Michael Sain was a perfectly normal man. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and skin washed pale from too many hours spent brooding in front of a computer screen. He was in his early twenties, had a decent office job at some business firm, and he lived alone. He was a little sadder than most, a little more jaded than most; he thought about death a little more often than most and had nightmares a little more often than most men his age; but in all other respects, he was as average as could be.
His house faced a street usually free of traffic, from its vantage point sitting straight and clean between Michael's straight, clean neighbors. The house itself was rather large but attracted the attention of nobody. It was grey when the sun was up and a darker grey when only the light of the streetlamps were shining on it. The fact that it took on a slightly blue tint under cloudy days was the only vaguely unusual thing about it.
After coming home from work, Michael's evening slid into the tasks of making dinner and watching TV until he fell asleep. His meals tended to consist of things like Kraft dinner and Alphagetti, although his diet was varied enough to include such staples as potato chips and popcorn. He always drove his car during the rare occasions when he got out of the house, and on weekends he usually slept the day away.
His mind clouded by years of dull, uninspiring routine, Michael was therefore taken by surprise when he woke up one morning and discovered he was in love.
There was a woman who walked by his house every morning, just as he was stepping out to the car and remembering he'd left his keys on the kitchen table again. She was always the same, every time he saw her; she wore a white dress with silver, pearly buttons lining the sides, and a large sunhat. In winter, a long white coat covered her body, and its hood replaced the sunhat, but Michael was quite certain that the clothes underneath had never altered since the last seasonal change.
He'd never spoken to her before, nor she to him. Neither had ever given any indication that they were even aware of eachother's presence, as she glided daily past his preoccupied gaze. Michael could not even remember the first time she had begun this routine; it now seemed as if it had been happening every day for the last five uneventful years of his life.
Tuseday, however, caught Michael off gaurd.
That Tuesday started out like every other, as Michael stepped out into the grey shade cast by his grey house and suddenly remembered where he'd last left his car keys. Any other day of the week, he'd have shook his head in morning bewilderment and walked back inside to retrieve his momentarily forgotten posession. Today he got as far as shaking his head, but failed to turn around.
Instead he rested his arms on the roof of his car and watched the sidewalk that ran in front of his house. It wasn't long before the woman in white rounded the corner and headed down towards him, white high heels clicking against the cement.
His eyes followed her as she passed him by, but her gaze never wavered from the point directly in front of her; and soon Michael lost sight of the bright form of her body as it moved away down the street.
The rest of the day slowly rolled out before him, as if it were an immense grey carpet; the only difference beween the carpet of today and the carpets trod in all the years before was the sudden hurtling sense of loss he felt as he was pulling onto his driveway, safely at home.
Michael didn't turn off the ignition, but just sat there in the car, staring at the inside of the windshield.
He felt there was something he should have done that morning. He felt the numbness of a missed opportunity in his chest. The jelly-like fluids of an insect splattered on the glass before him seemed to glow with a greenish tint, as it was caught in the pool of light thrown from a streetlamp, and Michael stared at it blankly while in the midst of a mental freefall through vast, empty voids.
Eventually he snapped out of it and went inside, where he ate three packets of KD while sitting through a Bill Murray Marathon. In his current state of mind he wondered if it wouldn't be more entertaining to go sit outside and watch the bug fluids strewn across his windshield again, but the dullness of the last few hours were starting to permeate his consciousness once again and he figured there was no point. Whatever spark had turned his gaze towards the woman in white, whatever abyss he had fallen through while brooding in the car, had been overidden by the spectres of indifference. He slumped into bed without bothering to turn off the television set.
Fiction » Fantasy Rated: K+, English, Drama & Supernatural, Words: 20k+, Favs: 5, Published: 5/27/2003 Updated: 5/8/2004}
48 Chapter 1: life in shades of grey