The room was big, but full of people. Packed tightly, with blinding red splotches of color glaring from every corner. Glaring red, bold and bright and alive. The people were screaming, yelling, cheering. Jumping out of their seats, up and down so fast that if you kept your eyes on them long enough, your head would spin. Comments flew easily from their mouths:
"Shoot the ball!"
"Pass it to Torres!"
"Get on him, Landen!"
They understood what was going on. They knew the game inside out, knew who should do everything and what everyone should do. They knew who everyone was, on both teams and all throughout the gym.
And amidst all the screaming fans, there was me. Sitting in between a girl and a boy that called themselves friends. I was too embarassed to admit that I had already forgotten their names. They didn't even look familiar. Yet they greeted me easily, and natural, excited remarks like "Did you see that?" rolled easily off their tongues. They treated me as an old friend, but I couldn't remember a thing about them, including ever seeing them before. I don't know you! And I don't know what "that" you're talking about! I don't even understand this game!
But I didn't say that. Because it would upset them. And if there was one thing I'd learned since waking out of the dark, it was not to upset people. So I plastered on a smile, and forced my eyes upon the boys running up and down the court. I stood up with them and clapped along with them, cheering when the ball went in a basket, though I was having trouble remembering which side the red team was supposed to shoot on. They told me I was on that team last year. I was really good, they said.
Just that morning, I'd seen the picture of me with the team, in the display case. And I saw this boy smiling at me. He looked like me—but he wasn't me. He played basketball, he had a girlfriend named Amy, he had a best friend named Bright, he was loved by all. He was the cause of my pain. He made me hurt, because it was him that everybody wanted me to be. All these expectations—and I couldn't live up to them. Expectations from the two people who called themselves my parents to remember things. Expectations from Amy to like her or love her or whatever it was she wanted. Expectations from Bright to be his best friend again. Expectations from everybody for normalcy. Unspoken, of course, but there, burning at me, plaguing me. Be this, Colin! Be him!
The people who didn't know me were the easiest. No expectations. Like Ephram. Judging from what people have told me, I wouldn't have liked Ephram. Or rather, the other Colin wouldn't have liked Ephram. It seemed sometimes like they were talking about a foreign person, somebody who everyone knows of but you've never actually met. And they wanted me to be the foreign person that they'd never met. But Ephram was really the only friend that I had now. Everyone else, they were friends with him, they loved him. The boy in the picture. He was ruining my life, yet he was me. Or who I was supposed to be.
With Ephram I could be who I wanted. I could discover who I was on my own. It didn't make a difference to him. But even he didn't know just how much I was pretending to everyone. Nobody really knew.
And so I sat, in that big room. Everyone else around me was going to where they wanted to go; I was frozen in motion. The blur of red surrounded me, dizzied me, because even though their eyes were all on the basketball players, all I could hear was Colin! Be Colin! Remember! My eyes searched frantically for a face I knew, anybody I could remember. They found nothing. Not a single familiar face. Bright, Ephram, Amy, Dr. Brown, my parents—the few familiar faces—where were they? Look, Colin. The girl with the red hair. You know her. She's—well, maybe you know that kid next to her. Red jacket. He's—no. Who is he?
I was alone in a crowded room.
My eyes finally fell upon Amy, sitting near the front. She noticed my eyes on her, and though with sad eyes, she gave me a smile, which I suppose was meant to be reassuring.
It wasn't. The smile wasn't directed at me. It was directed at somebody else. Somebody who I didn't know how to be. Amy—she'd want me to be her king tonight. But she wouldn't really want me there. She'd want him there. Somebody else. And I couldn't be that somebody else for her. She was so sad; I couldn't let her down. I couldn't fake it.
Something inside my head was ringing. The room starting spinning, a room full of strangers and another life. Get out, Colin. You don't belong here. I got to my feet, mumbled something about a bathroom, and nearly raced through the bodies out of the gym.
Moments later, I found myself outside. I hadn't known where I was going, and my feet had taken me here. I was in the parking lot, surrounded by cars, and emotionally drained. I felt dead, lifeless, and I needed to find something, anything that would make me real again. I wasn't there. I was just floating around in somebody else's body.
I couldn't remember which car I was supposed to go in. I wanted to remember. And then I saw the red truck, gleaming and glowing among all the other white and black and silver colors. It was real, and it was there, and somehow I knew that was where I was supposed to go. It felt, strange as it sounds, like it was part of the Colin they wanted me to be. I had to get inside it and be him, and not let them down.
I frantically went to the door, wanting to be in the car, wanting my life to be real again, and I went to open it.
But I was stopped by reflection. A panicky, little child looked back at me. He wasn't the first Colin. He was the new Colin, the second Colin. The Colin I wished people would let develop.
Sometimes people looked at me like I wasn't real. They spoke to me as though I was the other person named Colin, too, and forgot about me. The me that existed now. The me that was there.
Staring hard at my reflection, I asked myself, What are you, Colin? Who are you?
I wasn't real. I got lost somewhere between life and death. The new me, was he real? He wasn't vibrant and real like those people in the gym. He was trying to be someone else. The wasn't existent. Not yet.
Figure it out, Colin! Do you want to keep being this other person, or do you want to try to find out who yourself is? Is there another "yourself"? Can you really be anybody else other than the Colin they want you to be?
I had to find out.
The hand that had been going to open the car door, found itself smashing through the car window, straight through the reflection of him, shattering the glass. There was no more him staring back at me. Just me.
I felt no pain. My hand was numb. But I looked down at my hand and the blood was there. Halfway there. Real and red just like the rest of them.
I got in the car and waited for someone to come out and find Colin the Second.
. E n d .
DISCLAIMER: Lauren is a poor working high school student. She makes minimum wage, and sure as hell doesn't own Everwood. So don't sue, because you're getting nothing.
(A/N: Takes place during "Colin the Second". Amazing ep, huh? Can't wait for tonight's episode, which is airing in—OMG, less that twenty minutes! Yay! I'm sure you'll all be glued to your televisions during the next hour, but afterwards, I hope you take some time to read! I was totally curious as to the real reason why Colin punched the window, because I don't think he was telling Ephram the whole truth, so I worked with some little details from the ep, and this is what I came up with. No time to proofread, so be kind. hehe.
Notice the mention of red. Make comparisons. That's all I'm saying. Some symbolism thrown in there for you, see if you can figure it out. I love it, and hope you will too if you figure it out. But if you really absolutely can't, scroll all the way down and it's explained. Symbolism's kind of a fun thing to play around with, and in this one, I tried to make it a little clearer. Tell me how I did.
I don't know if you guys will agree, but I absolutely loved the way this came out; it's one of my favorite Everwood fics that I've written. I'm very proud. So please review. As always, both praise and constructive criticism are welcome. Hell, flame it if you feel the need. Just as long as you review.)
If you look at every red thing in this story (the school colors in the crowd, the color of the basketball team's uniform, the color of the hair and jacket of the people he used to know, the color of the car), you'll notice that they all tie in with things that involve the old Colin, aka Colin the First. He used to be a part of that crowd, he used to be on that team, he used to know those people, and he used to drive in that car. The things represent Everwood and Colin's old life, and things that are real. Everyone else is a part of the red, and he's not. He's not real. He doesn't remember belonging.
Colin desperately wants to change that. He wants to get his old life back. So he tries to get in the car, and he realizes that he will never fully get his life back, and he's going to have to accept that. He's going to have to let Colin the First go, and Colin the Second live. But before he does that, he has to make sure that once upon a time, he really belonged in this town, that he really was red, and that the old him really was real. So he punches the image of the new him, symbolizing that he wants to get rid of Colin the First, because Colin the First is no longer real; he is nothing but an image. But Colin the Second is real, because Colin the Second bleeds red. He is red in there, just like the rest of the people of Everwood. I think that last line is very self-explanatory—Colin has decided to shed his former self, the person that everyone else remembers him as, and let the new Colin live.