A Speck of Green

An old man sits cross-legged on the concrete floor of a small room, his bare back against the rough wall. The man’s mouse-gray hair sticks out in all directions, looking like a child’s frenzied drawing. His face is grimy, worn-out and scarred on the left side, the scar trailing down from under the man’s left eye and disappearing behind his full, mouse-gray beard.

The cell is 8" by 12", spare, cast in shadows. (The old man had counted out his steps after first arriving here, back when he was a younger man, back when he still had the energy to walk). It has an impossibly high, iron-grated ceiling, around which guards sometimes pass, and through which the old man can occasionally glimpse the moon and the stars. A silver lining, one might think, yet for the old man, it is anything but: the view of the outside world — with freedom so near yet so far away — only deepens his depression.

He has long since given up on fantasizing about escape plans or about any kind of life outside of the cell. This reality is the reality, he knows, and there is no use in thinking otherwise. No use. No hope. All he can do is be.

But then . . . To his left, in the corner of the room, something flashes. He cranes his neck — pain! pain! pain! — and sees, amid the drab grays and muted blacks of this cell, of this existence, a speck of green: a tendril peeking through a hairline crack in the wall, curling back on itself, like a finger that beckons him to follow.