In the Dark by Nathan Dorer

March 21, 2018
The Blessing of the Guns by Sarah Nichols
March 23, 2018


In the Dark


Past the foot of my bed, a picture window framed a world covered in a static film. The scenery was still evident—a solitary tree against a row of high, well-maintained hedges—but my eyes had lost some of the nuances of the tree to fluttering dots of darkness. Leaves had merged into an amorphous green puddle that rippled in the wind, and branches faded into sticks that faded into the fine, dusty mist of actual night. From my position on the bed, stomach-up and arms draped overhead, I watched the sky falter without changing color—the sunset lent itself to the scene without the formality of angry reds and oranges, and instead quietly drifted toward a calmer, more pragmatic navy. My back sank deeper into my bed, and I felt for sheets with the sole of one foot in an effort to ground myself in a world quickly desaturating. I felt for the sensibility of cheap cotton, but found myself focused on flesh and bone, and how distant appendages could play with light.

Watching the rays that made it past the windowsill scatter across the cream-painted brick of my room, I took note of how they found their way into the pits of the mortar and backlit the dust and clutter of a room. Two pairs of jeans scattered across the floor became outlined in a light gold thread, picture frames on my desk became faceless rectangles, and hands were gloved in their own flittering silhouette. Inside, the ceiling served as patient zero for the impending nightfall; darkness descended from above and drilled its way into the corners and crevices of the room. The battle to hold onto the dying natural light left the rest of my senses electrified— I felt hair and skin in a microscope, and I became acutely aware of the faint breeze drifting in alongside the light.

The descending night had left everything in the room in its ideal. Imperfections were lost as my pupils struggled to hold their ground, and  my eyes cautiously gave ground on textures and color—everything near me had become a simple silhouette in an effortless grayscale. I was aglow with the simplicity of the scene—how lucky was I too experience something so perfect and so beautiful?  How lucky was I to see a world where I could exist in a space where texture and damage could be hidden and I could be left to wallow in the last of the light?


I whispered toward my chest, “You look really beautiful in this light.”


He took his head from my shoulder and sat up, his face and body concealed but the frame of his back illuminated by what was left of the day. The light wrapped itself around the back of his arms and carved its way over his shoulders, and I could see the muscle moving under his skin. For the first time, I heard real silence in the room: visual and auditory. He looked, to me, like something too good for this planet. The lack of light in the room left him textureless and simple. For an instant, none of his imperfections existed—how could something so unpretentious and uncomplicated ever be wrong? How could this figure in front of me, in all its simplicity, ever be angry or thoughtless or upset or damning? How lucky was I to experience him like this?


He took a moment to consider what I’d said, and laughed. “You mean in the dark?”

About the Author

Nathan Dorer is a 22-year-old senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he studies economics and literature.