Weekend Fiction: Colorblind

Yes, she said.

You’re sure? Lux asked.

Yes.

Okay, Lux nodded. Okay and turned the lock on the door.

So where do you want me? she huddled in a dressing gown borrowed from the life drawing club. Thick socks and Birkenstocks. The white cold light filtered in from high rectangular windows and flooded the empty hall holding the musty memory of gym and basketball.

There, Lux said. They walked together and Lux ran her fingers along the grooves of panel walling.

You’re sure? Lux said.

Yeah, I mean yes. Please stop asking. I’m honoured really. If this can, well, if I can help you. What are friends for right? Now hurry up I’m starkers here.

She dropped the gown and kicked off her sandals and socks. Lux fumbled with the lens cover. Flicked it open and raised the camera.

Can you lean into the wall?

Sure.

Lux raised the camera and examined the image through the lens.

Close your eyes. Can you lower your shoulders?

It’s cold, she said.

It wasn’t right.

She looked at the wooden floor. The deeply grained wooden floor craggy with age. Perfect.

Can I open my eyes now?

Yes… Can you lie on the floor?

Where?

Lux pointed.

No, that way, so your body is in line with the grain. Yes. Like that. Shift over slightly. Can you relax your hands and open them a bit? And drop your shoulders and relax your feet.

She did and her legs fell naturally apart.

I’m your puppet, she said.

Lux placed her camera down and picked up a plastic chair from a stack against the wall and carried it back. She stood on it. The body looked vulnerable. Gravity shifting her face so she seemed small somehow. Her mouth fell slightly open.

Lux collected the camera from the floor and stepped up onto the plastic seat. It crackled as she shifted her weight onto it. She looked through the lens and played with the focus. The light was good. Lux noticed her eyes were open. She was watching. Can you close your eyes for me?

She did.

Take some deep breaths.

She captured the image. Once on inhale and once on exhale.

Done?

Done.

*

Newspaper covered the floor. Poster paint bottles - the ones they use in kindergarten - were all in a row on Lux’s desk. A plethora of brushes sponges paper plates littered the floor. She had a warm bowl of soapy water and a towel. She unrolled the black and white photo.

The printing had cost a week’s wages but the paper was good quality and it came with a stand. When completed she would hang it like a banner. It was exactly five-feet long and stretched the entire length of her bedroom floor. She held the edges down with Vogue, Cosmopolitan and People magazines.

Lux weighed up the colours in her hand. She chose and squeezed the color onto a paper plate. Picking the tiny lipstick brush she elaborately painted her own lips using a hand-held mirror.

She leant over the photo as it lay on the floor and pressed her painted lips on the forehead the eyelids the cheeks. Leaving a deep violet kiss. The colour of a mother’s love.

Sponging cool paint onto her warm palm she placed a handprint on top of the photo’s hand. Holding hands in violet.

Then navy.

Two hands held by two parents.

Wiping the purple from her lips and her hands with a cloth. She washed the brush in an old jam jar of water until the purple swirled and the glass tinkled.

Lux applied navy to her lips and then to the photo on the tip of the nose as her father had always done to her. She used the green to swirl and twirl colours along the arms the tummy and spirals tickling paint over the toes. Lime was the colour of their touch their play their laughter. A childhood shared.

She waited. Allowing the photo to dry completely she watched the glow of evening filter through her window.  

The orange was next. A burnt sunset.

Lux smudged her now orange painted lips over the mouth of the photo the ears the neck the dip of the shoulders the breasts. She moved her lips to the memory of him. She took her time savouring the memories how it felt. Who she was. Fingertips of orange she drew across the abdomen and then lower. The inner thighs caressed with lightness. The side of the knees as though to lift them up. She added more paint and smoothed it with a sponge over the ‘v’ of dark hair allowing the excess of paint to take her back to the lasting impact of his touch.

Lux stepped back and allowed the whole work to dry. She scrubbed her hands until they were pink virginal new.

Then poured red.

A handprint made bigger than her own by allowing the thick paint to move under her palm and elongate the fingers - across the mouth. The red on top of the violet and the orange. Then both painted red hands on the neck. Thumbs central. A butterfly handprint to squeeze. Two hand prints over the breasts and she dug her nails into the image. It scratched the paper - but didn’t mark. She got more paint.

Lux looked at the orange the purple the blue the green the rainbow of hands that had held hers before stamping red finger tips to the wrists.

The red hands grasped tight onto the thighs. She stayed there until the paint hardened her hands stuck to the photo. As she peeled them off bits of the paint rose like sharp spikes.

Lux layered vertical lines of paint over the pubic area.

She recalled how the pain was black then red then finally white hitting the pubic bone deeper and harder the piercing red screaming from the photo she couldn’t make it work harder she couldn’t make it look right she worked until the evening trying different brushes and techniques to make the paint do what had been done.

She failed.

Failed to make something invisible visible.

*

You won, she said amongst the din of people milling around the exhibition.

It did, Lux held the paper close to her chest which offered her the scholarship to Sarah Lawrence.

No, you did. It’s yours and you can’t even tell it’s me.

I promised you, you wouldn’t.

They stood in front of the picture now called a canvas. Art. Lux looked at it.

She had considered burning it kissing the whole thing to life to flame to ash but she couldn’t. Because touch lasts.

It’s really good Lux, she said. Smoothing her fingers down the outside of Lux’s arm to get her attention away from the corner of the picture. The corner where she had written along the grey-black image a reference point.

Touches from: Mom – Purple; Dad – Blue; Sister – Green; Lover - Orange

She focused on the last item:

Someone I told no. RED.

 

Everyone loves it. Sooo powerful but you know between you and me, she leant in closer. I can’t tell the difference between the orange and the red.

  • Katie is working on an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University, writing Novel #2 whilst editing Novel #1. Represented by Juliet Mushens.

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