Henry sits on the floor of his living room, a gallon of yellow paint in front of him. It’s bright, the same shade as Crayola’s Laser Lemon, and his hands shake as he traces the edge of the pail. He takes a breath, plunges both hands into the container and it overflows, spilling onto the carpet. He watches the color as it slides down to coat his forearms, dripping from his elbows. Tears begin to well and he pours what remains of the paint over his body. Around him pieces of patterned wallpaper hang limp, stripped from half-bare walls. The peeling remains of past attempts. The yellow stays for a while and Henry is content, but eventually it begins to crack and fade. Workers at Home Depot refuse to sell him anymore when he shows up to the paint counter weeping. In the shower he watches what’s left escape down the drain.
After recovering from his yellow heartbreak, Henry buys a green morph suit at a sporting goods store and walks to a field near his home. The grass is tall, about knee height, and peppered with bunches of Queen Anne’s Lace. The road next to him is loud with angry drivers and car horns, but the dirt is quiet. He lays spread-eagle and tries to be as still as possible, blending into the flora. The plants are prickly on his exposed face and every so often he has to bat flies away. He stays there for a while and tries to imagine himself as green. It’s not as comforting as yellow, but he thinks he might be okay here if he had to be. Henry takes a bite out of a nearby stem but the texture doesn’t feel right in his mouth.
He picks up some hair dye– electric like Pantone 072 C–at the supermarket before going to the beach. He mixes the ingredients in the community bathroom near the pier and applies it to his hair, combing his fingers through until every strand is covered. It’s cold against his skin. Once the dye is set, he leans in close and traces the outline of his reflection on the mirror, leaving blue streaks behind. He draws a smiley face on the glass and gives it a kiss before leaving and walking down to the shoreline. He wades into the water slowly until he’s shoulder deep. As the sun sets, people pack up their towels and umbrellas but Henry stays, focusing on the little waves as they lick his skin. He listens to the people laughing on the boardwalk above him. The dye runs down his temples.
When he is ready, Henry will walk home in his wet clothes and think about all of the colors he’s been. Of all the times he’s failed at becoming something complete. He will daydream about living a monochrome life. He will be too preoccupied with these thoughts to notice the car driving 55 in a 30. When he steps off the curb, his body will somersault through the air before coming to rest on the pavement. In his last moments of consciousness, he will be mostly upset that he feels warmth in the mess of red, blue, purple, and black.
Megan Cassiday is a creative writing student from Michigan and the editor of Dead Fern Press. Her work has been featured in Phantom Kangaroo, Versification, CLOVES, and Roi Fainéant. You can find her on Twitter: @MeganLyn_