Danny found the book tucked away in a little nook in a bookshop he stumbled across during one of his many walks after Alex’s disappearance and Scottie’s death. He walked for miles all around the city, trying to see every street, every house, corner, garden, park, shop – he wanted to see the entire city, walk to everything. If he was walking, it felt like he was going somewhere, like there was an end and beginning he was approaching. Danny had done everything he could. What else was there to be done? He was one man now. One man with grief bloating inside of him, ready to split his skin at any moment. One man with manic grief brimming from his eyes, his hands constantly in fists to try and concentrate the energy, to prevent the grief from using his body to break walls or chairs, from breaking his own body.
The cover catches his eye. Blue. A deep blue. A block of white in the upper-middle of the book. The words on the cover are small. He remembers Scottie’s story about a deceased partner.
… blue was described as having healing properties … blue alone could save him … He wouldn't accept the fresh fruit and vegetables because they weren’t blue …
Danny touched the cover of the book with his fingertips, afraid to the open it. What good would it do? It did nothing for Scottie’s partner. It did nothing for Scottie. No sense in getting caught up in another useless amulet. Blue. What would blue do?
He walked away, tried to look at the fiction, but Danny had been having trouble reading lately. He couldn’t do it. He also couldn’t write. What would any of it do? What was there to be done?
The attractive covers of the books irritated him, the blatant marketing. The blocks of color, stark lines, images popped from the covers – it felt like he was being forced to stare into the sun.
Danny found himself wandering back to the book, wishing to be subsumed by the cover. It was like an ocean, like the sky, like some celestial heaven he and Alex had been barred from, and was now getting a glimpse through this book. Maybe he could meet Alex here. Ridiculous, even for me.
Danny opens up to the fourth page – he never reads the first sentence, he wants to read the fifth, sixth, seventh sentence, he wants to dive right in – and reads, ‘I don’t want to yearn for blue things, and God forbid for any “blueness.” Above all, I want to stop missing you.'
He chokes back a sob, immediately walks to the register with the book, frantically pulling out his wallet.
‘Would you like a bag?’ The teller asks, eyeing Danny, seeing the beginnings of tears.
‘No,’ he manages to croak, and hands over 20 quid. ‘Cheers.’
Danny needs to be alone. To find some corner, make himself as small as possible, as alone as possible. Above all…
He’d been struggling. Try to forget everything? Keep walking like he’d actually one day run into Alex? Bump into him as he rounds a corner? Embrace him again? Kiss him again? He didn’t want to forget the way Alex made him feel, he didn’t want to stop feeling that way. Danny was bursting with grief and love. The two were getting more and more muddled as time passed, as he walked more and more. Nothing healed him. This fucking book wouldn't heal him. It would witness his grief, it would reflect what he wanted it to, it would reflect what he didn’t want it to. What else was there to do?
Finally, Danny settled on a crate in an alley. He held the book like it was the most precious thing in the world. Maybe I can give this to Alex. I saw this, and this was the only thing keeping me alive until we met again. But he was getting ahead of himself, trying to write a narrative where there wasn’t one.
He opened to another page in the middle of the book: ‘It does not really bother me that half the adults in the Western world also love blue, or that every dozen years or so someone feels compelled to write a book about it. I feel confident enough of the specificity and strength of my relation to it to share. Besides, it must be admitted that if blue is anything on this earth, it is abundant.’
This time, Danny allowed himself to sob. Tears were falling on the pages. Every time he wiped his eyes, fresh tears fell, abundant as blue. Abundant as the possibilities he had felt when he would wake up next to Alex, when Alex would make him tea, when Alex would rest his head on Danny’s back, sighing with relief or pleasure, when Alex would grin at some crap joke Danny told. And still, these things were abundant, blue was abundant. That’s what hurt. Danny saw these possibilities everywhere he went. He felt them in his body, in his memory, in his fantasies. What did these possibilities do? What is the function of this abundance?
Danny turns to the last page. For now, he cannot stomach the middle. This walking, this manic grief like air and stone. The book has an end. It has a last sentence: ‘When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.’
There will be more tears, more walks, more grief festering and blooming, more blue like truth, blue like beauty, blue like light.