Short story: Colourblind



Little Blue looked down at the sand between his jeans and poked at a mangled plastic bag, or maybe a dead wet jellyfish, or maybe a hallucination, with a stick. Little Blue had little blue eyes that were useless for seeing because they never saw colour, never saw much really, everybody knew that Little Blue wasn’t much good for anything, so mainly he sat at the beach and poked at shapes that might have been plastic bags or jellyfish or sea sponges or nothing at all and everyone left him alone.

Little Blue crossed his eyes downwards and looked down at his nose. There was a fly on it. Or maybe a speck of dirt. Or maybe a piercing. Little Blue wore a green shirt and red sneakers and a dirty brown belt. The colours didn’t go together right, but how was Little Blue supposed to know that? He didn’t know what all the colours were.

If Little Blue knew words like “opaque” and “filmy” and “soft-focus” that might be how he would explain how he saw the world. But he didn’t know those words, and he didn’t know that anyone even saw the world different from him.

Little Blue wasn’t sure why people, not many people, but some people, called him Little Blue. Not many people even knew he existed, and most of them didn’t care to know his name. But the couple who felt compelled to call him something called him Little Blue. That confused Little Blue, because he didn’t know what “blue” was, and he didn’t feel that certain about “little” either.

Little Blue sure did like it in the sand. He liked how it felt on his hands when he leaned back on them and they burrowed down like big boiled-pink crabs (boiled-pink like hams, and crawly like crabs, not boiled-pink like crabs, because they’re red, not that Little Blue knew anything about that). He liked the way the sand was a little bit damp around the edges of his jeans. He liked the way there was salty spray in the air, and the way the wind blew, and the way sand whipped up and stuck gritty into his hair and eyebrows.

Today was a pretty good day for Little Blue. He had his sand, and his stick, and he even had a half a little golden bun from the bakery that a soft focus, opaque and filmy shape called Missy had shared with him this morning as he stood up against a soft focus, opaque and filmy wall, catching his balance and his breath. Yep, it was a good day. He stretched out his jeaned legs, pushing his sneakers outwards, furrowing paths in the sand. He leaned back on his hands and sniffed at the wind.

There was a change in the atmosphere around him. A different smell in the air. If Little Blue knew what spices smelled like, that’s what he would have said it smelled like. Little Blue did know what cigarettes smelled like, and he could smell those too. There was a movement at Little Blue’s side, and a voice in his ear. "This is him. Hey there, Little Blue."

“Uh-huh. Can he talk?”

“Yeah, guess so. Sometimes. Not so much, just when the mood takes him. Doesn’t always make sense, you know.”

“Uh-huh.”

“So, what do you think?”

“Look, we gotta have a reason to get involved, you know? We have to prioritise. I mean, we can’t just put a guy through the system for sitting in the sand not making sense. Anything else?”

“Well, he ain’t reacting to a word we’re saying, right?”

“Right.”

"So, ain't that enough?"

“What’s wrong with his eyes?”

“Colourblind, for definite. Maybe something else too. Little Blue don’t even know why he’s called that, do you Blue?”

“I don’t know what we can do for you, Ed. What’s your interest here anyway?”

There was movement again at Little Blue’s ear.

"Well, I ain't sayin' I'm involved directly, it's the wellbeing of our fine city and the folks that come in as tourists... interests of the... constituents... ... election..."

The voices and the spice and the cigarettes faded as they moved off down the beach.

Little Blue pulled himself up to sitting so that his hands were resting on his jeans. He got his stick and started poking at the bag again. He thought about what he’d just found out.

That person who was just here, his name was Ed. Little Blue thought about that for a while. He’d never known the person’s name before, but he’d heard him before, and smelled his cigarettes. Sometimes he said hello, sometimes he dropped things in the sand for Little Blue to poke with his stick, and sometimes he gave Little Blue a cheese roll or something. Little Blue decided that next time he heard and smelled Ed, he might well try out using his name.

Little Blue wriggled his toes a little in his red shoes. He stuck a hand in his pocket and extricated the remains of a raggedy bit of bun. A little sand stuck to the glazed top of it, mingling with the sugar. Little Blue didn't mind. He took a bite and crunched down. Ed. It was a pretty good bit of bun.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. The only constrictions were the time limit and five randomly selected words from the dictionary. Today the words were: shared, mangled, eyes, colourblind and bakery.