Thursday, April 26, 2018

”Colour Blind” by Rana El-ali

I am sitting in the passenger seat of his car, pretending to be interested in everything I see flashing by the window. I am aware of all the flashy signs standing out in the darkness of the night trying to lure me into trying some exotic cuisine at a random restaurant. Yet I am ignoring them. I am fixated on my reflection in the glass window. I can see the lipstick dried up in the corner of my mouth. Aliyah suggest I go for red tonight.

“Be bold. You want to stand out”

She was wrong. I don’t want to stand out. I I want to blend in perfectly with someone. I want to be a flawless full shade of red, and meet someone who is a familiar shade of blue. When we come together I want to create the perfect tone of purple, the warm comforting purple of a field of lavender. The lavender of essential oils that iron out headaches.

I don’t want to have to wear colour. I want to feel it, and maybe that is too much to ask.

“So did you like the bar? It’s pretty cool right?”

His voice startled me. For a moment I forgot where I was. I was too busy thinking about where I wanted to be.

“Yeah, it was nice.”

I sense he’s waiting for me to say something else. I have nothing to say to him. I’m too distracted by what has happening around me.

I fall into another daze. I am trying to read the signs we are passing so that I don’t have to worry about small talk. I’m having a hard time making out the words on the signs. I can read the letters individually but I don’t understand what they say. 

I realize that the car has stopped moving. I am unsure where I am. I look at the dashboard and I see a time on the clock I am unfamiliar with. What is happening? I’m trying to remember my name. I know the letters but I don't know how they sound together. S-t-e-l-l-a.

Everything is spacing out. I’m trying to rearrange the letters to spell out something that may sound familiar. Allset? Tellas? I don’t know.

I feel a heavy hand on my arm. I look down and the hand looks like a painting. Nothing seems real. The hand tightens its grip. I turn my head and everything feels like it’s moving in slow motion. The hand is attached to the person in the driver’s seat. His face is really close to mine. 

There is a scent in the air and it is the only thing familiar to me; the Stella on his breath. He smells like my father. He named me after his favourite beer.

My brain is trying to piece together the night. I remember the conversation was dull. I remember coming back to the bar from the washroom and realizing that my glass wasn't on the coaster anymore; rather it was beside it. Mom always made sure I used a coaster. You could say I was conditioned to do so. Something happened to my drink when I was gone and I think I’m starting to know what it was.

I close my eyes out of fear, and it isn’t until the next morning that they re-open. I am in the lawn chair in my backyard. I don’t know how I got here. I remember nothing, but my body is trying to tell me something.

I spend the rest of the day in bed with my phone turned off. In the evening I grab the wooden box filled with Mom’s hand-written poetry. My favourite one of hers sit’s on top. I read it out loud because I haven't  heard any human voice today:

Peel me like an orange peel; trying to devour my core.
The sweetness that satisfies your hunger. 

But I am out of season and my soil is fed chemicals to preserve my existence.
I am that refreshing orange soda that you crave during an Indian summer.
You crave me but the more you have me you will begin to rot.
Yet you keep coming back until your logic yells at you to put me down. 

The pills they made me swallow every day for two years were orange.
Miracle medicine for madness. 

I am exactly what you want.
What your mom wants you to have.
What your body and mind need.

But you hate the colour orange.

I put the letter down and I look to the frame on my desk that holds my favourite picture of her. I wish she was still here. I know she would understand. All I wanted was to be red, to feel purple and love blue. All Mom wanted was for someone to love orange as much as she did. I don’t think I can trust the colour wheel anymore. Or maybe I’m just colour blind and I’m only know realizing it.

Rana El-ali is a 24- year-old female residing in Mississauga. Writing has been her go-to outlet from a young age. With a stack of journals filled front to back that she has accumulated over the years she is now starting to explore the world of writing from a professional/career standpoint. 

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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