The world was blackand white. Henry walked along the sidewalk of the busy city and thought aboutcolour. He had never seen it before, but he knew that it existed.

When he wasjust a baby his parents would tell him about all of the times they would explorethe world, trying to see all of the colours they had missed out on before theymet. His grandparents werevery keen on trying to teach what colour is, because they considered it sobeautiful, yet they could never quite make sense of it. He himself had neverreally considered colour to be special. He’s lived his life up to this pointonly seeing it for a few months, so why should it matter. He was 24, and whileall of his friends got married and had beautiful colour coordinated weddings,he sat in the back, seeing grey hues and smiling faces.

He thought of thetime he had seen colour, but now the world was the same as before. He was laying in hisbed, was thinking about the time before, when he had seen all of the colours inthe world.  He was 23, and was atad late for what was described to him as ‘the best encounter of his life.’When he finally met her, it was like any other day.

He was in the park enjoyingthe bright grey of the grasses contrasting the dark trees. She was walking herdark and light patchy dog around the park, and after her 3nd lap around thecircular track-like path, he built up the courage to ask her if he could painther dog. She was shocked, andhad instantly assumed that he was able to see colour, because there wasvirtually no such thing as a colourless artist.

He didn’t tell her that he wassingle. All he told her wasthat her dog contrasted with the trees and the grass. She had an image of herdogs colour, and knew the grass and trees were green, so her dog must be green.She agreed, and he got right to work. He told her that shecould continue to walk the dog, maybe rest on a bench, but keep her distance.He got out his pencil and paper, and began to sketch.

He was a very goodartist, and he knew where to start immediately, where others would have beenflustered. He began with thetree. The tall, dominating figure that was at such a distance that it lookedinnocent and unapossing.

The idea of distance making things less powerfulalways seemed to express itself in his art.He continued, andfocused his attention on a blade of grass in the forefront of the portrait. Heallowed the idea that the smaller thing, often seen as only one part of awhole, could turn into a tree from another perspective. He looked up, andwoman was standing there with her dog.

Instead of looking at the dog, he lookedinto her face. It was wide, but had full, high cheekbones. She had short hairthat framed her features perfectly. Her wide nose ended in a cute point, andher large eyes were enhanced by it. Thin glasses rimmed her eyes, and thebottoms of them grazed her cheeks. Her lips were thick and full, and she had aslender chin that ended in a soft curve. Her eyelashes were thin, but he foundit beautiful. She had thick eyebrows, and dark freckles around her eyes.

The girl he hadignored before now sprung into his vision, and he couldn’t tear his eyes awayfrom her. She had a short, plump body, and her skin gave off a glowing radiancehe had never seen before. He was completelyawestruck. He had never encountered a woman like this before.

He swallowedhard, finding his sudden, unexplainable attraction uncomfortable. She flickedher eyelashes, and he watched as she parted her lips. He felt sweat gather onhis body, and he wanted nothing more than to have her sit beside him. He wasn’t feelinglust. He wanted to sit and listen to her singsong voice for the rest of hislife. He could almost feel the soundwaves coming from her lips on his skin. “What have you gotdone?” This was all she said, yet he was completely infatuated. He shakilyshowed her the sketchpad, and hoped she loved it.

“That’s pretty good!”These words light a fire inside of him, and he loved the feeling. “So, how much longerdo you need me for?” And the fire was doused. “Not much longer, Ijust need you to sit on the bench across from me,” and she gave him a puzzledlook. “Do you want me holdCharlie on the bench?” “Yes, yes, hold himon your lap on the bench,” and she sat across from him. But instead of drawingthe dog in the portrait, he drew her.He drew her delicatefeatures into the landscape he had already carved, giving her the look of agentle earthen goddess. He put his heart and soul into the work, barelyglancing up to make sure he was right.

He felt in his heart that her beauty wasburned into his mind like a branding iron does to a cow.             Hesoon loses focus of what he’s doing, and doesn’t notice that she had gotten upand sat beside him. He was snapped awake from his daydream by her gasp, and herealizes she must have seen his sketch. He tensed his body, waiting for theslap that was to come.            Yetinstead, he received a warm hug, and her soft skin on his body. He all butmelted under her touch, and when he opened his eyes to see her face once more,he saw the real hue of it.

She had dark, matte skin, and the freckles he sawwere bright white dots. When he looked down at himself, he saw he was a palercolour.             Shelooked up too, and he saw his own amazement reflected back through her eyes.They stared at each other for minutes before either one spoke, until finallyHenry said,            “Uh,hey, my name’s Henry, how are you today,” and he felt his blood rush throughhis veins at her giggle.

            “I’mMellody, and I’m feeling very good,” and another giggle escapes her.             Theyboth have been preparing for this moment their entire lives, but now thatthey’re here, they don’t want to do what they were told to do. Both of theirparents and grandparents had said don’t get caught up on the little things, andappreciate the bigger picture, because there will come a time when you don’tget to see colour again, and you’re heart will become as stone cold as thelandscape.             Butthey didn’t want to look at anything but each other. Her eyes were dark andforeboding, and he found himself lost in them. They were still locked in theembrace, except now they were turned towards each other, eyes boring into theother.

            Hecould feel her excitement pulsing from her, and he felt his own mixing with it.They were supposed to get up and read one of the many signs littered aroundpublic spaces so they can understand what the colours they’re seeing are, butinstead they stare.             Mostpeople react like this, but not for as long. They’ve just met each other, andalready they’re deeply attached. They’re sharing an intimate moment that onlythey can live in.

            Eventuallythey separate because Charlie has begun yipping. She walked over to the sign onthe water fountain, and brought it over to him. Together, they saw the colours,even though only minutes before it had been grey. There was a wheel, with 10 orso colours in it. They were named, and they learned them all.

They could seeeveryone of the colours around the park, and could easily identify them.             Theycame across a skin colour chart as well, and learned that Henry was lightbrown, and Mellody was dark brown. They both had brown hair and eyes, and thedots around Mellody’s eyes were the colour pink.

            Theylooked down, and saw Charlie was a nice shade of peach with some brown spots,and had a beautiful pink nose. Without second thought, they left the park,craving to see how the world really was.             Theywalked down to the end of the road after seeing red brick buildings. Somehouses were yellow, some blue, some white. They had never known this before.After seeing at least 3 of each colour, they went to Mellody’s house to giveCharlie a rest.             Shelearned that her house was a delicate pink shade, and she loved it.

Inside,there was a mush of colour, but it all seemed to lean in the medium-light spectrum.When she had bought the furniture she had enjoyed the shade of grey that itcame in, but now her life was so much different.             Theyhad moved past their initial awkward phase and are now working into acomfortable friendship. He walked around her house, awestruck at all of thecolours he had been missing out on.

            Theysat on the couch after Charlie was fed and his bed was laid out. They we backto an almost awkward state, but they gained confidence as they chatted aboutthemselves. She was 23, worked at a law firm, had only Charlie as a companion,and was as cynical as him when it came to the idea of a soulmate.             Standardprotocol when it came to situations like this was both parties would single outtheir most valued possessions, then they would make a group decision on thelarge furniture, and then they would buy a house together.             Sincethis wasn’t an enforced rule, they decided that they would just stay atMellody’s house. Henry didn’t have much furniture, and the stuff he did have hedidn’t care for. He worked for a marketing agency, and he loved his job.

He gotpaid the same, if not more, than an average person, but he would never show it.Although his clothes always looked nice, he lived with the bare minimum. He hada chair, a TV, a bed, a makeshift night stand, he used the kitchen island as atable and he only had a few pots and pans. When he sold the house, he decidedhe would leave everything but his valuables behind for the next person to use.             Theybegan to make dinner, and as they went through the process, they feltthemselves syncing to each other’s movements. Neither looked up, and theyworked in silence. This was when theyboth knew that the other was their soulmate.After this day theybecame a well oiled machine.

They moved in unison, and an outside spectatorwould even say they seem to be telepathically communicating because of how wellthey work together. Life for them, was bliss. They would walk thesame way to work every morning, both headed for the business sector of the city.They would always stop at the same coffee shop, order the same coffee, andleave to sit on a bench. They left for work 15minutes early so they could do this, because remanissong on the time they firstmet made their hearts swell with nostalgia. This day however, was different.Before Henry sat down beside Mellody, he tripped and fell, only to get up onone knee, and propose marriage. She cried and cried,happiness shooting through her like a drug.

She knew she never wanted to feelanything other than what she felt at that moment, and she said yes.He got up onto thebench and slid the ring onto her finger. Once she got a good look at it, hereyes shined with awe. The crystal would change colour depending on the angleshe would look at it. Colour had become a normal thing for them, but this wascompletely new.             Theylooked at each other, and knew they were with the person they wanted to be withforever. They knew each other so well, and before even needing to ask, theyboth stood, hugged, and continued on their way to work, Mellody glancing downat her new ring every few moments. A smile crept across his face as he watchedher, in all of her beauty.

            Theyseparated at their respective offices, and a growing warmth was spreadingthough Henry faster and faster. He stepped onto the elevator, smiling, and whensomeone entered beside him, he gave them a warm smile.             Oncehe reached his cubicle, he looked around at the space he has worked for thegreater part of his career, and for the first time he put something personal onhis desk.

A framed photo of Mellody. She had on darkpurple eye makeup that complimented her eyes. Her lips were stained a deep red,and her wide smile burst through them. She had dazzling white teeth, and aperfect bow in her lip. As he stared she became more and more beautiful, justlike she had on the day they first met, only weeks before.

But as he stared, thecolour faded from her eyes, and her skin became an ashy grey. The picture framewent from bright blue to a neutral pale, and the surrounding desk faded aswell. Her smile was still as dazzling, as white, and her lips were stillstained red.

He was perplexed, andlooked around his desk. He knew what was coloured and what was just a neutralshade, and everything turned grey. Feeling more and moreapprehensive, he stood and walked over to the colour poster by the door.

As hestood, the colours began to fade, and he was left staring at a blank paper. Allthat remained was a small sliver, and the word ‘RED’. He kept his upset tohimself, and walked to the bathroom as nonchalauntly as possible.Inside, the colourswere fading as well, and his breath started coming out in a pant. The joy thathad laced his veins turned to ice, and watched his skin change back to how itwas before he met Mellody. Mellody! He wondered if she was having the same problem,and he walked as fast as he could back to his cubicle, all colour havingdrained from the office. He dialed her number,but it went to voicemail. He dialed again and again, his fingers shaking as hestarted to lose focus in his panic.

He heard his name being called, but hecouldn’t hear it. The desk around his phone went blurry, and he started to feelhis limbs go numb. Without thinking, hepulled himself from his desk and brushed past all of the people who had crowdedaround him. They were saying things, but he couldn’t understand, and he pushedaway from them. He worked his way tothe elevator, but after he pressed the button he couldn’t wait any longer.

Heran to the stairs and had an organized fall down them, barely hitting any ofthe stairs. At the bottom heslammed his body against the door and raced down the street. He felt a sharppain in his side and he didn’t know how to explain it. He kneeled over in thestreet, his pain flowing through him at a constant rate. His heartbeat waspulsing in his throat, and he had to swallow it to continue on. The street wasraising and lowering to meet his feet, and the rhythm was the only thingkeeping him from collapsing. He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew hehad to continue on. He found himselfgoing to the park, and when he saw the large group of people, he felt nauseacreep up in his throat, replacing his heartbeat.

His heartbeat has stopped. The things hiscoworkers had said to him finally squeezed into his mind. They were talkingabout an accident, with Mellody. He stopped in his tracks. After all of the rushhe had gone through, he realized all the colour he had previously associatedwith the area was completely gone, and he was stuck in the completely greylandscape he had before Mellody.

There was a crowd,and he saw a pepering of red shirts. All he could see was red. He pushed hisway into the center and his eyes went blurry again. All he could see was a redhue, and the rest was grey. When his eyes came into focus, he saw that on theground there was a small, plump body with dark skin. As he stared down at it,the skin tone faded into a dark grey, and he felt a tear well up into his eyes.

It fell to the groundin a small, grey mass, and dropped into the pool of red blood surrounding thebody. There was a glittering knife in her side, and he knelt down to see it. Ithad a carved handle, and it was quite beautiful. In other circumstances, he mayhave even enjoyed it.

He lifted her hand and looked for the last thing he gaveher. The ring. It wasn’tthere. It was missing. He felt pain in his heart this time, knowing that if hehadn’t given her the ring, she may still be alive. Regret made its form in hiseyes as more and more tears mixed grey with the red pool. He looked up, tearsstreaming, looking for anyone to tell him this isn’t Mellody.

Nobody said aword. They sky had turnedgrey, the trees close to black. He knew there was colour there before, but nowhe couldn’t access it. But as he turned his head, he caught flashes of red,haunting him, a striking reminder of the blood of his soulmate.  He returned to theirhouse, feeling the memories associated with the rooms. Her memory was burnedinto this place, and he could feel her around him.

But as he continued into thehouse, some of their red appliances brought back the red, red blood. Hecouldn’t help but shield his eyes from the pigment. He slipped back intolife before Mellody, sitting in the park, finishing his sketch of her.

Hispencil was red, and before, he had no idea it was. After he finished the firstsketch, from the day they met, he continued to draw a series. Posted on hiswall at home was millions of sketches resembling the original. But one day, on hisway to work, he saw a red circle on the ground that wasn’t there before, and hewas rushed back to the time when he lost his sight of colour. That day was theday that he abandoned colour. He ran home, lookingat the pile of red objects he had on a table, and started to cry. He let all ofthe pain he felt out all at once, and after he felt a divine hatred for thecolour.

He tore the makeshiftshrine apart, hauled it to the backyard and set a match to it. The fire burneda bright red, and when it finally died out all that was left was a pile ofburning red ember. He brought a grey pail of water out and threw the colourlessliquid onto the ash, and watched as the colour ran out onto the ground like theblood had come from Mellody’s side. He went to his roomand tore the sketches off the wall, but instead of burning them, he tucked themneatly into a pile, slipped them into a file folder, and put it in his safe.

Opening his closet,he tore all of the red clothes out, easily identifiable within the dark clothesthat he now only wore.After cleansinghimself of all colour, he lay down on his bed, facing the photo of Mellody hehad been looking at the day she died, and inserted the carved knife directly inthe place it had been in her side. He felt the same pain as he had on the dayhe ran from work, and as he watched the blood poured from his body, bright red.He felt his heartbeat slide out in his blood. For the first timesince that day, his mind focused, and he could see the blood as clear as itreally was. The white sheets werenow vibrant red, and he slipped into unconsciousness.

 

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