Short Story | Fiction

When The Last Color Fades

“What color are you today?” our group leader, Greg, asked.

“Red, ‘coz I’m annoyed at someone,” Jessica started.

“I feel fresh and excited— so, I’m green!” Danica offered.

“I’m going for… violet. Or indigo. Because I’m bruised and hurting. Haha!” Jeremy shyly said. Danica patted him playfully on the shoulder.

I looked around at the room, unsure what to say. Afraid of what to reveal.

“Blue.”

“Blue?” Greg asked.

“Yeah.”

Silence. They prodded me with their coaxing looks. I sighed.

“Blue. Because… I like blue.”

Danica was about to protest, but Greg’s glance shut her up. Jessica looked irritated, as if cheated. And Jeremy— well, I just wanted to tell him No, we’re not the same. I’m not going emo or something. Go away.

The session ended, and I hurriedly went out of the room. The sky was clear. It was a beautiful day, with only wisps of cirrus clouds chasing each other above. I closed my eyes, feeling the warm sunlight permeating through my skin, and breathed the slightly-polluted city air.

And I thought to myself, I’m tired of blue.

* * *

“Looks like someone’s pink today,” Greg grinned at Jessica, who was blushing as she showed off to everyone her engagement ring. I smiled as well, welcoming this unusual side of her usually-temperamental self.

Danica was quieter than usual. I sat beside her, nudged her teasingly, to which she only responded with a weak smile. She didn’t say anything, and I was trying my best not to say anything. She just looked at Jessica, at her ring, at everyone offering her congratulations. I just looked at Danica until I got tired of keeping my mouth shut.

“Don’t worry, you’ll find your own someday.” I shrugged at her. She stared at me, aghast, embarrassed. “What…? NO! I’m not…” She angrily punched me on my arm, a little too seriously. It hurted, but I laughed. “It’s okay— we’re all adults. It’s normal to be a cute green-eyed monster at times like this.” She reacted with a couple more punches.

A few minutes later, she stormed out, teary-eyed.

Jeremy, who witnessed everything, cautiously approached me. “That was cold, bro.” I looked at him as innocently as I could, as innocent as the vodka-spiked drink I was trying not to gulp down in one shot. But Jeremy did, draining his half-empty/half-full cup before giving me an exasperated look, then walked towards Danica’s direction. What, you trying to be some royal prince, I snickered at Jeremy inside my mind.

Okay, maybe I was a jerk. I took another sip. I grimaced at the taste and the thought, and while no one was looking, spilled back the bluish drink back on the punch bowl. So maybe I was insensitive. But did I really say something wrong?

I peered at the distance. Danica was really crying now, Jeremy eager to grab at any opportunity to console her with a hug. And to think I was the jerk. I could use a hard drink, but I just wanted plain, old, reliable water.

I did feel a little sad— for Danica, who always tried to be happy and make everyone else happy. But I also felt a little hopeful for Jessica, who finally can shut up about her romantic frustrations. God, I just hope I won’t be a part of her new group that will be a bouncing board for her expected marital frustrations. As for Jeremy… whatever.

I found the water dispenser, and promptly filled my cup. It was clear, unlike the blue-green waters of seas and oceans. And I wondered if they really felt that way; maybe that’s how blue truly is— deep, mysterious, beautiful. Maybe that’s why the sky is blue as well, a wide atmosphere with its own intangible ocean of water vapor, trillions of nature’s own teardrops hanging, waiting for the right time to fall.

I’m tired of being blue. This overwhelming melancholy that’s just the slightly-right mixture of indescribable joy and undefinable sorrow.

I think that’s the alcohol talking. I sipped my water, slowly at first. At the end of the day, nothing tastes like real water as cool water. I appointed myself guardian of the water dispenser for the rest of the night.

* * *

Greg was crying. He looked ugly while crying.

“I wish we could have done more to help…” He told Jeremy’s parents, who looked too exhausted and drained of tears. Jeremy, on the other hand, never looked as peaceful and as rested than today. He was white inside his casket, not just because of his funeral clothes; there was something serene and sacred in this last sight of him, a sense of finality that was devoid of and free from any shade or hue or stain of fragile humanity.

Jessica, red-eyed, sat beside her husband. For once, she was silent. She didn’t look at any of us with her usual angry, accusing self. She just clenched her jaw as she stared at the coffin, her husband’s hand growing pale from her grip.

It was Danica that I was worried about. She just… there was no color to describe her. Jeremy looked more alive on his eternal mattress than she was on her seat. She was too transparent, her eyes already on their way to the afterlife. She didn’t even react when I sat beside her, not even when I tried to hold her hand. Her fingers just fell limp on my palm, unfeeling, unwarm. I wanted to cry, not because we’ve lost a friend, but because I didn’t like this: the imaginary memory of her summer laughter, the allergy-inducing spring of her exuberance— now consumed by this autumn encroaching on what she’s supposed to be, wilting all the flowers and leaves that made her what she meant to us, to me. To Jeremy.

So I willed myself to patch-up my own brokenness, even for just now. I forced myself to smile, to believe every word I was about to say. And I gritted my teeth, braced myself for this sheer effort of converting my own darkness into something that glows.

It’s tiring to be blue. But I had to be—the kind of blue that dances with the oranges of dusk, the kind of blue that has endured the blackness of night, the kind of blue that lovingly watches over the verdant green of earth, the kind of blue that mixes with scarlets to produce a majestic and dignified purple. For when all other colors fade into that boundless white or the unforgiving black, there is a stubborn kind of blue that lingers even when everything else seems gone.

“He really loved you.” I said, in my consistently insensitive way.

She nodded, purple mascara streaks complementing the gray of her eyebags. “I know. That’s why it hurts.” Then, she smiled as well. Weakly, but a smile nonetheless.

We sat in silence, in a private world of winter she created, a place she allowed me to be in. Maybe snow isn’t so bad after all, as long as the skies can still be blue.

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