The regular meeting spot is too crowded. So we wind up at a beer-corner, a few blocks down. It is not his scene, seeing as he has little liking for beer or pub-grub.
“The company will make up for it!” he is told.
“It would have to,” he grumbles and orders a belgian ale which he knows he tolerates enough to sip the mandatory three sips.
“So why do you look so lost?”
“Something ended.” It is hard to say anymore than that.
“Well, that was months ago, wasn’t it?”
His world has been swept clean of colours, left so white and sterile. He frowns and tries to make sense, tries to answer. Somebody’s phone rings, and it is playing Radiohead. “Immerse your soul with love!” it cries and he feels like walking over and switching it off.
Yes, something had ended months ago. That didn’t leave his world white and sterile. Something had also ended the previous week, and he tries to remember what colours he had known before that.
“I have been exceptionally lucky sometimes, and exceptionally unlucky at other times.”
“You are a magnet for weirdness,” his companion concurs. “What happened?”
He takes a deep breath and says, “Nothing. Nothing. Let me tell you about the trip itself. The weather was so lovely and the scenery magnificent.”
“I see a bra-strap,” he tells her, teasing, if only to fluster her for the small pleasure in seeing her getting flustered.
She is not flustered. Instead, she huffs and mutters something about not being a communist. Ah, the old tale, of the communist woman, going around without a bra. He doubts it has any grounding in truth, and tells her so. After all, doesn’t he know many tales of the women on his great-grandfathers’ fields during that era, wearing red blouses and cotton bras as they worked the paddy harvests? She rolls her eyes again and says he knows nothing of the history. He lets it be, not wanting to bring attention to the fact that his accounts reach farther into the past than hers. Then her eyes burn bright and she says that he must have forgotten the present.
Just as he is about to take offense, he is greeted with laughter, joyful, and the words, “I am so glad that you are finally free to do as you like, without people calling you names for it.”
He is not offended anymore, taken in as always by the genuine warmth.
“They might be,” he tells her honestly. “It just matters less now.”
“Good. Very good.”
He could be a drag-queen and still get that response from her. Luckily for them both, and for the world they grew up in, he never had any inclination to take up that vocation.
He is told that he has matured, a great deal. Mostly, he wants to tell people what exactly transpired to make that happen. Then again, it is something of a vow, never to drag her name into these matters.
“This is the best thing, really. Your world has no place for me and my world has no place for you. You know, all the cliched old lines which are still perfectly valid and true reasons.”
He nods along and lets it happen, knowing that it is true, knowing that it is the best thing, really.
What if there are no colours left?
He goes home to brush and get the taste of Belgian ale out of his mouth, and checks his phone, only to find a terse email linking to Wikipedia’s article on Newton’s prism taking white and dispersing colours.