Note: This was written for the Review Game Forum's April Writing Challenge Contest. Check out the other entries and vote for your favorites the 8th-14th. The prompt this month was: "Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart." -Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Additional Note: I've had moderate depression for over a decade and it has its ups and downs. This was written during a down and edited during an up and if anyone is concerned, I have never self-harmed and am not suicidal. My summary is truthful: this is not a cry for help, just a search for understanding. It is also somewhat exaggerated for artistic license; this is creative nonfiction rather than pure biography. Just so everyone is clear. :)

Grayscale

I always wake up before the alarm.

I dread the sound and the knowledge of morning so much it forces me awake at the first touch of daylight. Sunlight burns away the anxiety, razes the fear, and turns me to uniform char.

In the daytime there is only one feeling and that is resignation.

I resign myself to hollow observation as I go to work, go through the motions, smile believably but vacantly. I've been taught to fit in and never cause a stir so I repress, master basic conversation patterns and facial expressions, and for the most part I seem normal. I inspire a vaguely pleasant memory, unassuming and unoffensive. Facades paint a quietly average picture and I am the rock, the unchanging, the unflagging...a homunculus.

Inside I am a nonentity.

I am chemical awareness and feeling flesh. I am ash-tinted photographs from a camera with a dirty lens. I live in grayscale but ache for remembered technicolor. Some days I feel anger or fear but they dart away from the light and wait for the evening show.

In many ways, the lens flare days are better than the high definition nights.

Sunset revives a spark of interest as I'm left to my own devices. I ponder the world and all its vibrant agonies. As night sets in, so does the self-loathing.

I see uselessness. I see a waste of space; I do nothing, enjoy nothing, bring no light to a world that's starving for it. My life comes into focus and suddenly I'm a hundred failures and unachievements. I dwell on the void where passion and aspiration ought to be and I understand the tragedy in my perspective.

My own demise frightens me not from the ideal of a life cut short but my self-perception that no life ever existed here. I don't fear an absence of self because it's what I deal with each day. I cower at the thought that I could die without ever truly living.

Still, I know that's not true.

In sleep I dwell on flickers of rosy childhood. Memories and fantasies build a warming hope that I'll rediscover the full spectrum, from sorrow to joy in equal measure. Yesterdays and tomorrows flicker in my head, and I dream of accepting or even welcoming the day.

But I always wake up before the alarm.