I went to bed just after midnight, and stirred at 6am, checking my phone through squinting eyes. I opened Twitter and slowly came to understand a new truth: While I was sleeping the world had changed.
I'd gone to sleep an innocent, amused at the antics of llamas, but I'd woken up in a post-Dress world. Life would never be the same again.
Outside, an eerie calm.
9:04am. It's a crisp February morning and the sky is bright and clear. In a post-Dress world I'm hesitant to describe the colour, but it is quite beautiful.
As I left the house, I envisioned tribal warfare; packs of white-and-gold truthers hunting down the black-and-blue believers, but there was no bloodshed. Buses roamed their regular routes, pedestrians went about their day, the pavement free of eviscera.
Where were the riots? Where was the chaos? I wondered if the blood had been washed from the streets before I woke.
Everything was blurry.
Maybe it was just sweat or other grease covering the lens, but maybe it was something else making the world a blur. A lack of coffee perhaps. Light refracting in a strange way. In a world that couldn't be certain about the colour of a dress, what could we be certain of anymore?
The train platform at Haggerston was scattered with people. Rocksalt crunched as I walked. Commuters kept to themselves, nobody flying colours, no punches thrown.
I typed a note into my phone: Strange things are afoot on the Overground Line.
Everyone seemed calm. Too calm...
At Whitechapel I switched trains, as usual. If I didn't know any better I'd think nothing was wrong. Everything, everyone, was so normal. Why aren't they talking about The Dress? I thought about grabbing the guy next to me and screaming "WHITE AND GOLD!" into his terrified face, but this is London. I don't speak to strangers unless it can't possibly be avoided.
I was refreshing Twitter every few seconds, panicked. I hadn't invented the whole thing, had I? No. No. Others knew. Everyone on Twitter, it seemed. But out here, in the world, the creeping silence spoke volumes. HOW CAN YOU GO ABOUT YOUR LIVES PRETENDING NOTHING HAS HAPPENED?
I had seen behind the curtain, and I would not be silenced. The Dress will out.
The train also lacked bloodshed.
If Bong Joon-Ho's 2013 masterpiece Snowpiercer taught me anything, it's that trains are rife with carnage and bloodshed. But my commute continued to be safe and pleasant.
On the train the people read quietly, nodded with the rhythm of the carriage, streamed podcasts through headphones. I fiddled with my phone, shaking, nerves shredded, watching hot takes fill my timeline while the conspiracy raged around me IRL. Perhaps these people had been stolen away in the night had their minds wiped. Perhaps these were clones. Perhaps they were replicants. PERHAPS IT WAS THE INVASION OF THE GODDAMN BODY SNATCHERS. I checked over both shoulders for Donald Sutherland.
But somewhere between Aldgate East and Liverpool Street, it struck me. What a fool I had been! The faces surrounding me were so peaceful because they didn't know.
These were pre-Dress people in a post-Dress world.
I regarded the ignorant masses with a combination of fear and jealousy.
Peering over the top of my book, I watched them loiter in the uninterrupted bliss of pre-Dress thought, their tiny minds yet to be expanded and then torn apart by the dangerous effect of refracted light on fabric.
And yet some of them were staring at phone screens. How could they not know?! Perhaps they were in denial. Perhaps they just didn't use Twitter. Either way it was madness.
The thought of them disembarking the train and finally arriving at The Dress made me burst into uproarious laughter. These poor mortals, what fresh hell awaits them yet.
Perhaps I was still dreaming.
At Farringdon, pre-Dressers scurried to their places of work, no doubt minutes from the epiphany, amusing themselves with the trivial and passé – some sparking cigarettes, others fighting for places on the pavement.
I stifled giggles and without my book, realised I appeared quite mad. Madness, it seems, is relative in a post-Dress world. For a moment, lacking validation, I entertained the notion that I was still dreaming. The serenity of the morning but a fleeting figment of an unconscious mind.
Then I found a cone on top of a car.
The cone sat on the car staring at me. I looked around, but no one else seemed to notice. HOW COULD THEY NOT NOTICE. I fell to my knees. This was proof of something, I was sure of it. They all knew. THEY ALL KNEW. They were laughing at me. Quietly mocking my descent into oblivion.
I felt their taunts and as I hurried toward the office, the burn of their whispered jeers. I scowled back at them, barking and incoherent.
WHY AREN'T YOU TALKING ABOUT THE DRESS?!
The coffee shop was full of apathy and regret.
The barista at the coffee shop regarded me with tired eyes, her normal sunny disposition replaced with unbridled disdain, the result, no doubt, of being up all night tilting her phone to a hundred different angles trying to see The Dress as either blue and black, or white and gold, depending on her initial impression. Finally, a kindred soul afloat in a cruel sea of unbelievers.
She suffered through interactions with the pre-Dressers in front of me, a barely contained rage permeating her manner. Eventually we met eyes and I asked for my coffee black. She visibly twitched at the mention of colour, but managed to subdue any violent tendencies. She knew I knew.
My first post-Dress encounter of the day had ended without incident. Now I had both coffee and validation, the most dangerous combination since white and gold.
A new truth.
In the office, raised voices fired at me from all sides. As I sat down at my desk, colleagues were dividing desks, separating the office between factions.
Fists began to fly with smaller furniture items, anything not bolted down sailing across the office as all out warfare broke out in the news room, when a stray colleague entered unawares.
"WHAT COLOUR?!" the office demanded.
"I don't really have an opinion," he shrugged, throwing off his bag.
"BUT! BUT!" The room had been rendered speechless, the battle subdued with a single blow from the mouth of indifference.
I looked into my takeaway cup and arrived at a new truth: In a post-Dress world black coffee is just a very dark brown.