The ground is cold. Stone, I know. The color I imagine is gray-the most generic in stone coloring. But, I can't know for sure. I can't remember that quick initial glimpse before the door close. The minor details that, for a moment, were visible. I wonder how much planning went into the construction. Some interior designer throwing fits straight out of some generic sitcom. "Oh, asymmetrical cracks are so fifteenth century!" Or, "So dark. Too, too dark. What are we trying to say here? Of course it has to be black, but does it have to be boring?" And, in the end, as in so many ends, traditional format wins over originality. Crushed are the solitary confinement interior designer's ideas. No flowered curtains. No potpourri-scented cracks in the stone for aroma therapy. No pleasant scenes of river parties and picnics in pastel on the walls, shrouded by black-unseen to the occupant, but leaving a hint of the warmth that could be if only there was a window behind those flowered curtains.
I wonder how much time has passed. I'll guess high. I'll say two minutes. Two whole minutes out of the way. In the bag. Only 1,438 to go. Probably need a bigger bag. I'm painting pictures now. Pastels-primary colors, too. River parties and picnics. Half family reunion/half miscellaneous gumbo-where Cousin Richie is eating sloppy joes with Larry Bird, my second grade teacher Mrs. Anderson, a stegasaurus, Optimus Prime, and Genghis Khan. They all sneer at stegasaurus, telling him to pick the meat out if he's such a herbivore or just eat the bun. Genghis is clutching a dagger tucked behind his belt, Optimus readies his lazer, Mrs. Anderson brandishes a ruler, Cousin Richie tightens his fists, and Larry Bird gets ready to shoot a barrage of free throws. If stegasaurus doesn't eat, this is how he'll meet his end. A concoction of dagger stabs, ruler slaps, lazer shots, cousin punches, and free throws to the head. They are only half kidding.
And while they're arguing, I'll paint a hole. A tunnel. An entire system of passages and when it's finished we'll all escape. Me, Cousin Richie, Larry Bird, Mrs. Anderson, stegasaurus, Optimus Prime, and Genghis Khan. We'll escape from pastel picnics and solitary confinement and poke our heads out of the darkness into a brand new world birthed from old ashes-a world made for us-by us-by me.
But before we can, the door opens. Light spills in and flushes out Genghis and Optimus Prime instantly. The light shoots down Larry Bird and Mrs. Anderson, erases stegasaurus and Cousin Richie, leaves me squinting. My tunnel isn't complete. Not even close. The light searches and destroys what little I have made. I underestimated. I always underestimate. Four minutes, four days. How can I count when it goes by so fast?
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