|An Aversion To Blue|
Photo Credit: Ben Grantham
She had an aversion to blue. It started the very second she was born. She was comfortable in the deep red of the womb, but then the womb was ripped open by the surgeon's knife and she was plucked out of her safe haven, into the icy white blue of the operating theatre. She was held aloft by the surgeon. She looked straight into his copper sulphate blue eyes and screamed.
An aversion is not to be confused with an allergy, of course. This was no condition that could be treated by drugs. She had what was truly an aversion to blue. She hated it, despised it. couldn't tolerate being near it. All blues were bad but some more than others. She could just about tolerate the milky blue of the average English sky, but a clear summer's day was one on which she would stay at home. Pale blue, baby blue, and powder blue all left a nasty taste in the mouth, but no more than that. But anything approaching the copper sulphate blue, the deep cobalt blue of the surgeon's eyes, could cause a rage coupled with feelings of panic, fear, and a deep revulsion.
Life was a minefield for the girl; her path seemed peppered with blue bombs. A trip to the seaside was a lottery. She'd only ever agree if the day was overcast and the forecast poor. Then she'd be nervous for the rest of the day, hoping that the cloud barrier would be maintained. Whenever her grandmother and grandfather took her out there would need to be meticulous planning.
"We're not going anywhere blue are we grandma?"
"No dear. Just for a cup of tea and a slice of cake."
That particular trip ended in disaster and a lesson well learnt. Establishments that sell cake accompanied by small dessert forks tend to also indulge in the provision of capacious amounts of blue glazed pottery. It all arrived at the table on one big tray and the waitress went to set it down on the table, right next to the girl. It was an instinctive reaction, as she felt genuinely under attack. She flung out her fists, screwing her eyes up and smashed the tray from the waitress's hands before it had even reached the table. For weeks afterwards, shards of pretty blue pottery were to be found in obscure corners of the tea room. The girl cut her hands in the act of smashing the tray to one side. The warm red was a comfort and a refuge from the blue. Tea rooms were added to the list of places now out of bounds. I can't even bear to tell you about the day they had naively tried to take her to the nice new swimming baths.
She had a particular phrase she used when she had one of her attacks:
"I had a bluey while I was at the shop."
She'd be sick a little in her mouth; she'd have to swallow it down, and feel the goosebumps rise on her terrified skin. Her joints would stick with congealed fat, her heart pumping the red stuff faster to counteract the blue.
As she got older she knew what to avoid and did so. Her state-of-the-art Ray-Ban sunglasses helped. It also gave a convenient excuse to head back indoors, as people assumed she suffered from crippling migraines. Her aversion was managed, and generally hidden. Her career actually blossomed. In the large, open-plan office she did still sometimes pinball between the desks from pretty blue dress to pretty blue dress, always ending in a toilet cubicle violently retching and trying to compose herself. As a consequence of this, others added bulimia to the list of ailments they presumed she suffered from.
Her fashion sense became pronounced, but limited in a somewhat predictable way. Reds, greens, yellows, and even purple, but never the colour to which she was averse. All was going swimmingly till the day her new boss arrived. She was to be his secretary, and he'd meant well, but frankly the arrangement was never going to survive their first meeting. He turned up at her desk that Monday.
"Hello there, I understand we're going to be working together."
He'd said this from behind her. She turned in her chair to find that she was being offered flowers, in a blue vase. By a man in a very sharp suit. Unfortunately, this was also blue. Taken by surprise, she immediately panicked and knocked the vase from his hand. She was hyperventilating.
"What the… hey, look if you're allergic to them or something I'm really sorry." He went to put his hand on her arm to steady her whilst she struggled for breath.
"Get. Off. Me." She threw the stapler at him and caught him smartly on the chin. Then she went at him with the scissors. They lodged somewhere in his shoulder, and she knew she had to run. He slipped to his knees trying to figure out what he had done. Her colleagues hadn't really taken in what had happened and were too stunned to stop her.
She burst onto the street and headed for her car. Putting her Ray-Bans on helped slightly; her pulse slowed, and as she headed for the outskirts of town, her breathing began to ease.
That was one serious bluey. I could have killed him. I'll be in enough trouble anyway.
Being scared of blue was unlikely to be of much assistance in court. She kept driving. The outskirts of town were mostly industrial. Mostly closed down as well. Only the huge plant that made the paint pigment was still going; the others were all closed. The pigment they made was white, which I'm sure will come as a great relief to all of you.
Then came the sirens. She looked in her rearview mirror and saw flashing lights.
Fucking marvellous, the boys in blue. She couldn't help but laugh at the irony.
She was coming up to the old shipyard. She flung the steering wheel to one side and fired the car through the wire fence. The car bumped over rough ground and she was flung about a bit but kept going. The police cars were just behind her now. Then without a sniff of a warning the car was in the air, plummeting down. It smashed into the bottom of the dry dock. The car creased and tumbled, before coming to a halt on its side. She felt pain in an arm that was clearly broken. She cried tears of rage as she realised that she was trapped, and worst of all that she had no feeling in her legs. Chunks of light clicked off, and the sun switched off last.
When she came to, there was a voice speaking to her.
"We're going to try and get you out of here but you have to be patient, it'll take us a while."
She realised that she couldn't see properly.
"Open your mouth and take a sip."
He stroked her arm whilst she drank, and did his best to drape a blanket over her shoulders.
"I could have killed him. I'm so sorry." The tears came again.
"Hey, hey. Don't worry about that now, we have to try and get you out of here. The other guys are going to try and open up the roof so we can get you out."
"I can't feel my legs. I can feel with my fingers they're wet, I think I'm bleeding." She sobbed quietly as it sank in that she may not get out alive.
He leaned in and tried to clean up her head. She had bled from a nasty cut and it had run into her eyes and mouth. He touched her so gently. No one had ever been so delicate with her. She wanted to thank him but there was no strength left in her voice.
As he dabbed and smoothed round her eyes she looked up at him. The most gentle, beautiful face, and the most amazing copper sulphate blue eyes. She took a sharp breath. But no fear came. He smiled at her and took her hand.
"Everything will be ok. Just stay with me."
She saw the kindness in his cobalt eyes, set in the prettiest creases you could ever see.
I wish I could, she thought. The lights began to blink off piece by piece. The car didn't exist any more, neither did blue pottery, or stupid blue glass vases. They all disappeared, until the only things left in the whole world were his eyes. She then heard nothing, felt nothing, but a deep, deep blue.
Philip Dodd writes stories; some are fact, some are fiction. They can be funny, or they might be sad, and are often about memory and how we are shaped. He lives in the UK at Otford, Kent, a small village just outside London. You can find him at Domesticated Bohemian and on Twitter as @PhilipDodd.