Staring at the back of my unopened eyelids, I take a deep breath and open them again. The ground is hard. My hands are heavy, and I curse my clumsy legs for giving out again.
My knees are scraped, but they’ll walk again. I keep my chin up, like they tell me to, and look around the little patch that is my world. Vaguely, I remember a time when it was so much brighter, so much more colorful. There are no colors today. My view has faded to the untouched page of a black and white coloring book.
I take my questions, the ones that tripped me, and fold them up as best I can. They are determined, these questions, to be heard and seen, and so they still stick out and wiggle, and the folds are jagged. With effort, I put them back into the Box of Unanswered Things, and walk, unsteadily, into my Black and White World.
How do birds and airplanes fly? What are spiderwebs made out of? Does Heaven have hardwood floors or carpet?
These used to be the questions, the ones that filled the Box of Unanswered Things, when my world that was the page of a coloring book was filled the rainbow’s full gauntlet. Back when The Box of Unanswered Things always had answerer, and if it didn’t, it didn’t matter.
It was full, that colorful world. It was happy and whole, smooth and not crumpled. The colors never quite fit into the lines, because even that perfect world was never quite perfect. There were nights I had to go to bed before the sun and there was taking of toys and there were plays left unfinished. But they were satisfied, the colors that filled the page.
I continue walking, struggling to keep the questions at bay, folded up, tucked away neatly in my pocket in the Box of Unanswered Things. I try to consider only the things I know, the things that are fact, the things that keep me upright on firm ground, however bland.
At first it isn’t too hard. I walk across the bridge, down the path, through the 2D trees. How do trees grow? The question pops into my mind with a burst of yellow. I squelch it, quickly, reminding myself that the answer to that can be found in a book. I continue down the path to the library, and the momentary color fades away. I am sad and relieved at the same time, because this question, I know, leads to harder, sadder, untouchable ones, but the yellow was so beautiful.
I continue walking, bracing myself as I prepare to cross Main Street. Questions are always waiting for me here. I see purple as I pass the man without a home and fight the question of why his life turned out so different from mine, and blue as I suppress the wondering that maybe he and I aren’t really so different. I rub out green as I pass the little boy with an oxygen tank, and put out a firework as I try to avert the stranded look in the eyes of his father. I erase fervently as I pass the woman fresh from the blow of a miscarriage. I wipe away red as I see the soldier carried home, stamping out the questions of why him and the further questions of why rich men fight wars with the currency of men and was it God or a gun that decided his fate.
I’m tiptoeing now,trying to keep my eyes down. How funny, I think with a smile devoid of humor, that the world used to seem safe, that questions resulted in learning, before they became so painful. I used to hope for a better world, for healing, for justice, and so I asked questions. But the questions, it seems, have turned on me, and turned on my world. All the questions seem to do is add to my confusion, and to my doubt, and deprive me of hope.
I’m by the graveyard now. I thought I took the path to avoid it, but it found me anyway. This is where my resistance to the questions is weakest, and, one by one, they seem to tumble out of my pocket, coming into themselves with splashes of color. What happens when you die? Why do others die before us, and why don’t we die together? Why is it lonely when they leave? Is there more than this? Is what I believe real?
All of the questions, coming together, to ask the big, haunting question I am afraid to know the answer to:
Is there reason to hope?
This question comes at me, too quickly, and I am back on the ground. I open my eyes, and blink a few times, still weak from its force. I look at that sky, that deep, colorless sky. The questions will not stop now, but pour out of me with a rush that feels as strong as the ocean. Because the thing is, that I have bet this day and this life and this eternity on the premise that there is reason to hope. But where is the hope in a world that seems hopeless?
I lay there for a long time, until the tide inside me runs its course. Finally, I touch my face, and find that it is wet. I stand and brush myself off. I continue walking. I go a few steps before I notice something different.
The yellow is back. It shines brightly in the sky. I cannot erase its glow, and I cannot shield its warmth. And so, amidst all the questions, the suffering, the wondering, the hopeless, I turn up my face to absorb the rays that cannot be put out by all the questions every Box of Unanswered Things.
For these are rays and colors of hope.