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The Worst Kind of Evil MAG
White likes to pretend that it’s your friend. It likes to pretend that you’re close, and that it’ll keep you safe. It pretends to be the good guy, that it’s truly righteous. But that’s a facade. White is the worst kind of evil.
White isn’t order; it’s control. It may be clean, but it’s not a natural clean: it’s a slate full of memories and emotion that was wiped blank. It worms its way into your life. It grabs on tight, and it never. Ever. Lets. Go.
I’m six years old, and we’ve moved somewhere new – an apartment complex in the heart of Claremont. Somewhere with pretty white walls. White is boring to me.
“Can’t we paint my room blue?” I ask Mama. It’s windy today. Mama’s crimson hair whips back and forth.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she replies. “The landlady doesn’t want us to mess up the house with paint or posters. She spent a lot of money to get these walls painted.” Pretty white walls, pretty white walls that can’t be touched. Pretty white walls that are too pretty for Mama and me.
I’m fine with it, though. White isn’t so bad. Living upstairs was a new experience, and Mama was happy here. At least, she seemed happy. Things were starting to look up for us. I would soon start kindergarten – real school.
I’m nine now. Mama’s got a blue plastic cup in her hand. I don’t know where it came from. She’s had that cup in her hand for a while, and the only time she lets it go is to refill it. She doesn’t let me drink from it, and she’s been a lot sleepier lately. Too sleepy to drop me off or pick me up on time. “You’re gonna be late,” she says. Then she clicks her tongue. “Might as well get breakfast today.” I don’t mind being late, though. Mama seems happy still. Besides, the corks come in all different types, and they make for a good hobby. I collect them in a shoebox under my bed. It’s pretty much full. I’ll have to get another box soon. I don’t get why they call it white wine – it looks more yellow.
It is evil. That’s why they call it “white.”
Then it begins.
Mama doesn’t trust these pretty white walls anymore. She puts cameras up to find what they’re hiding. She puts Band-Aids on our computers so they can’t see us. She doesn’t spend much time at our house anymore. “I’m visiting Anna,” she tells me. “You know where to find me.” I listen to her walk down the steps to Miss Anna’s apartment, hear Anna’s blind old dog bark at the door.
I like to look down our flight of stairs into Miss Anna’s garden, bending so low I might fall in. Miss Anna’s garden is prettier than ours; it isn’t full of broken porcelain.
Mama replaces that blue plastic cup of hers with a bigger red one. The circles under her eyes deepen. Mama doesn’t really work anymore, but she’s still too tired to pick me up on time. She’s quieter now – doesn’t do much other than look at her computer. I want to say something, but I don’t know whether I should. After all, Mama’s home more often now, and although I feel selfish, I’m happy about that.
And then, it all comes crashing down.
One day Mama is looking at her computer and breaks out in sobs. She slams the screen shut and begs me not to look. She seems to be contemplating throwing the laptop against the wall. She motions me over and hugs me tight, too tight. Her tears are wet and hot, and her sobbing is loud.
“I KNEW IT!” she screams over and over. “I knew it, I knew it, I freaking knew it!” I don’t know what to do, so I just hug her back. I glance at the laptop curiously. That night we don’t stay within those pretty white walls; we stay in a motel room.
White: that’s whose fault it is. Later, I decide that I can’t stand those pretty white walls either.
After that, a lot of things happen real quick. I learn that third grade is going to be my last year at Oakmont. That upsets me – fourth grade is when we start the music program and take an overnight field trip in the desert. It upsets me, but I kept my mouth shut, remembering Mama’s sobbing. I never want to hear those kinds of sounds again – from anyone. So I say my good-byes at school and bid farewell to those pretty white walls. Mama doesn’t look back.
Everything changes. All because of white.
We move to a lot of places in the years that follow, but none of them have walls quite as white as the ones in Claremont. I know the names of places now. Claremont, Fontana, Ontario, Fontana, Upland, Highland, and finally Fontana again. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t been so selfish. I wish I hadn’t been afraid to ask Mama why she didn’t go to work anymore. I wish I hadn’t sat back and watched things happen to me.
Watched white happen to me.
“I’m sorry,” Mama would say.
“It’s only temporary,” Daddy would explain.
“It’ll get better,” they both assured.
I nodded, hugged them, and told them “I know” and “It’s okay.”
Mama didn’t get better for a long time, almost as long as it took me to discover the ugly nature of white. Now, I recognize it. Now, I see why white is the worst kind of evil: it worms its way into your life and befriends you. It destroys your life in such a subtle way you don’t realize what’s happened until it’s too late. By then, there’s nothing left.
Nothing but an empty plane of white.