“Calm down, Rocco. It’s not your first time going to the beach,” Michael mumbled as he struggled to put the leash on the dog. He grabbed Rocco playfully and said; “Love you, my boy. Let’s go.”
As long as Michael could remember, his world lacked colour. He could only see in shades of grey. The only thing he remembered seeing in colour was his mother before she passed away. But that was nothing more than a vague memory of when he was little. A part of him resented this dull world he lived in, and made him turn to a life that existed out of black on white: The life of a journalist.
Michael came to a complete standstill when his thoughts were interrupted. Right in front him sat a woman on a bench, watching the ocean. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The woman turned towards Michael and said, with a gentle smirk; “I hope you’re staring because you think I’m pretty. If not, please don’t kill me.”
Michael couldn’t find the words and ended up making gurgling sounds as if his head was under water. The woman started laughing, while gently rubbing her hands as if they were cold.
“Goodbye,” the lady said as she stood up, and Michael watched in awe how the woman, in a variety of colours, walked away and disappeared.
The following Sunday, Michael was anxious to take Rocco for his walk. He has been on the lookout for the woman in all the colours for the last week, but with no success. As he was walking, his doubts started to convince him that he imagined her, or that he might have dreamt about her. Rocco’s bark woke him up from his daydreaming and that was when he saw her again, sitting on the same bench where he last saw her. Her colours were even brighter than he remembered.
The woman looked up and smiled; “Good, afternoon.”
“Hello,” he replied hesitantly.
“Want to sit?”
Michael nodded and sat down. “Thanks,” he said, while he watched how Rocco greeted the woman with excitement; “Sorry. He thinks everyone is his friend”.
“Don’t worry. He is too cute to get mad at,” she said playfully to Rocco, before turning her attention back to Michael.
“I’m Laura, by the way.”
And with a bright smile she said; “Nice to meet you, Michael.”
They chatted about everyday things like; how great the weather has been the last week, the problems in politics, what they do for a living and their mutual love for the ocean. Michael enjoyed how Laura’s colours brightened up as she spoke about her days as a dancer, and the dance studio where she started eight years ago. As it got darker, they both agreed it was time to go home.
Laura stood tiresome behind the bench and said; “Hope I’ll see you next week again.”
“I’m sure you will,” he replied.
Michael couldn’t help but turn around and watch Laura, in all her colours, disappear down the road.
Michael and Laura’s weekly meetings soon turned into a Sunday ritual. They would meet at the bench and walk down to the local café to enjoy a cup of coffee. As time went on, Michael noticed that Laura’s colours were getting brighter, and that she got more tired more easily. Eventually, they would just meet up at the bench and not go for coffee, as she always had an excuse as to why she didn’t feel like coffee that day. He assumed that she was tired, because of her dance studio that kept her busy. But when Laura didn’t show up one Sunday, Michael knew he assumed wrong.
When he arrived at her place, a nurse opened the door and he saw Laura, glowing with colour, sitting at the window in a wheelchair. He didn’t know how she was going to respond, but he was relieved to see that she was glad he came. She explained to him that on the first day they met, it was only a few days after she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She liked the idea of Michael not knowing what she had, because it gave her an opportunity to live for an hour or two, without the reality of her dying slowly.
Michael then continued their ritual, by taking her to the beach every Sunday. With time, Laura started to struggle with her speech and they would sit on the bench, watching the waves in silence. Now and then, he would turn his attention towards her and look at her crooked smile, as the breeze playfully threw around her hair. He hated seeing her colours fading. He knew it wasn’t long before she would change back to shades of grey.
© Ilka Steyn, 2016. All rights reserved.