Amber Koski’s New Short Story – A Forgotten Colour

A FORGOTTEN COLOUR

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by

Amber Koski

*

Surrounded by thousands of spines Barbra plods along, her white hair flat against her head revealing a dappled scalp. The gold chain around her neck which holds her glasses clinks against the metal clamp of her name badge:

 

Barbra Huey

Librarian

 

As she leans forward to scan my library card her breasts press her glasses onto the countertop and make a grating noise she is oblivious of.

Have you read my husband’s book?

No, ma’am.

It’s shelved in Non-Fiction H-L.

I’ll look next time, tomorrow probably.

It’s about a golf ball who goes on a journey to find the right green.

That’s original.

The little ball just rolls along – searching, searching.

I settle at my usual table, towards the back, to the right with a view of the large brick high school across the street. They don’t use brick much anymore. Too expensive my mom told us when we were moving houses.

Isn’t it pretty? Barbra asks approaching my table with The Journey in hand. She sets the book next to my backpack.

Yes, I like the dark red brick.

My husband builds homes, he loves using bricks. He designed this library; didn’t you know?

No, I didn’t. I’m glad he did.

There are four copies of his book here so don’t hurry with it, there’s no need.

Looking down at my keyboard I see Barbra walk away out of my peripheral. My neck has grown comfortable in this bowed position, eyes staring at the keys mentally rearranging the squared and rowed alphabet – “make words!” loops in my head. My competition, my nemesis is the pixel-white page that only a laptop can give off. My hands no longer move freely or with dexterity. “Make words that mean something”: (repeat).

I pick The Journey up. On the cover, a sketch of an enormous golf ball sits left of the center, its pockmarks, an assortment of white-grey grape-sized ovals across the visible side of the ball. It’s comical, if anything it’s Children’s Fiction. I flip to the front: “For Babs, and all the books.” My parents separated when I was young so this dedication of love is rare to me. I smile as I turn to the last page.

It’s a habit; if I don’t like the last line I won’t read the hundreds of pages that come before. You leave on that last line – no going back and explaining yourself as Almighty Author, your character’s internal monologue, why you hate happy endings and never write them.

The phrase “have the last word” didn’t materialize and become a cliché with no reasoning behind it. Writers want the last word, that’s why we write books with endings, literal and metaphorical. The metaphorical folks want to maintain some illusiveness. While people might like the stuff that came before, your last word ends it all. It’s the death of your book, or the bridge to the next. A writer once told me he never ends with the word “love” or any idea of it. I like that.

But D. K. Huey’s book The Journey ends: I rolled back and she loved me with sorrow.

I packed up my things and pass Barbra in DVD 791.43.

I swear more people check out movies than books these days, she says pausing her filing motion and letting her glasses fall around her neck.

I can imagine; leaves more books for me.

Did you get a chance to get in to it? She asks, motioning to The Journey.

A little. I’d love it if someone dedicated a book to me.

There are reasons for the gifts we are given. I stuck through a great deal of ache for that little line. Let me check it out for you so you don’t set these darn alarms off.

I’m sorry to have brought it up.

It’s alright. Denis is just fine now. Officer Paul will have to unlock the door for you. It’s five past six now.

She’s a conversationalist isn’t she? Paul says as we walk down the stairs.

Yes, she really loves her husband.

Oh, she told you about Denis?

She lent me his book and told me about him designing the library.

Goodness Barbra comes up with some stories. I guess that’s all she has to do here.

You mean he didn’t do any of that?

Not a thing. Denis didn’t design anything but lies his whole life. A con who convinced poor Barbra he loved her and then dipped – and almost drained – her teachers pension.

What’d he do?

I looked him up once Barbra started ranting to me about Denis did this, did that, bleeds gold, you know. His file said all sorts of things I can’t get into but he enjoyed younger women, he’d been fined for picking them up numerous times. The kind of ladies who cost and stay running like parking meters. It seems one of his little ladies wanted to play with some homemade chemicals and Denis reacted poorly. The little miss was fine, seems she was sturdier than old Denis in that department. Denis bolted from the fourth floor of the motel straight over the banister, right onto Gunn Highway where an overnight semi put him out.

So she’s making it all up?

Now I don’t think it’s intentional. I think it’s her way of coping with Denis messing around and playing away her savings. She wants to try and remember him fondly – live the lie out.

What about The Journey?

That’s a wacky coincidence, and it works doesn’t it? But let her tell the stories, they make her happy. Don’t the little lies make us all some sort of happy.

*

 

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