In response to a free writing prompt. (Instructions: write for 15 minutes – more if the fancy takes you – don’t plan, don’t cross out, just write.)
I originally intended this to lead up to the revelation that the main character had caused some kind of road accident due to her inability to see that colour, but I quite like the way the tension increases without any neat ending.
19 minutes’ worth.
I haven’t been able to see that colour for 28 years now. It’s not that I ignore it, or I’m scared of it, or even that I dislike it. I just don’t see it.
I know, I know, it sounds mad, but believe me, there’s a good reason for it. Oh, you know? Of course you know. That’s why you’re here. To try to help me. But I don’t need helping. Honestly, it’s really not a problem. And besides, don’t you think they’ve tried before? After the… other incidents? You know that too? Well why are you still sitting there, then? Wearing an understanding expression that I don’t believe and a cord skirt that – frankly – is most unsuitable for someone with your hips.
Rude? Well, perhaps I am being. But wouldn’t you be a touch put out if someone came and pried into your private thoughts and said they were going to try to fix a problem you really didn’t see as a problem?
Oh, you think it is a problem? Well, that’s your prerogative, of course. But I really would rather that you didn’t call me Maria, if you don’t mind. Yes, I know it’s my name. Of course I do. I may not be able to see orange – oh yes, I can say it, I just can’t see it – but I do know my own name. I simply don’t like people to call me by it, that’s all. What should you call me? I’m sure that’s in your notes too. As will be the fact that Maria was my mother’s name as well.
No, no, I insist. You started it, after all. You started asking about my ‘problem’, as you so charmingly put it. So I’ll tell you. I don’t see orange – not I don’t choose to see orange, regardless of what your predecessors have scribbled in their uniformly illegible handwriting – I don’t see it because of what that colour means to me. That colour is my mother, Maria – yes, I do have to continue, I do and I shall – that colour is my dead mother, dead these 28 years on the 14th of March. Because she was wearing an orange dress. An orange dress – I am not shouting, you’re the one who’s raising her voice – an orange dress with slightly darker orange flowers on it. When she threw me into the water from that boat.
I don’t care if you do get someone in here to restrain me. I’ve started so I’ll finish. Isn’t that how it goes? Orange dress, orange flames behind her figure as I surfaced from that freezing dark water. And an orange lifejacket on the steward who fished me out of the water and hauled me onto the lifeboat. The one functional but severely overloaded lifeboat to escape from that death-trap ferry.
The orange lifeboat.