Gael sat scribbling in his journal, one fine day in the park. He glanced up at the white sunrays falling on his book, emanating from the black giant star that he had studied was actually yellow. Or was it orange?
The grey pen he was holding, made random patterns on the paper when he heard a soft voice behind him,
Gael turned around to look at the source of the beautiful voice. It was a girl of roughly his age, probably 20, and she had exquisite white skin, and her hair– that appeared black to Gael—was swept back in a bun at the nape of her neck, barring a few silken strands that hovered around her ears.
“Hola,” Gael replied, smiling dashingly. “¿Cómo puedo ayudarte?”
“Actually, I don’t speak a lot of Spanish,” she said, sheepishly. “Do you speak English?”
Gael nodded, getting up from the bench. “How can I help you?”
“Thank god! My name is Amelia, and it’s my first trip to Spain, and I seem to have been separated from my best friend and tour-guide,” she chuckled nervously, and then continued, “and I cannot reach her phone. But can you help me get back to my hotel so that I can call her?”
“Sure,” Gael smiled again. “Which is your hotel?”
She produced a white card from her pocket.
Gael stroked his chin. “It is just a few blocks away. I can accompany you if you like.”
Amelia shook her head embarrassingly. “No, I don’t want to interrupt your writing, I’d feel horrible—“
“Not so much writing as trying to write,” Gael chuckled. “Come along, it’s no problem.”
She blushed, and a rush of grey climbed up her cheeks.
Gael thought it was beautiful.
Amelia picked up her bag and pushed a stray hair behind her ear and took a tentative step towards the exit of the park.
Silence reigned as they walked towards the destination.
“So tell me about your trip,” Gael asked, breaking it.
“I reached here just yesterday and today I am lost,” she replied, shaking her head.
Gael laughed. “You should have learnt some Spanish. Everyone here doesn’t speak English.”
“You do,” she pointed out.
“That is because I studied in the UK for three years.”
“Why is that so surprising?” Gael asked, lifting a brow.
“I live in the UK!” Amelia said a little too excitedly.
“That is interesting.” Gael grinned and looked away.
They slipped into silence again.
Gael berated himself for not thinking about something better to say. That’s interesting? Who says that to a girl this pretty?
Amelia watched him out of the corner of her eye. She couldn’t help noticing his defined jaw, the twinkle in his black eyes, and how her heart fluttered every time he chuckled.
A sudden gust of wind swept past them, brushing a few strands of Amelia’s black hair back onto her face and Gael resisted the urge to touch her cheek.
A few minutes of internal struggling led them finally to their departure point.
“This is it, then,” Gael managed a smile, pointing to a three storeyed black building. “Your hotel.”
“It is,” Amelia nodded, feeling an alarming tinge of sadness. “Thank you.”
Gael nodded, and waited for her to say something.
Amelia felt his eyes gaze at her intensely. She looked anywhere but at him. What should I say?
Gael turned to go, and almost instinctively, she placed her hand on his shoulder, feeling him freeze under her touch.
“Hey,” Amelia said. “I never caught your name.”
Gael faced her and stopped mid-way through his smile.
“It’s Gael—“his jaw dropped open.
Amelia stared at him too, tears forming in her eyes.
His eyes weren’t black. They were blue. An electric blue.
The tree beside her changed colour from black to what she assumed was green.
She could see. She could see the colours. The sun is actually orange, she whispered to herself.
Her hand was still on his shoulder.
For what felt like an eternity, neither of them spoke.
The world was not important. Only they were.
“You have red hair.” Gael’s voice was almost a whisper.
Five miles away from where Gael and Amelia stood transfixed, in love, and teary-eyed, Sebastian—his brother– was gazing at a birch tree, looking at the monochromatic picture he had of her.
Just thinking about her name filled him with trepidation. He had finally plucked up enough courage to ask her to come, meet him.
He’d laid eyes on her for the first last month, and had immediately fallen in love with her.
Life was black and white for half of the earth’s population. Colours were something only the privileged could see.
His thoughts wandered to the millions of people living on earth, and how so many of them chose love over colours. They didn’t care if they couldn’t find their soul mates—it was a big world after all—and had made peace with the fact that the person they loved, was the person they wanted to be with.
His parents were one of those people who didn’t care.
Unfortunately for him, he did.
Sebastian wasn’t a coward. But he was afraid of fate. His fears kept him from accidentally bumping into her, and see for himself if she was the One.
In my heart, I know she is.
Gael had advised him to just go for it.
He glanced anxiously at the black and white dial of the watch he was wearing. She should be here any minute.
His palms felt sweaty, and his head felt dizzy. He couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go. Maybe, he would just have to wait and see.
In the last one month that he had known her, their conversation had been limited to waving hands, and they had often texted.
To the best of his knowledge, she still had not stumbled upon her soul mate.
The thought was encouraging.
He heard a rustling behind him, and turned in time to see Mariana walking through the clearing, with a smile on her face.
The white sundress she was wearing ruffled along with the wind. Maybe I will find out the actual colour of the sundress today.
“Hey,” Mariana said shyly.
“Hi,” Sebastian breathed. “So we finally decided to meet, huh?” He asked with a chuckle as he wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans.
“Yes, we did,” she laughed. The sound was like the twinkling of bells.
“These are for you,” Sebastian presented her with a bouquet of lilies. They had been taught that the lilies were originally white. No deception there. Sebastian hoped that Mariana would see the symbolism.
She buried her nose in them for a brief second, and gave him a dazzling smile.
Sebastian felt his cheeks grow warmer.
“Why don’t we sit down?”
They walked around and sat on the carefully placed mat that Sebastian had laid for them in the clearing.
For a few seconds, he let the fact that he was sitting here with the woman of his dreams sink in.
Then he asked the question he had dreaded this last one month.
“Can I see the tattoo on your hand?”
She smiled, looking at him with a strange expression. “Of course.”
She handed him her hand, and with the briefest of touches, he held it gingerly, and let the feeling sink in.
He closed his eyes before he could see something else.
Her hand feels so perfect in mine.
He took a deep breath, and exhaled shakily. She had become very still.
His eyes fluttered open.
His heart elated.
The world had colours.
“Mariana,” his voice was a whisper. “I knew it. See? Everything’s so beautiful.”
He felt euphoric. His heart leaped inside his chest with an intensity that it could jump out at any moment.
“See what? Everything is black and white.”
Years later from that fateful day, Sebastian could still hear his heart shattering into a million pieces.
Gael made things better. Amelia, his wife, was a lovely woman. Their kids were lovelier.
It was everything Sebastian had wanted, and yet never gotten.
The one thing he was grateful for though was that now he could see the colours. He had been, for fifteen years now.
One would expect him to get over it—but how do you get over something you never had?
He reflected on this while he sat on the porch outside Gael’s house, sipping his tea. He had been living with them since forever.
He turned as he heard Gael’s footsteps behind him. A hand touched his shoulder.
“What’re you thinking about?”
Gael sighed. “Seb, you shouldn’t—“
“Honey,” Amelia chimed as she joined them, and gave Gael a look. Sebastian knew the look well. It translated to you-have-no-right-to-say-anything-about-his-feelings-for-Marianna look.
Gael sighed again, and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, burying his face in the crook of her neck. Both smiled blissfully.
Sebastian looked away.
A loud shrill of the phone ringing inside the house drew Amelia back in, Gael trailing behind her.
“¿Hola?” Amelia spoke. “Si, esto es Amelia.”
Gael smiled as he watched her speak. She’d taken his advice and learnt Spanish.
Amelia’s expression however, changed from pleasant, to horror.
Gael raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong?” he asked, as he watched her shaking hands, put the phone down.
On the porch, there was a crash of a certain teacup shattering.
Amelia and Gael rushed outside.
Sebastian had gone very still.
“Seb,” Amelia barely whispered. “It’s Marianna, she—“
“I know,” Sebastian said. “The world’s black and white again.”
Story By: Mahima Khetiya