It’s cold. Not northeastern U.S. cold – worse. Wind chill down to thirty below zero. It’s amazing, how cold it can be. Every time I walk outside I re-hear those news broadcasts about Canadian citizens suffering severe skin injuries from five minutes of exposure to extreme cold. Is it cold enough to be dangerous right now? My cheeks feel like they’re turning to putty.
Hour after hour passes by and I pace, I sink into the torn, velvety couch, I heat oil in a skillet but forget what I was planning to make (did I have a plan?). I sit on the ledge by the window and look. See. It doesn’t look so cold out there, I think. There are people out there, walking around, and they’re not collapsed or clutching at their putty cheeks. They’re living despite all this, despite this unbelievably-wind-chilled air.
And then I pace again. Sometimes I pick up a book, but usually the words just end up dancing out of my consciousness before I can understand them and I just read the same lines over and over, absorbing nothing. As hard as I try to focus on the little letters, they blow away.
I haven’t been seeing anyone. My roommate is gone and I tell other people – friends, I guess – that I’m just overwhelmed with school, just trying to catch up on reading, thanks for saving me a seat but I’m actually not coming to campus today, oops!
It actually looks lovely outside. If I force my eyes through the grayish haze hanging over the street, I can nearly unearth the image of the bakery with its little orange sign, or the barbershop with its red front door. They were colored once, lovely shades, I know they were. The colors are distorted now. I hope the originals come back.
I’ve decided to start sitting on the floor instead of on the couch. From down here I feel small, and maybe that will make me feel overwhelmed by how big everything is around me, or amazed by how much this new apartment feels like home, or pitiful of what a pathetic spectacle I’m making of myself. Maybe sitting down here will make me feel something.
I lean back against the couch – I think it was green once, but the colors in here are distorted too. I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting, and now that it’s dark outside it could be 5:30 or 9 or 2 in the morning. Now, even if the colors hadn’t disappeared, I wouldn’t be able to see them anyway.
from the author: “The shades present in the visual art piece have an eerie tint to me, which is underscored by the dark tunnel in the center that disappears into nothingness. It made me think of the distorted way one sees the world through the lens of depression and other mental illnesses, so this piece deals with that distortion and the inability to pull oneself out of that dark space that burrows its way to the center of everything against your will.”