Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Flash: The Color Yellow

Hey everyone! Time to bust another one of these out. (What? It's called "flash" for a reason, right?) Well, I had intended to write Red Scare, Pt II for this week, but it's turning out longer than I anticipated and I don't have enough time to finish / edit it. So instead you get this little piece I wrote a few days ago. It's based on a prompt from Flash Fiction 365 @ tumblr. But if nothing else, it features the same character that Red Scare, Pt II includes, soooo that's something, right?

Also, we're time-warping back to 1979.

(Over 1k words, written in about an hour.)

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Amongst anything else - flowers, dresses, plastic jewelry, Crayons in a box - the color yellow was nothing special. It was a nice enough accent color, but the era had taken it to ridiculous extremes via paint pallets and upholstery.  It also reminded one of dinner soup come back to haunt in the middle of the night.

But that day…

That day yellow was beautiful.

At six years old Miranda had no real opinion about most colors – not like her peers at the kindergarten, who rolled around in blues and pinks and fought over red glitter and purple crayons. Of course, she had her supposed favorite of the day, a deep orange so thick in its own hue that it turned sienna in the summer light. She wore it on her jumper and in the ribbons in her hair, against her mother’s better judgment (“Why do you like such boring colors? Boring colors for a boring girl. You look like a street dog in that color.”) and her teacher’s frustration since it made little Miranda blend in too well with the paint on the walls.

But yellow was beautiful.

Her classmates were all like her:  either a mix of Caucasian or not all. The local Asian population was at its thickest in that area, and a mixture of Mandarin, Laotian, Vietnamese and some Korean babbled in the air during drop-off and pickup times. There was one other child who was part Japanese like Miranda, a boy whose parents forbade him from speaking their natural language. Her mother had futilely arranged play dates between the two children in the morbid hope that they would get engaged before primary school.
Little George was currently stuffing another boy’s face in the sandbox while Miranda clung to the wall, alone. Her eyes flitted between her supposed fiancĂ© and the new girl who brought with her the color yellow.
Susie was also part Asian, but the genetic randomizer had bestowed upon her a happy head of blond from her white father’s side. The color pouring from her scalp was so vibrant that it was the definition of the color yellow.

It was beautiful.

Somebody chided Miranda for staring at the new girl. When she denied it, the child went and told Susie. Miranda turned and shoved her face in the corner before her cheeks could pinken.

“Hey, are you Miranda?” Susie’s voice sounded like sharpened chalk on metal. Miranda flinched and craned her head over her shoulder – she forgave Susie for the vocal oversight the moment she saw the lovely blond hair.

“Yeah. Why?”

Susie kicked her feet and grinned. “They said you were staring at me.”
 
“No I wasn’t!”

 “Why are you staring at me? Are you weird?”

Miranda bowed her head. “You’re pretty.”

“Thanks! You’re pretty too!”

Susie could say that so candidly – why was Miranda so shy to admit it herself? “Do you wanna play?”

“Sure!”

They took off for another corner where a pile of blocks were abandoned. Together they built themselves a nice colorful castle and decorated the ramparts with tiny plastic soldiers. Miranda babbled about defensive tactics while Susie gaped at how it all flew over her own head. While Miranda put all the soldiers into formation, Susie took a blue ribbon out of her hair and strung it around the base of the castle as a makeshift moat.

It was a decent castle by any other kindergarten’s standards, and other children stopped by to admire it…or threaten it as the kingdom dragon, as it were. One particularly young girl took a soldier out of Miranda’s hands and sucked on it before giving it back. Miranda sneered and threw it at the back of the girl’s head.

“Miranda!” chided the nearest teacher. “Don’t throw things!”

Miranda hunkered down near her and Susie’s castle. From that moment the teacher hovered near them, although her attention was constantly taken by George’s bullying of the other boys.

“All right. That’s it. Playtime’s over,” she finally announced. “Clean up!”

Susie slammed a hand against the castle and watched it fall with delight. Miranda merely stared at the colors falling around her, each block crushing a tiny soldier against the brown carpet. Something lurched inside her stomach in agony.

Susie’s hair brushing against her forehead made her stomach lurch in something else.

“Where’s my ribbon?” Susie’s voice snapped Miranda out of her sickening trance.

“Here it is.” She reached out and picked up the ribbon from the pile of blocks.

“Thanks. Can you tie it for me? My mom always does it for me.”

“I guess…”

Susie gathered her hair on the side of her head and gestured for Miranda to approach with the ribbon. With the rabble of a scrambled clean up going on around them, Miranda took the ribbon and began to tie it in an acceptable loop around Susie’s yellow locks. A tear emerged at the edge of her eye as she felt each thick strand between her fingers.

“Oh! Are you okay? Why are you crying?” Susie pulled herself away and finished her hair on her own.

“I’m not crying…”

“You’re crying! You are weird!”

“It’s just…your hair is so pretty.”

“My hair?”

“Yes. I like the color a lot.”

“It’s just hair…you’ve seen yellow hair before, right?”

“Maybe.”

“You’re so weird.”

They stared at each other, Miranda’s eyes watering while Susie’s blinked in bemusement. Miranda reached out and took her new friend’s hand.

“You’ll be my friend?”

Susie shrugged. “I guess so. But you are weird.”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t say thanks to that!” Susie yanked her hand away. “Weirdo.”

“Can I kiss you?”

“What?!”

Miranda pointed her chin down and pretended she couldn’t see anything. “My cousin says you should kiss people you think are pretty.”

“But girls don’t kiss other girls!”

“Why?”

“I…I don’t know why…they just don’t!”

“Why can’t I kiss you?”

“Because it’s weird, you weirdo!”

“Would you kiss me if I were a boy?”

“Ew! No way! That’s gross!”

“Then why not kiss me?”

Susie finally relented. Besides, she later said, she needed the practice. And since boys were so gross, why not kiss a girl instead? And thus she let Miranda lean in and peck her on the lips while the kindergarten cleaned itself around them.

For centuries artists have tried to capture the innocence of a child’s kiss; for centuries adults have had heart attacks over them.

Miranda!” The teacher swept in and pulled them apart. “Susie! What are you doing?!”

She addressed both of them, but it was Miranda she had her firm hands clasped upon. “We were kissing…”

“I could see that! That’s disgusting!”

“No it’s not!”

“Come here!” The teacher yanked Miranda away and towards the telephone in the back office.
When Miranda’s mother arrived, it was more of the same she always heard. “Unnatural child!” “Has no morals!” “What kind of family do you keep at home?” “This is the second time!”

“My daughter is quite sick,” Miranda’s mother responded via her sister-in-law’s translation. “I’ve disciplined her several times about this.” “I was hoping it was just a tainted American phase but she can’t get rid of it.” “I will punish her again.” “This is unacceptable, I agree.” “I’m so sorry.” She even bowed at the end.

And when Susie’s mother came, nothing changed. “What?!” “What kind of place is this?!” “Is this what goes on here?!” “Do not make my daughter a homosexual!” “I can’t stand a place like this!” “We’re leaving!”

She took Susie with her, and the little blond girl never returned. When Miranda went home that night, she was quite righteously punished by her disgusted and enraged mother. The shrieking was the same as always, and the spanking didn’t even hurt after a while. The worst part was when she went to the phone and called George’s mother, insisting on another play date.

But George would never do. No boy would ever do. The feelings inside Miranda – that she would have no words to describe until she was of age – were there, steadfast in her heart, and imprinted on her memory. No girl would be as pretty as Susie, the little girl with yellow hair.

Until she met the next one.

And the next one.

And finally the last one.

Because the color yellow was so beautiful.

7 comments:

  1. I liked the beginning, and I see what the message is. It kind of lost me though . . . it didn't seem realistic that a kid in kindergarten would be physically attracted to anyone yet. Also, my kids love to give kisses. They give all their friends a peck on the lips and us parents just laugh and say, you're so silly. i'm sure after a certain age that peer pressure will stop that, but for now, no one cares. I guess I'm saying this because the reactions all bothered me that everyone read into this so much at such a young age.

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    1. For the first part, I can speak from experience that I was definitely aware of my sexuality at the same age as this character, and I got in trouble for kissing other girls by teachers and even my mother wasn't impressed (but when I tried to kiss a boy, it was ~cute~). So a lot of this is based on my own experiences, and those of others, particularly of friends who grow up today in Asian families and face strict homophobia. Hell, even today I see children chided for showing "improper affection" (as one ex-friend called it) to same-sex friends.

      I wasn't actually going for any message in particular, although it's definitely there by default. This is a backstory to one of my characters who suffers a lot of issues in her middle-age because her mother is so violently homophobic.

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    2. Darn it, hit publish too soon. Thanks for reading, by the way =)

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  2. I'm so sorry, I'm still stuck in critique mode and don't remember how to keep my mouth shut.
    What I forgot to mention is how it's beautifully written, especially the part where they became friends and played together.
    That's horrible that parents would act that way, at 5 years old!

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    Replies
    1. Haha, no worries. Critique is good! And thank you for the compliment~

      Sadly I still see and hear quite a bit of it in my circles (and not just on Google+~). I think it's wonderful that it's NBD for your family and your kids, and I hope one day that will be the norm I know of!

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