The Gray of 'Tween
Article ID: 15937
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 979
Times Read: 5,719
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Author: Merideth Allyn
Posted: January 10th. 2017
Times Viewed: 5,719
It is gray. Everything is gray, and it feels a moody, heavy, wooden gray, and it is ice cold like gun metal inside and out. The white paper birches look misty gray, and old, and gray snow blankets the frozen grass, making it look leaden and colder than the twenty-three degrees it actually is during this late ‘tween time of day in the early ‘tween time of year. February. But no yellow crocus emerge from the frigid ground, regardless the fact that it is the birthing time that heralds spring.
Long, steel fingers reach out from the moist, wet mist as I shuffle-skate, almost falling, toward the holly bush that is my most ardent destination and my desire. The holly bush that is covered with honest to God/dess red berries…the color of blood and life. Oh, how I crave color. Red! It might have the power to shake this gray numbness from my icebound spirit.
The holly bush replete with red, ripe berries is a stark and deep, waxy green pitted against gray- shielded Grandfather Sun, and tinsel-colored Mother Earth. A cracked and ancient cemetery tries to break the monotony, alongside my gray fence. The nearby cemetery is littered with ancient rusted machines spread over a large expanse of muddied gray and dirty snow…mostly children and the elderly buried under those broken and sodden grave stones. Sad. I am getting weaker and can no longer stand without trembling minus the absent sun to brace-embrace me. The sun, too, it seems, abandons me to freeze without so much as a nod or a hey-la-day-dee-doe.
I step-stumble into a water hole of purgatory gray slush…another gray holdup to my reaching and manifesting the redness of life; the berries, the blood of creation and rebirth. As I stand there in the wet and cold, the holly bush seems farther and farther away. If I do not reach the holly bush with its gleaming red-with-life berries, I will surely succumb to the writhing of the misty gray wraiths peeking around every headstone in the graveyard torn asunder from stark blue lightning. No more to be seen again until spring springs. The dark green holly leaves and the scarlet berries are about as far away as my dull, gray-painted house…this, also, torn asunder by the tearing and wearing gray and ever encroaching elements. I am now in the middle…the gray, halfway point. To forge ahead, cold, wet, and freezing, or to return to the strangling, insidious, sullied warmth of the claustrophobic house with all its mildew, mold, and peeling paint is a decision I must now make. In truth, no matter how it seems, house and holly bush are quite equidistant. But, because I am soaked to my small bones, I see no option. I glance toward the house then turn toward it.
My feet feel heavy. I feel like I’m walking in snow up to my elbows…cement leaden feet; as lifeless as my dull, once blue, now gray, eyes are, I choose to follow the path of least resistance. I will freeze for certain if I do not return to what I once called a home. The path from where I step-shuffle-stumbled my way toward the holly bush is behind me, and already it is pulling more snow atop it. I sag further into my ash-like body. Just as quickly as possible I will change into warmer rags, and off to the holly bush I will trip-tramp again – as I still craved, must-have the blood of the berries. I want only the sweet color, not the toxic taste of death. I want to live, for why else would I seek the color so passionately in these times of the dull silver-gray ‘tween? I look over my shoulder to see the bare outline of the shimmering, now out-of-focus bright red berries to glean a little warrior courage and some repressed hope.
I make it back to the house in slow, cold, dreamtime. I drag myself in. I feel an invisible, soul-empty, appalling ghostly feeling not much more than thirty steps from the hearth-heart of the house. I had forgotten to stoke the fire. The dead-gray enmeshment was with me again. Apparitions…tin-colored and glinting wraiths swirl languidly around and through me. My heart cannot decide whether to stop beating or to continue playing its strange, syncopated dirge.
I have to…I must leave this bleak and even more deadly suffocation. No dry clothes for me. I would run, if only I could, just to get away from the insidious and mushroom-pigmented specters. Or, I will crawl if I have to. And, so I crawl. I make it. An hour it seems to take, but I reach my sacred blood-red berries of the holly just as the wan winter sun leaves the sky. Nightfall. Dark time. Night is the absence of all color, especially at the dark of the moon. I laugh a strange sound of hysteria. I grab the twisted and gnarled gray trunk of the holly bush and pull, with what little strength left to me, a branch full of the ruby-coated berries close to my breast. Oh, that I could suckle the red poisonous life from them and yet live.
No use. The sky is black. No moon. No stars. And – black is the absence of color. Black is the absence of color. Black is the absence of color. No lifeblood, no color for me. For the dark, moonless and starless night has covered and smothered the luscious red color just as a blanket shields a child’s countenance from mythical monsters. Mythical, hah!
I know now that I will die here, but it doesn’t matter. I, too, am old and gray. It won’t take long. I am more than just a little bitten from the frost. I cannot feel my hands or feet. I painfully stretch a smile across my parched, gray skin as I recall the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. I touch the berries and run my hand over that beautiful trunk holding the limbs of the holly berries closely. Tears rivulet down my wrinkled, sallow face as I say goodbye to this ‘tween world of gray, and hello to the Otherworld.
I hope holly bushes with plump, ruby-red, colored berries grow there. As above, so below. So, they should.
I smile as the final, frigid, silver-tin-gray breath leaves my ancient body. But, as breath leaves, I feel a foreign, balmy warmth reach for me with a gentleness long forgotten possible. I smile a different smile this time and willingly drop my tired and gray human overcoat and forget the holly bush of a past that no longer serves me. Another season is upon me. And, blessed it is.
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Location: Jackson, Tennessee
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