The Color of Love
Faye lived in a world where people could only see in black and gray. And she was the sole person who could see color. Everyone around her saw nothing but the black of evil in the hearts of others, and the gray of suspicion clouded their minds. But not her. She could see the blue of innocence, playful purples, compassionate browns, romantic pinks, and the fiery red of passion. Above all, she alone could see white. She saw the good in people. Or in some cases, the potential for good.
No one smiled. No one laughed. No one loved.
Her captor, Lucius, was the king of the land. He was determined to keep her hidden, no matter the cost. If word spread that there was more to the world than black and gray, Lucius would quickly lose his control over the people. They would flock to Faye, looking to her for guidance rather than submitting to him in blind fear. And they trembled in fear, for he was the darkest of them all.
But Faye saw the world differently. There was white in him. Only a minute spark, but it was there. And the longer she was held captive in his towering castle, the more she saw it. In all his cruelty, she saw the potential for good inside him. She had grown to care for Lucius. And to love him.
That night they dined together, as they did every night. And Faye did something daring and reckless. She kissed him, acting on the red passion that burned inside her.
As they pulled away, Lucius looked her over with a new wonder in his eyes. Smiling for the first time in his existence, he whispered, “Wow. Your hair… it’s not black as I always thought it was. It’s brown.”
“Run! We need to leave, now!” Kara said as she and Randy hurried down the street. Her legs burned, but she couldn’t give up, or they’d never make it home.
“Wait!” Randy said, stopping short. “I thought I heard someone yell my name.”
What was he thinking? They didn’t have a second to waste. The portal was closing, and if they didn’t get to it in—Kara looked at her watch—three minutes, they would be stuck ten years in the future forever.
Kara did a quick scan of the area. When had they lost him? Typical. Randy’s little brother was always causing trouble.
“I can’t stay,” Kara said, looking at her watch again.
“And I can’t go.”
She paused and sighed. “Know that I always loved you.”
Kara didn’t wait for his response. She continued running until she made it to the portal. There it was, the faint, iridescent swirl. To the untrained eye, it would simply look like a heat wave. Closing her eyes, she leaped, arms first, into the blurry vortex.
Looking back, she never should have talked Randy into working with her. But they were young, over-achieving scientists, looking for unexplored avenues of their craft. A time travel experiment seemed like a good idea at the time.
They left their small town in Alabama to pursue their dreams. They progressed faster than they thought, and within a year, they had successfully predicted the location of the next portal. But Brent jumped through after them.
Their intention was to just observe and return to the present that same evening. But the problem with going only ten years into the future is the threat of running into your future selves. They had no idea if there would be any ramifications, but they didn’t want to take the risk.
Leave it to Brent to purposefully seek themselves out. Randy and Kara spent the entire day chasing after him.
Every day for the last ten years, Kara regretted her decision to leave Randy behind. For years she tried to get back to him. But she soon discovered the portal was always moving. It would never take you to the same time twice.
She should have stayed. It was a mistake she would never make again.
Kara looked at her watch. It was time. She walked out of her house, into the still, dark night, and waited to hear the words she had replayed over and over in her head.
“Run! We need to leave, now!” Kara heard her voice say. A moment later, she saw Randy, just as she always remembered him, and her much younger self run down the street.
“Randy!” Kara yelled.
He stopped. It had worked. Tears spilled over as she watched herself leave. Then she ran to catch up with him.
“I’m so sorry. I never should have left you,” she said, falling into Randy’s arms.
She knew she had a lot of explaining to do, but it didn’t matter. She was home.
“What happened?” I say, turning to look at the passenger seat. “Dom?”
I try to see through the windshield, but the glass is shattered. I can only make out fragments of colors and faint lights in the distance. Stumbling out, I find Dom lying in the gravel, covered in blood.
“Lisa, are you okay?” He coughs and more blood sprays from his mouth.
“I’m fine,” I say, holding back tears. My head’s spinning and my thoughts come in fragments: Must have been an accident….thrown from the car…coughing up blood’s never good…
“And the baby?”
I look down and touch my stomach, feeling a kick. “She’s okay too.”
Dom nods. I choke back sobs as he loses consciousness. He can’t die; I won’t let him.
I never told Dom what I can do—how through a simple touch I can affect a person’s mood. It’s an ability I inherited from my dad. But if I can alter someone’s mind, who is to say I can’t alter their body? Who is to say I can’t save my unborn child’s father?
I put my hands on his wounds and close my eyes. “Please, this has to work.”
Tears flow freely now, splashing onto Dom’s blood-stained shirt. I look down and gasp. Gold light is streaming from my hands…
…And my stomach. Could my baby have the ability too?
Seconds creep like hours, until I’m drawn back to the present by my dear Love’s voice, “Honey, is there something you want to tell me?”
“I smell humans,” Elena, our queen, said with a mischievous smile.
I could smell them too—unsuspecting sailors about to fall prey to our charms. My fin itched in anticipation. We waited just below the surface of the water as the oncoming rowboat slowed to a stop above our heads.
One after another we popped out of the water and hung our arms over the edge of the boat. Our task was simple, natural, like swimming. We were to captivate a sailor with our enchanting songs, lure him into the water, and drown him. We’re called mermaids, sirens of the sea. And this was the reason for our existence.
I locked eyes with my prey. But what happened next I never saw coming. I couldn’t look away. I was the one enchanted, not the other way around. In that moment, I knew I couldn’t kill this marvelous human, with his chocolate eyes and wind-tossed hair.
“My name’s Eric,” he said softly. “You’re beautiful.”
As he leaned in to kiss me, Elena’s shrill voice yelled my name. “Ariel!”
I knew what it meant. Who was I fooling?
I grabbed him by his shirt collar and we plunged into the water. And I held him there until almost the breaking point.
But I just couldn’t do it. I loosened my grip and he floated to the surface.
“You know the consequences,” Elena said.
I nodded as I watched the boat and its single occupant row away above my head. With a flick of her fingers, my fin split apart and morphed into legs. A foreign choking sensation gripped my lungs and I haphazardly swam to the surface. As I gasped for air, I frantically searched in all directions.
But the rowboat, and the reason for my human existence, was gone.