So it had finally happened. The doctors were right; his life had changed forever. No longer would he be able to see the world as he had before. His beloved garden would not be the same. Even his wife of twenty six years would be different.
Henry vainly rubbed his eyes, hoping to reverse the effects. On opening them, the world presented itself in the same way as when he had woken up. It was as if all the colours had been wiped clean by a magic eraser. Only black and white remained from the spectrum. The thought depressed him and made him think back to the day his life changed.
Six months ago, he had been a taxi driver. Ferrying people from one place to another for eight hours or more, each day was a dream job. He had seen people from all walks of life, from city executives to single men leading double lives. Each offered him a small glimpse into their lives, which fascinated him. It was the sole reason he picked the job.
Then, while running late, he had forgotten to put on his seatbelt. It did not bother him at the time, after all, it had happened before. But when he was hit by the lorry, he regretted the decision instantly. With nothing to halt his progress, Henry had gone through the windscreen and landed on the bonnet. By a miracle, he had avoided serious injury.
After a week of recuperation, his vision had started to change. Henry did not want to admit there was a problem, but after the strongest of colours turned pale and insipid, he knew he needed help. On visiting the doctor’s, he was greeted with an appointment to see a specialist. This was no ordinary specialist either as it involved a trip to London. All the way there, Henry feared the worst; that he would lose his vision.
What he had not been prepared for, was the diagnosis; he was going colour blind. Only when the man explained that it was likely to progress to monochromatism did Henry start to feel anxious again. He did not want to believe that it was going to happen, but the specialist assured him that it would. Over time, Henry’s eyesight would deteriorate so that one day, he would no longer see colour. That day had now arrived.
Henry got out of bed, washed, changed and then headed downstairs. His wife, Anne had left to go to her bridge club and saved him from the shock of seeing her. After breakfast, Henry walked into the garden. The brightness and heat told him it was a sunny day. It was a subtle way of telling him that his eyes were lying.
Typically for a late spring day, all the flowers were in bloom. He had intended to make a tour of the garden in the hope that something might jump out at him. But, on seeing the greys, he grew sad. He turned away from the plants and made his way over to the gazebo. He had designed and built it himself so he could bask in his garden’s glory.
Now, it felt like a prison. A prison designed to remind him of his permanent disability. The bars threatened to overwhelm him until he closed his eyes. At least in his mind, he could be free. There, he could see the world as it was meant to be.
Daffodils wore their yellows and white proudly. They were humble when compared to the showy geraniums. Their reds, blues and whites reminded him of the union flag. He pictured himself walking from flower to flower, his feet pressing flat the blades of grass. Moving around, he came to his favourite part of the garden.
A path of bluebells lay before him. It passed between his apple trees and wound it’s way around the back of the shed. From there, they blended into the woods at the back. The white apple blossom contrasted sharply with the green leaves and the blue carpet below. To Henry, this was the culmination of his hard work, now it was just a shadow to him.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, followed by a familiar voice
“Are you all right, Henry?”
“It’s happened, my love.”
“I’m so sorry.”
Henry refused to let his eyes open as he talked to his wife. It could not stop the tears from making their tracks down his face. Anne leant forwards and rested her head on his. She comforted him as best she could, in this his most difficult hour.
“Shall we go inside?” she asked, once his shoulders stopped moving.
Henry nodded in reply and they made their way back to the house. Before entering, Henry looked at his garden once more. A thought occurred to him as he stood on the threshold. The garden may have lost it’s colour, but it’s beauty still remained.