Painting by Numbers

I suppose I like to be wary of people. I mean like to be wary. People often call me weird, crazy, but I like to say I’m . . . creatively inclined to label people.

How do I label people? Well, if you must know, I like to rate fear – colour personalities.

Let’s say there are members of my family, okay? People I’ve known my whole life. My mum – bless her soul – I called her a Blue-Two. Fear level two, personality blue – a calm, laid-back type who wouldn’t condemn the worst monsters.

My brother: fear level Five, personality Amber – a finicky boy, spiritual to the teeth, abiding by Dad’s diehard faith.

Low numbers there. Now, let’s consider a stranger. A bailiff. Mr. Gimme-Your-Couch-And-TV: fear level Eight, personality Red – a vicious, no-nonsense prick. Pardon the language, I just saw him way too much in the past year or so, you have no idea.

Why am I here?

Last week, mid afternoon on a rare day where the clouds were sparse and the sun dyed the streets gold. I wandered the pavement in my shoes: Blue trainers with Yellow laces. There were few cars, so jogging across the roads weren’t a bother. I was watching my feet, you know? So I didn’t really see the guy until my head hit his chest. I was confused, of course. Though I couldn’t see people, it didn’t mean they couldn’t see me if they were coming towards me, so he could have gone right past me if he wanted to.

What did I do?

I stepped by him, obviously, but he stepped with me. We moved like in a waltz, I guess. We danced for a bit. I looked up at him and I began my mental art, the colour wheel spinning. He had a nice face, I guess, stubble on his cheek, wavy Brown hair. The eyes got me though. They were Blue, almost eclipsed by the paint drop of Black in the centre and . . . mad.

Prognosis: fear level Fifteen, personality level, muddy Maroon.

He grabbed my shoulders with one paw, fumbling with the other in my hoodie pocket, grasping at air. I didn’t bring change out with me, just my old MP3 in the pouch on my arm. I didn’t hear much of what he was saying, but it didn’t take a genius to guess what he was after.

What happened next, you wonder?

I don’t know. Really, I don’t. There was a lot of Red, so much my trainers were no longer Blue. There was a lump of Black near a wall and an ache at my finger tips. I stood for minutes just staring at the lump. I don’t think my mind was focussing well enough on the fact that the figure before me wasn’t there anymore, the hands no longer fumbling.

I like to think I was saved, but as I stood there noise erupted, the air filled with more explosive colour.

That’s why I’m here.

“You’re saying you were arrested?”

I lean back in my chair, staring back at the ten pairs of inquisitive eyes around me. I’d say there a fear level of Four in this room, the colours a kaleidoscope of Blue and Amber. I nod to the lady ahead of me who clutches at her clipboard and makes a note of my response.

“And you have no idea what happened?”

“No,” I reply. “The officer . . . Three/Amber, said I attacked him. I wasn’t really listening.”

“Did you . . . kill him?”

Now, I like this woman . . . Lynn. I like how Blue she is and for a first I feel I can rate her as a clear One. I don’t want to hurt her with my words. Even if they are pinpricks, they are weapons, but I still have to answer with the truth.

At least a minute passes as I sit until I open my mouth and answer, “Maybe.”

Laura Reynolds
Third Year creative writing student

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