Writings: Grey/Colour / by Ailsa Fineron

This is a piece I wrote a while back. I stumbled across it and thought I would post it here as I think it gives a fairly good peek into my world when I'm low. Please do not read this if you are likely to be triggered by descriptions of depression, detachment and so on. Take care of yourselves. 


The world is blurring again. Clear, clean lines which used to slice the colours into lovely shapes of startling originality are smearing, dragging the colours with them. As though someone has unthinkingly wiped their thick, clumsy hands on the landscape and left behind a smudged vision streaked with that unromantic grey brown you always mixed with your primary school paints. The disappointing sludge your vivid blue hippos wouldn't bathe in after they'd glimpsed the royal purple splendour you'd been planning behind your hopeful eyes.

There's a detachment. Sitting in a cool train carriage, the air growing hotter with the pressure of all the words thrown so carelessly into it by moist, hungry tongues.

I can almost see all these words gathering, like so many overfilled balloons, above the busy heads. They are brash red and yellow and blue, rubbing against each other, squeaking and screeching indignantly causing inconsequential lightening bolts of static.

But I don't feel trapped. I am indifferent to the balloons gradually padding the carriage, lining the sides and ceiling so they come closer and closer. And to the man with the fat slug lips and greasy eyes crawling over my face and body. Usually it makes me want to scream and run. But I am calm and only faintly puzzled in my old cloak of warm fog.

It’s been one hundred and eighty seven minutes on this train. I’m travelling towards you and I know I should be feeling.

It’s been around seven weeks since I last saw you. Still my heart rate is steadier than the wheels on the smooth steel track and I know I should be feeling but all I can focus on is letting my vision slide in and out of reality.

The remaining two hundred and three minutes pass by me without even lifting a strand of hair. Bristol station has automatic barriers and for once I am grateful for technology’s ignorance of romance. In the three minutes it takes to step off the train, mind the gap, walk down the left side of the stairs, through the concourse and the upright bodies shuffling, standing, leaning, shoving up the exit stairs I try to hoist a genuine smile onto my face. Imagine pinning it in place with kirby grips: two for my lips which feel heavier but thinner than usual, and two for my eyes. I think that maybe I should have applied some brightness to my eyelids and lashes to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm but settle with the old excuse of fatigue instead.

By the time I have fed the eternally ravenous barrier my ticket and stepped into your arms I feel that there is at least a curve to my mouth, though it feels more like a parabola than a rainbow. I almost wish I had a mirror to check if I’m remembering properly but then am thankful I can’t see the vacant look in my eyes.

It doesn’t seem to matter anyway because you keep me buried into your chest, in your warm cave of arms around me and chin on my head, for so long I feel myself stiffening up. I missed you. I missed you too. I don’t like lying to you but it’s easier with my eyes closed. Besides, I am sure that you will hear the numbness in my voice and call me out so I won’t have to confess. You don’t though and again I wonder at how often and how easily humans are deceived into thinking they can understand one another.

We walk the twenty minutes to our house in silence after a How was the journey then? Fine. I’m just tired. The train was at five thirty this morning. I’m relieved our time together has made silences normal and allowable.

Stokes Croft looks like a city. The murals and graffiti are still there, but they seem faded. The colours blend into the chewing gum studded pavement and it’s hard to distinguish between them and the leaden sky hanging heavy: its bloated belly prodded by the rooftops’ insolent chimneys and satellite dishes. The air is too hot and liquid. Walking requires pushing through it. The sickly custard resistance makes me sweat. I will have to shower again.

I showered last night. The first shower I’d taken in over a week. There was no point before: you only got dirty again and I didn’t even get dirty lying in bed or walking the same route around the woods again and again. It just seemed another pointless exercise that people use to fill up time before the next one. But I wanted to enjoy this time with you and that meant you treating me as normal. Me being normal. I suspected you would begin to worry if I turned up in a baggy faded t-shirt and pyjama bottoms with stringy, oily hair and smelling. I knew you knew that it took a lot for me to start smelling. So I had showered. And to my surprise it had felt good. For a short time I had felt clean and new in my fresh pink skin.

Now though, my cotton shirt is sticking to me and my bra -this being the first time I’ve worn one for a month- prickles and compresses my chest and lungs with its please-love-me lace.

Our shabby house is still new to us and I know it is lovely. I know it is because we looked around it twice before we rented it and I could feel the colours and light through the windows then. I say It’s lovely. and The kitchen’s even bigger than I remember! because I know that these are things I should say. I pull my smile back over my face with my cheeks. It feels wrong but I trust in your assumptions. Yeah, it’s great. with a squeeze round my shoulders. Keeping pulling. Keep pulling. I’ve never needed this much tension to express happiness. Then I remember I’m faking it.

The fog remains. Even as your mouth closes on mine, hungry, I taste tendrils of creeping smoke on my tongue. Cold fire. Your lips -usually unbearably soft with tenderness- are just lips. I move mechanically in response. I try to match my breathing to yours and mimic your moans and murmurs, but softer, because I can’t remember if I’m doing this right.

You are inside me now. I’m amazed that we are as close as we can get and you still don’t feel cold. I open my eyes and watch you for a while, oblivious, and so far away. Then I examine the ceiling. Note the damp patches spreading from one corner and how the light is ever so slightly off centre. Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough. So I shut out the imperfections and focus on matching your movements. I think how much I love you but I can’t remember why. Or what it is.

After a time you become still and hold me, kissing me sweetly on my forehead and then my lips and neck. I remember being unable to resist your touch on my neck. You kiss me again along with I love you. I open my mouth to reflect yours but I can’t say it back. It isn’t true at this moment. I think I do know what it feels like to love someone. I know the familiar all submerging wave of overwhelming love, descending on me and leaving me drowned and aching but happy. I do know it. But I can’t feel it. The distance between knowing and believing is vast. And I am so tired. So I contract my arms further around your body and nod, burying my face further into the safe place between your collarbone and jaw.

Are you okay? Yes I’m fine just tired.

It’s you who falls asleep first though. I lie awake with my eyes open thinking of ways to leave.


Feeling again and forgetting. Forgetting the ability to flip the world and its people, places and animals into oblivion. Once again, the purpose of life is to enjoy it as much as possible. But the flawed logic remains stamped over and over across the inside of my skull by mechanical thoughts- there to read when my eyes close and roll upwards.

But I’m hungry again. Food tastes good. It tastes of different things. I relish the crunch and then sudden give of baby spinach leaves and their earthy green wholesomeness. My knife spreads the smoothness of the unblemished flesh of an avocado across crisp toast. It tastes wonderful. Everyday I eat at least one avocado and my housemates say I should vary my diet more but this is what I want to eat and I enjoy every bite and lick of my lips.

And the house is lovely. The kitchen is big and my room is welcoming. I decorate it with pictures of friends I can smile effortlessly at again. Friends I can look at, frozen and glossy, and have to take deep breaths to ease the pangs of sadness at missing them and their laughter. I build a reading den with sheets, pins and fairy lights in one corner of my room and hide away in it with tea and a book, utterly content.

I enjoy this as I can.