Everything Was White, But Nothing Felt Innocent


It was white, the blindness of my hangover overpowering the depths of your bedroom. It felt like staring into the sun, how your eyes just lose focus and everything blurs into white. You always kept everything so dark; the blackout curtains, the dark sheets. Some days we would sleep until one in the afternoon and barely notice it.

The room was white-hot with silence. If I said a word, I knew it would burn a mark into this moment, a mark I’d keep on my skin for a long, long time until it faded to a ghostly scar. I knew what was coming. I knew that my rounds and rounds of drinks hadn’t shielded me from what you were going to say. I could read it in your eyes even though we weren’t saying anything. We didn’t say anything. I had forgotten about that kind of heavy silence, because at that point in my life I’d fill up silence immediately as not to drown in it. Silence was scary when I was just past 21. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned how to settle into it.

I got up and got dressed in last night’s clothes, all black against the pale of my skin and hair. “I guess I have some things to think about,” you said, looking at the floor. I didn’t want you to look at me.

I did not respond. I just left. I stepped out the door of your rickety old college house and the snow on that January morning was so white, as pure as it had been the day it fell. For some reason, that old snow showed no blemishes. Each pile was perfect, untouched. Someone had thrown some spinach out. I was infinitely, acutely aware of everything, from the chill of January wind to the scrape of your icy steps under my high-heeled boots. Spinach in the snow and one pallid tomato, as if someone had carelessly tossed a salad outside.

Everything was white, but nothing felt innocent. Nothing we’d ever done together was innocent. We’d go on to do worse. I’ve always said that loving you was black. There wasn’t anything pure about it.

John picked me up on the street in his old white Lexus and his eyes were red from crying. It was 11 AM and my bar tab from the night before was $50. Our headaches pounded in harmony. We ordered some radioactive eggs from a depressing, grey Denny’s and they tasted dull, days old. Both of us were weighed down with a sadness we couldn’t really explain, and we knew it would go away shortly. But it was OK to hide in it for a little while, to repent over our sad breakfast. If it had been a Sunday, we would have gone to church. But the snow would come down again that day and blanket the city, and us inside, in its eraser of white.