Winter Light

by Zach Yontz Read author interview March 19, 2018

In the morning, I am surprised to find that I have lived through the night. There is grey light behind the blinds. I roll over and check my phone, look at the time, turn off the alarm before it rings at me. My girlfriend sleeps still under heavy blankets that make her disappear. I get up gently and go to the front door and look out the window at the top of the door. I try to stare into the sky.

When I say that I used to have a brother, what I mean is my brother still lives, is somewhere doing some thing, but is no longer doing it in the context of being my brother. I want to make sure that this is clear, that whenever the sky swallows me, there is a record of this.

I self-consciously make coffee in a too fancy glass carafe. I set the timer and measure the water’s heat. I touch the wood handle. There are shadows moving outside the windows, shadows of trees and other things, the sound of a train in the distance, the sound of cars not so far. I think sometimes that the sound of the train is somehow amplified by the fan over the stove, that when I’m cooking there I can hear the train coming and going.

Three weeks ago the light changed through the blinds. It went from golden soft to a flat grey, a monochrome filter placed over every natural light. But try as I might, I can’t get anyone else to see it. I am told it is a mistake in my brain, in my eyes, that everything is the same. But when I look up into the sky, I see the circling thing, I see the dark blur growing. I know it is coming, but I can’t warn anyone but myself.

I have stopped going to work since the smudge appeared in the sky. I didn’t really quit, although I think it was clear at a certain point that I was in fact quitting. It had become a sort of sad game, seeing how long I could go in while doing so little without anyone doing anything about it. I look back now and think, what the fuck man. This was an easy job. It was money. Just embrace how things are and enjoy what’s left.

When I say that I used to have a brother, what I mean is that I had a brother and we did things. We did great things. We traveled far and saw deep canyons and high peaks. We felt snow on our feet and tasted a long day.

Every day the clouds are replaced by indistinctness, curdling at the edges like a book left near an open flame. I look outside in the morning and think they are getting lower, lower towards me. E says no, the clouds remain as clouds, the sky remains autumn and the clouds move swift and light. I see them growing heavy, melting into themselves, a hazy blank darkness. I know how this sounds.

I leave the house and walk to the grocery nearby. I sneak a flashlight in my pack against the growing darkness. I look in vain for the glow, but mostly I buy bread and eggs and candy, lots of candy. The fleeting sensation of chocolate in my mouth or of the mashing of bright flavors. I struggle to breathe as the sky flattens to dark grey, no clouds, just the haze, haze everywhere.

I was once driving through farmland, alone deep in the Midwest. Between the rivers, in the rutted corn fields, fog spread high and thick.

I had a brother once. We flew places and back. He came to me, and I to him. One day he did not want this anymore and I did not understand. I did not and will not understand. I cannot and do not understand.

Every night now I wait. It doesn’t get dark or light at night; it is grey and grey and grey. The haze lowers itself over me, pushing me closer to the ground. Soon I don’t think I will be able to make coffee unless sitting on the floor. Soon I will not be able to sleep in the bed, but on the ground. Soon I will have to dig and dig if I want to escape it, into the ground, digging and digging for light.

About the Author:

Fiction editor of Gigantic Sequins. Bus rider.

About the Artist:

Find more of Larm Rmah's photography at Unsplash.