Fiction by Mariana Erazo

     I watch the rainbow’s colors fade. Watch them slowly drain into the ground, leaving behind gray stripes against the graying sky. I look around and see the trees graying as they lose their leaves, the flowers wilting and falling, leaving nothing but gray, thorny branches. Something isn’t right. When my world becomes gray like this, the colors usually pool onto the ground, a mass of ribbons without homes. It’s my job to untangle and restore. But there is nothing to untangle this time. The vivid colors have disappeared, seeping into the ground. They’re gone.
     I don’t know how to make new ones. But she does. She who is out in the world. She makes the colors, occasionally adds something new. The rainbow has only been here a short while – perhaps a year for her. Each time they fall away, and I restore them to their places, they are more vivid, more beautiful, than before. She isn’t aware of that, of course. Not completely. She only realizes how bright they were once they’ve fallen away and changed. But this time, there’s nothing I can do. Tomorrow. Tomorrow it’ll be better. Tomorrow there’ll be something I can fix.
     I watch the sky, waiting for night to come. But it doesn’t. No twinkling stars, bright moon, iridescent comets. Just infinite gray. Is it even night? Is it already day? She is silent. Her silence is only helping my world die, not helping it as she thinks. I rush about frantically, searching for my colors. I push through the thorns, not heeding the scratches they inflict. This world is vast, but my jurisdiction small. Soon, I’m back where I started. I think. It’s so hard when you’re gray. I’m a bloody mess, but even that oozes gray. I watch as the last drop of my color fades.
     I want to sob. I want to scream. I’ve never felt such agony and anger. But I can do nothing but stand rooted to the spot. My face, I know, shows nothing. It’s reflected in the still gray river before me. But this tempest inside threatens to shatter me. And still, my face shows nothing. I don’t know how long I stand there, thoughts swirling into the myriad of emotions that slowly disappear. Soon, I’m numb. No, empty. It’s difficult to put thoughts together. Pain accompanies each one. Where are the colors?
     The storm starts again, and my arms wrap around my head. Make it stop! I scream, my voice muffled by the gray. I find myself crouched on the riverbank, struggling to breathe. Do I even know how to breathe? I can’t remember. There’s a lot I can no longer remember.
     I slowly stand and look around. I can’t recognize my world. It’s monochrome, almost two-dimensional. What was I searching for? I walk aimlessly until I come to a black door. I don’t remember seeing it before. There’s something dark, something evil, something compelling me to let it in. My hand numbly reaches towards the black knob as my empty mind screams. It twists before I can touch it.
     The mass inside is hideous, made of darkness and consumption. It grows, stretches, tendrils reaching and grabbing onto the sides of my world. It has no mouth, yet it consumes everything. The flowers’ branches are the first to disappear. – as if they had never been. Then the rainbow, the river, the trees. Soon, nothing but thick, inky blackness. She’s the only one who can save me, save herself! I have to find her! I try swimming through the pitch. I’m not sure if I move towards it, or it towards me, but soon, there’s a screen before me.
     I gasp, horrified. Two years have gone by! And as I watch her, I realize, with sinking heart, that there will be no more colors. She doesn’t know how to make them. She’s as lost as I am, yet she smiles as if nothing is wrong. But I can see it. Before, she was chipped, missing some pieces here and there. Maybe a dent or two. But the web of cracks crisscrossing every part of her, haphazardly glued together, form a grotesque shell of who she used to be. She was broken to the point where she can’t come back. Where I can’t come back.
     I listen to her thoughts, so bright, sweet, and warm before, now cynical, hard, and cold. Somehow, she built a wall she can’t take down. She wants to, I know. She wants to be herself again. She hates the monster she’s become. Sometimes, something manages to break through the façade. She reminds herself that that’s what she wants, even as she automatically fixes the wall. She’s lonely, trapped by herself for a protection she can’t let go of, for fear. I am no longer her. I am no longer the custodian of her colors. They were stripped from her, and she watched them slip through her fingers as she tried to save them. As I tried to save them.
     We failed. And we’ll spend the rest of her life paying for it. I can tell you exactly when it started. I watch the rainbow’s colors fade.

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