The White World

by Rumor Mills

The walls are white and bleak while the chairs are hard and ugly. People sit staring straight ahead, trying not to think or thinking too much. The air smells heavily of antiseptics and cleaners. She shifts in her seat trying to find a comfortable position. It doesn't work, and she ends up in her original position. No one speaks. The only noise comes from the TV across the hall. "I'd like to buy an 'A'."

She shifts again, not as gently this time, and disturbs the man next to her. The chairs are attached and unmovable. She glances down, and finding the teen magazine in her hands dull, she stands up to stretch. She glances around. Her world is white. The only colors interrupting the white are those of the ugly brown chairs and those somberly sitting in them. She sits down and shifts, trying to find a comfortable position. She finds none.

The silence tightens around her chest, and she feels the urge to break it but doesn't know how. She can see the pleading in the eyes of those sitting around her in the world of white. She's not the only one who desperately wants the tense silence to end. What could she say? What could she do? She can't joke. Now isn't a time for joking and laughter. She yearns for it, the feeling of happiness. She's tired of the tears and the knot in her stomach.

She looks to the ground, the white tiled ground. She had already counted the dull white tiles of the floor, 86, and the indented white tiles of the ceiling, 24. She reaches down to itch her leg where the coarse material of the chair had irritated it. It is dark outside the window but blindingly bright still inside where she sits.

The tension in the air presses down on her, and all she wishes to do is escape. Escape from the white of the walls, escape from the stale air, escape from the silence. She feels small and helpless in this small space that seems to grow ever smaller by the minute. She has never been claustrophobic but finds herself wanting to be in an open field with no end in site. One filled with color unlike the colorless world she finds herself in.

Her watch beeps, bringing a momentary lapse to the silence. Another hour has passed. She wonders how many more hours are ahead. A minute ticks by slowly. Time seems to slow down in this ever white world. Seconds seem more like minutes, minutes more like hours, and hours more like days.

She wishes for the end but dreads it at the same time. She knows that only one thing could end it, and she doesn't want that thing to come about. While she would be free of this world of white, the real world, the one full of color, would be missing something, making it just a bit duller.

The end comes, and she is able to be free of the white world. Only not all of her has been freed. A little bit is still stuck in the world of endless white, never to escape.

November 2004