“Things became gray.”
Blair looked up from browning the meat for the chili. Jim was sitting at the table not peeling onions as he had been instructed to do. He stared off into space. Blair could tell immediately that this wasn’t a senses zone-out. It was the speaking in past tense that clued him in.
“Yeah?” Blair said, as if he knew exactly what Jim was talking about.
“Sorry, Chief,” Jim said, shaking his head. He wrinkled his nose. “Why do onions have such a stench?”
“You don’t want onions in your chili?” Blair asked.
“I didn’t say I didn’t like them. I just said they smell strong.”
“Is that what you meant by the gray bit?”
“Gray bit?” Jim looked confused.
“You just said, sometimes things were gray or something like that.”
“Oh.” Jim looked contemplative. “Yeah. I don’t know why. Sometimes I just start thinking about Peru. I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”
“Flashback,” Blair said, nodding. “Happened to Vietnam Vets all the time.”
“Yeah,” Jim said. “I was just thinking about how when I was in the middle of the jungle, after a time I didn’t think it was so bad. I got used to it.”
“Perfectly normal.” Blair said. “Us humans are surprisingly agile at adapting to whatever circumstances we’re thrown into.”
“Shades of gray.” Jim chopped at the onions with a decisive chops of the knife. He looked up at Blair’s eager face, and thought that he was glad that there were shades of gray in everything in life, including all of his relationships.