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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

    “Useful Grey” by Haley Schultz


    She sat at her desk and looked at the documents in front of her. The papers closer to the top were building permits for downtown Seattle. Just below these permits was a large blue paper that took up a majority of the desk. It showed a building, a house, that had windows from ceiling to floor and seemed to focus on incorporating as much of the outside as possible. A thin strip of light rested in the middle of the building. The sun seemed to notice her efforts and was deeming them admirable. She smiled at this thought and turned back to her blueprint, looking for errors.

    Suddenly the light that shone on her paper was disturbed by an outside force. She wondered if it was her cat, Curiosity. Curiosity was named well because he is a sneaky cat and his owners were always wondering what he was up to. Alas, it was not Curiosity. While leaning back in her chair someone managed to wrap themselves around her body. Impressive she thought. There was a slight peck on her forehead from this amorous house guest. She wrapped her arms around them in response and felt heat rise in her cheeks.

    “Good morning, Bette,” they said, sleep seeping into their voice. Bette found this good morning adorable and enjoyed her partner’s sleepy greetings.

    “Good morning to you too!” Bette said spinning her chair around to face the other person in the room.

    “I know you said to wait, but I’m just too excited! Can I start hanging up decorations now? I know it’s not for another few weeks but—” Bette’s companion was cut short by their overwhelming excitement.

    “It’s our anniversary. What will you hang up anyway? … Can you make little hearts and put our faces in them and hang those around the house? Maybe even some nice fairy lights too.” Bette said, feeling lighter as she saw her lover’s grin seemed to glow. Bette took comfort in this. The light from the paper may have shifted but now the most beautiful person in the world was shining onto her blueprint.

    Bette took this moment to fully take in the person in front of her. Their hair was smooth in some spots and out of place in others. It was clear that this person had slept the night before. Bette looked at their eyes to see if they had not slept well, but Bette noticed no signs of exhaustion. She did notice, however, love. The eyes in front of her were soft and whispered any emotions hidden in the messy head. Bette couldn’t take her eyes away from the ones across from her. They were a dark brown closer to the center and became lighter as the color edged outward. Bette thought they looked like the sun from the perspective of a forest. Their lips were especially puffy this morning and Bette wondered if it was because of allergies or tiredness. Bette closed her eyes and sighed. Sunlight was in her office, but she wasn’t concerned with it anymore. The sun existed in front of her, and she could never get burnt admiring it.

    Her personal sun was dressed in pajamas; the ensemble consisting of a long sleeve shirt and pants that were plaid. The pockets on the front, resting just above the sun’s hips, were too small to fit most things but held hands very nicely. The sun did not have shoes on for fear of being too warm. Bette stood from her chair and gave the sun one last embrace, the feeling of warmth not setting her ablaze, but calming her. It wrapped her in an embrace that could have thawed even the coldest heart, but Bette didn’t feel cold. She felt loved.

    Bette sat back down and turned her chair back to the desk. She could hear the sun entering the garage door and heard what she thought to be a struggle, and then the sound of metal against concrete. Bette was rising to investigate when the sun called out, “It’s alright! I’m okay. I just had a run in with our frosted ladder.” She was glad her sun was okay. Bette returned to her blueprint, but could no longer focus. Her mind wandered to a place that was somewhere else. It was far from the general population. It was quiet. Bette closed her eyes and let herself be immersed in this new place. She listened more intensely and heard animals. Birds. Bees. Deer snapping twigs and crunching leaves that had fallen from trees. She looked around to see a meadow. The flowers were purple and surrounded her on all sides. She was sitting in the middle of them all and could feel them swaying in the breeze. The flowers were encircled in a lush green forest. Bette couldn’t see through them, the trees were in full bloom. Suddenly the realization of the immenseness of the area around her plunged the rest of her senses into a euphoria. Bette could taste the things she saw in such great detail that she could barely breathe the air around her. She held her breath to regain some control of what she was feeling. There was a pain in her lungs and so she inhaled, the air smelled like lilacs. Her body relaxed and she fell back, grateful for her surroundings. Bette’s head floated to the ground and she felt herself sink into the soft grass. Her hands stretched out to grab the ground around her and she rubbed the leaves as they passed through her fingers. This is absolute bliss she thought. Bette closed her eyes and began to drift asleep. Her eyes felt heavy and her body continued to sink into the ground. Her arms lay across her chest, and her legs straight down. The air became cool. Rain poured from the sky, but Bette continued to lay.

    Bette awoke to her cat licking her face. Her head was on her desk. She had fallen asleep. Bette slowly opened her eyes to show Curiosity that she was up, and slowly lifted her head. “Hello, Curiosity. How are you today?” she said, looking at the cat with interest. Curiosity meowed in a way that seemed amused. Bette smiled, appreciating his performance. Curiosity’s tail moved slightly in response to this smile. The cat was a gray that could be explained as a dirty white with streaks of black parallel to the ground. Bette called those streaks “Curiosity’s Alas”. The cat’s face was stuck in a permanent look of indifference. Things that are foreign and things that are native didn’t phase Curiosity. He does, however, fake interest whenever his owner’s give him attention. Right now Curiosity’s tail was raised straight up in the air and occasionally flicked from left to right like a swinging pendulum. Bette looked at her cat and inquired, “Are you the new clock of the house? I would say that you’re the cat’s pajamas, but you aren’t wearing pajamas.” The cat blinked and from somewhere else in the house Bette heard laughter somewhere else in the house followed by,

    “The cat’s pajamas! Do you think we could buy cat pajamas?”

    Bette thought for a moment, “Maybe we could buy baby clothes and fashion them to fit Curiosity.” She heard the sounds of someone stepping down a ladder and excited running toward her desk.

    “Curiosity, would you like pajamas?” the sun inquired. The cat did not react happily to this and ran away, knocking down a bottle of ibuprofen as he went. The sun followed. Bette laughed to herself and stood from her seat. She turned around and headed toward the back of the house. Bette didn’t inspect her surroundings; she wanted the decorations to be a surprise. As she made her way through the house, being careful to keep her eyes faced toward the ground, she reached the back door. Bette looked outside the door, and her body felt a need to go outside. She slid the door open and headed outside.

    The air was warm and tasted sweet. The area around her backdoor was a patio, and it was lined with flowers. It was mid-spring, and by now the flowers were in full bloom. Bette crouched down to smell them. The flowers were orange and red, and yellow, and pink. Sunlight was on them now and the flowers seemed to glow. Bette wanted to sit right there with the flowers and relax, but something made her want to continue into her backyard. She stood from her kneeling position and turned to face her yard. To say that it was green would be an understatement. Bette’s head looked all around the area and she counted each shade of green she saw, but eventually she lost count. She sighed at this realization and felt peace knowing that she was guarded by this environment. The ground appeared to be white from the light of the sky, and Bette felt as though she was floating because she couldn’t see her feet. The ground was soft and seemed to part as she walked across it, going deeper into her backyard. She had a destination, and it was at the very end of the backyard. It was a veranda, the same one she had gotten married in several years before. It hugged the edge of the yard and bordered the forest that lay just beyond. Her feet touched the floor of the wooden building, and she felt the emotions she had on her wedding day. They attacked her senses and she dropped to her knees. There was a smell in the air that was intoxicating. A Garden had been planted there years before a week before her wedding. The flowers were dark purple, and rusty orange, and yellow. The yellow flowers rested farthest from the veranda, the rusty orange ones behind them, and the purple ones closest to the veranda, hugging its exterior. Bette fell from her knees and laid on the ground. There was an intense pain shooting throughout her entire body. She wondered why she felt this ache. Her eyes closed and she inhaled one final time the smell of the plants around her.

    The cat moved with grace out of the sliding door that had been previously left open. He wasn’t allowed outside due to the neighboring forest, but he did not care; he left anyway. He edged his way toward the back of the yard and his owner. She lay still, sleeping amongst a sea of flowers. Curiosity walked toward her, meowing as he went. Bette did not respond to his calls so he assumed she was asleep in this lovely place. He wanted to protect her. He stopped at a place by her stomach and laid down, curling against her body. His tail moving excitedly while watching the bees buzz around him.

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