Author : Summer Batton

We bled orange. Not some giddy childhood sherbet kind of orange, but the sickly rusty kind that comes off of metal barrels after they’ve sat out in the rain for 10 years. Orange like the rust that comes off slowly in chunks, running down into the ground and mixing with dirt and oil.

Lauric said we weren’t human anymore, but I hadn’t believed him. Even when the sky grew dark and thick like machines and the grass under my shoes grew soggy, its color fading, bleeding off into the streams and Lauric stood with his nose bent down to mine and said “You aren’t a part of this anymore, Fay,” I hadn’t believed him. How could I?

He’d been a whirlwind trip for a frustrated flunky who could never make up her mind about anything. His bed had seemed like a good place to stop and think. He seemed like a way to stay still in time and place and make no decisions—a good idea for someone who had failed at college, at jobs, and at marriages alike. Life in general, it seemed. I’d had even failed at being an alcoholic. I tried, honestly wanting to become addicted to alcohol—something, anything—to have a need that could be fulfilled time and again, every time. But the bite of liquor and dry wines left me nauseous after the first sip and I couldn’t press it to my lips again without having to puke. Even addictions had rejected me.

Lauric pointed into the sky and then down at the earth with a long, thin hand, “Did you think you belonged here?” I looked down at myself. I had taken off most of my clothing; the trite colors and material just hadn’t made sense anymore—the raspy blue hues in my jeans, the maroon and green plaid of my shirt, the bright red and yellowy stripes on my sneakers—they were all so distinctive and surreal, like a Barbie Doll world that I hadn’t realized I’d been living in. I’d striped them off even as the grass and sky had stripped their own colors off, and Lauric had placed a butterfly knife in my hand, long and horribly thin and sharp, like his fingers.

“You aren’t a part of this anymore,” he repeated, and I believed him this time. It was the only thing that made sense. I could already see the blood reds of the world washing away with the greens of the grass and sky blues. Lauric had laid open his palm in a slender strip and placed it in my hand.

The color. It already made sense. The color of rust and oil. It reeked of failure and of the world. The world that I had failed in time and time again, the one that Lauric had said I was not a part of anymore, that I didn’t belong to. It was falling off his hand, fast and away from him, out of him, onto the ground which now had no color at all. It was leaving him. And I, curling my fingers around the hilt of the knife, so much of my flesh exposed, so much to get rid of, began.

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