October 20th, it has been a year since contact, 10 months since the disaster and six months since the horrible letter. He could not feel it, but he could tell. The process was there, it was happening. The evidence was plain to see. His reaction to daily events, the irritation with stupid people doing stupid things, the verbal retorts when interrupted or pressed with a question he’d already answered; the total void of any pleasure in activities that had been joyful just a moment ago – although that “moment” was actually months in the past. He knew this was not the nominal pattern, first spring then summer, summer followed by autumn, then winter with spring soon returning. It had been winter for oh so long before that brief spring. Too quickly autumn had arrived and now winter. Winter was getting colder and the nights longer.
He was surely returning to his previous state. All the evidence was there. The “state” in its simplest analogy was like a light bulb, being either on or off. But not that simple, a perspective – how things looked. Standing here and looking there, he would see buildings and the road, turnaround – the park and its river, the mountains and sky. Walk a little further down along the road and there was the Victorian Bed and Breakfast Inn located just up a hill besides a meandering road that switched-back and forth as it climbed the hillside. The “state” was his position and location and determined how he perceived the world and how the world perceived him. He was returning to his common state, his known or previous state that had been apparent for so long that he didn’t even realize that anything other existed or could exist. He thought that this was who he was, how he was born, how he grew up and how he would die – like the colors of one’s eyes. But what of all your life your eyes were brown and suddenly, one morning you woke up and they were blue? Would you question your notion of just who you were? Maybe not, but something had happened to him on contact – his stated change – same person – different person. That change was chaotic, abrupt – state A – POP – state B. Now he was reverting back to state A – not so abrupt. Sometimes A, then B, oscillating, cycling, and then rapidly flip-flopping from one to the other, one second A, another B. Sometimes so rapid that they merged, superimposed, A–B at the same time, but also not A–B. He could tell it was occurring, but he could not feel it, the ever imposing presence of what had been the norm, the rational again becoming supreme and ultimate – the Guardian of his sanity.
This guardian would protect him, keep him from being hurt, pushed the pain away. The Guardian would keep him safe.
Why did this matter? Even the Guardian knew now the price he had paid all those many years ago when it first stepped up to protect him. What happened a year ago on this day? He’d written her a simple letter, no more special or deep than a note saying how nice the weather is today. But in that process overwhelmed him. He knew he had liked her. She was pretty, smart and there was something else; something he could not verbalize. Why the attraction? But that was such a long time ago and he put that behind him, he’d forgotten her and moved on, or so he thought.
It was a lie.
Only upon writing the letter did he recognize the existence of the lie. He had not forgotten her, or moved on at all. He had squelch, suppressed, buried those feelings and memories of her. Push them way down, deep and covered them, left them undisturbed for decades. Now those emotions exploded to the surface. This surprised and disturbed him. Even more disturbing was the other. The other being that emotional state he went into upon receiving her first reply. Where did that come from? Truth was it was not just the memory of her that had been buried but all sorts of emotions, traits, perspectives that logically had nothing to do with her nevertheless they were linked – no, bonded to her.
He had a muse! He had not known he had a muse. He knew, as a child, he had won a couple of small awards but he had no passion for music or writing or art of any sort now. The closest he could recall having the passion for was writing computer programs. Optimizing the code for size, speed and clarity, then watching the results displayed. He would become so involved that hours would pass – he would lose track of time and not eat. Only a few of his computer nerd friends appreciated the beauty and eloquence of these programs.
“So it draws circles?” someone would ask.
“No, it’s not just circles…” and off he would go explaining the algorithm and its results until they would excuse themselves and walk quickly away with a puzzled look or one of relief having escaped with their sanity intact. During that brief interlude, after contact, he found that he liked reading fiction other than science fiction. He not only liked it but he had ideas, inspiration for stories and poems. He saw opportunities for photos everywhere, things he had looked at all his life but had never seen. He was seeing the world through the eyes of a small child where everything was new and it was wonderful.
He didn’t ponder at how he had arrived at this new state, there were too many amazing things to see and do-and never enough time. People noticed. They commented and complemented him. He was fun. His wife told him he was the husband she had always wanted.
Then disaster; he didn’t want think about it, much less talk. It was abrupt, catastrophe and created a new state – Gray. The world was black and white, not in a morality sense but in a monochrome color sense. Oh he could still see colors, but they were almost as if color was just a label with no life. He was emotionally distraught. His responses were all emotion. Reasons struggled to reassert itself. Reason tried to make a bargain to regain control, allowing him believe a lie. Reason told him that the belief is false but thought better than to force the subject until necessary.
“She is a reasonable person; we can be congenial? – Right?” His emotions would ask.
“Don’t do it!” Reason would say.
“But why? This would be helpful to her. She would understand that.”
“No! She will never understand your motives. She will misinterpret. She will be angry and afraid and you will be hurt again.”
“But there’s a chance…”
“No, there is no chance; it is not to be!”
Reason was right. Reason had always been right in the past. Reason is always right. That is why reason became the Guardian in the first place. But why must everything else, all the inspiration, etc., be bonded to her? Why did that have to disappear too? Reason had no answer for that; Reason only knew that it was. Reason knew what was and Reason knew what wasn’t but didn’t know why. Reason could build a wall to protect him, but it didn’t know how to give a hug to reassure him.
He picked up the pen to try to jot down a short story. He sat there. There was nothing to write. He felt nothing. No sadness. No despair. The muse was gone. He put down the pen and closed the journal, got up and walked away without recriminations or a second thought.
The conversion is complete.