Deep down Dusza knew he had missed out. It was not something in particular like an event or an opportunity that he had passed up. No, it was Dusza’s general preset every day he woke up. Some people are “outgoing,” some “nervous.” Dusza’s defining personality trait was “excluded.”
He stirred his coffee, clinking the rim of the mug over and over. He never even looked down. He poured the untasted coffee down the drain.
He turned away from the sink and the kitchen window that looked out into the neighbor’s garden, full and bright and green. He shuffled back down the hall, dark in the premature gloaming that settled in Dusza’s house in the early afternoon. He reached the bedroom door and nudged it open with a tired finger flick. He stopped in the doorway.
There, lying underneath the orange and red quilt was The Body. Dusza looked down with lukewarm eyes. This routine had repeated itself for long years, every single day. Ever since he was eight years old and The Unfortunate happened.
Dusza thought: Would it make any difference if The Body didn’t wake up today? Would anything change at all? Would the world notice? But these thoughts were a built in part of the day as well.
Dusza’s eyes jerked right to left as he swept the length of The Body. Thin, dark hair (gray creeping backward just above the front of the ear); scar at the corner of the left eye; lines around the edges of the mouth; shoulders, rounded and turned inward. Fetal position.
As Dusza made this mental inventory—another daily routine—he found himself wondering how this specific day came to be and why he continued to stay here in this house with The Body. In this place where The Unfortunate had happened. Where it had kept happening, week after tortuous week, for five fractured years.
The Body and Dusza were joined here in this place. They had opportunity to leave. Many times. They had even tried to together. But they found they could not. They both lingered here. Year after year. Until today, and now both of them gray and weak and exhausted. Withered like the neighbor’s vines in early November and just as brittle and parched.
The Unfortunate had defined them. It was terrible. But at least it was something they knew. The pain from it was real. But it was also the only thing that truly anchored them.
In these few seconds of thought The Body stirred. Dusza inched slowly back into the hall, creaking floorboards and shallow breaths, eyes on the door. The Body groaned into view. He stretched and looked around with spark-less eyes and then continued into the bathroom across the way.
Dusza quietly walked around the corner and into the sitting room. He sat on the floor and leaned against the coffee table. There was no other room that Dusza liked to be in. Dusza called this room The Yellow Room even though there was nothing yellow about it. The walls were gray and had always been gray. Dusza called it The Yellow Room because it was the way it made him feel.
The hallway made him feel Green. The Body’s bedroom was Red. The kitchen was Blue. And the office where The Unfortunate happened was Black.
The colors would sometimes whir inside of Dusza. He would think of an art teacher who showed the class a color wheel one day. She spun the wheel and Dusza was amazed that the colors faded into white as they sped and blurred into each other.
But for Dusza the colors inside of him never blurred into white. It was always a dirty slate brown gray. He knew it would never be like the spinning color wheel for him. That some colors of the spectrum had been lost to him and that he would never get them back.
The Body came into the sitting room and sharply thudded past Dusza. The Body was dressed neatly in a suit and tie. Dusza knew The Body would never leave him and that he could never truly leave The Body. But Dusza often felt left behind. While The Body went out nearly every day for work and other things, Dusza had not accompanied him in years. In fact it had been 15 years since Dusza had crossed the threshold.
There was an understanding between The Body and Dusza. They would always be together. The truth was they could not exist without each other. They knew this. But they simply existed together and nothing else. No talking. No touching. For health and peace, it had to be this way.
Dusza was hurt by the looks of others. Touch was unbearable. Both The Body and Dusza had felt this pain once. But over the years The Body had somehow numbed himself to the sensations. He no longer felt anything. It was only when he talked to Dusza or was with him that The Body could feel. And so they simply stopped going anywhere together and they never talked. It was the only way things worked. It was done out of love for each other, even if they themselves did not recognize things like love anymore.
The Body reached the door to the outside and put his hand on the knob. He paused, as he always did. He looked down at his hand and then gently, slowly turned his head left and glanced up and over his shoulder to Dusza. He thought the only prayer he ever had anymore, “Someday.”
He turned the knob and pulled the door and the house breathed in the sun and the outside. He stepped outside and pulled the door shut. The house rattled and sighed.
Walking up the path to the door the postman nodded. “Good morning, Dusza.” The postman did not wait for an answer and did not hand the mail to him. Dusza had stopped talking to him long ago; the postman couldn’t even remember when it was. Over a decade, for sure.
At first it had rattled the postman to look at Dusza back then—his eyes had become like windows to an empty house. No soul, no warmth, no light. Now Dusza was merely a landmark for the postman, just a part of his daily route.
Cody is both a writer and a pastor, and the only Flying M-Inkling Emeritus. He’s an idea generator, partly borne out of his eclectic reading style; he’s willing to discuss any of those ideas with anyone who wants to listen.