The sky was blue.
This felt surprising to him, as if the sky shouldn’t be blue. The sky would look good in a beautiful purple. Maybe a brown. Indigo would look nice, too. He hated green, though. Green wouldn’t work, not at all.
His ceiling was blue, too. He stared up at it, the blue swirling – it was a solid color, a nice shade, and it could have drawn him in.
There was a harsh knocking on his door, and a voice sounding. “Xavier, up! Now!”
He knew that voice. It was the voice of his father. He sat up, spotting a suit hanging on the rack that was attached to his closet door. He climbed out of bed, and tottered into the bathroom on sleep-ridden legs.
He was out of the shower quite quickly, fresh-shaven and teeth a shiny white, ready to start the day. His father had peeked in to see if he was up and getting ready, and he’d seen the man in his suit – he assumed that they were going somewhere fancy.
His tie was blue. An almost fancy-looking blue, one to match the sky and his ceiling. He didn’t like it. He thought it looked arrogant, resting on the white background of his shirt almost condescendingly, as if it was too amazing to rest against a shirt so plain.
Breakfast was an interesting affair. His father was smoking and drinking his coffee, the taste surely creating a bitter taste in his mouth – but he didn’t seem to mind. Xavier just grabbed a granola bar, and poured himself a cup of coffee. He was still feeling slightly tired, and the caffeine would do him some good.
His father had the newspaper spread out on the kitchen table in front of him, and if Xavier was anyone else, he would’ve wondered why the man didn’t just Google the news instead of going through the newspaper. His father was an old-fashioned type of man, someone who still believed that cancer was a scare tactic from the government to get everyone in America to be healthy, and that the computer and television – as well as any other entertainment-oriented technology – were death traps that the government used to monitor and control the minds of its users. Xavier didn’t bother trying to change his elderly father’s mind.
“Did you remember to put your speech cards in your pocket?” Xavier raised an eyebrow in a confused fashion, reaching his left hand into the pocket on the suit jacket that held a handkerchief folded neatly. He felt index cards, and pulled them out. Four, with a neat, boxy script spread haltingly across the cards, as if they had been forced there with too much effort.
“Obviously you have,” his father said, and Xavier put them back. He hadn’t bothered to read them – he guessed he’d be reading them soon enough, wherever they’d be going.
Swallowing the rest of his granola bar, he made his way to the couch. He was sure that they weren’t leaving now, as his father sipped at his coffee at a leisurely pace. Looking down, he spotted his own cup of coffee sitting there in his right hand. He didn’t even remember picking it up, truth be told. He shrugged and took a sip – he might as well, since it was right in his hand.
Plopping down on the couch, he grabbed the remote and took a sip from his mug. He had already turned on the television, and flipped to some odd channel playing some odd show, before he noticed something.
The remote was blue. A dark, angry, color of blue. He raised an eyebrow at it, before putting it down on the coffee table, more looking at it than the show he’d put on the TV.
His father had came in, and told him to turn “that stupid thing” off, and so now, he stared around the room, feeling like there was nothing to do.
“Why don’t you go practice your speech, just in case? We leave in an hour,” the man said, and picked up a book. Xavier shrugged and nodded, heading back into his bedroom.
The speech cards were pulled out again, the four index cards standing a small height and seemed nervous in his hands – if index cards could be nervous.
He tried to read them, the words on the cards, but they almost seemed like they were running away. Letters broke off from the words that were sitting there, skipping, jumping, and hopping away in almost amusing fashion. Xavier looked at the words after they’d all disappeared, and they were all broken, with vital letters missing and the other ones muddled together to form a discombobulated stream of alphabet.
The index cards returned to his pocket. Maybe, when they weren’t nervous, the words would become actual words again.
He’d seen the color of the ink – an almost shy blue, one that could speak volumes, but didn’t. It was an understated color, but it was beautiful all the same.
“Time to go,” his father said, knocking on the door that Xavier didn’t even remember closing. He nodded to himself, standing up and making sure his blue tie was adjusted. With one last glance at the blue ceiling, he was out the door.
The steering wheel was blue.
Xavier was sitting shot-gun, and when he looked over to ask his father where, exactly, they were going, he spotted the color of the steering wheel. It was a bright, cheerful color. It matched the color of the sky, even though he thought the sky would’ve looked better in a purple color.
When he’d taken his eyes away from the steering wheel, he had already forgotten what he was going to ask his father, and didn’t bother speaking.
The drive seemed long, a stretching and long affair that moved in slow motion. He wanted to ask his father to turn around, when he felt like they’d been driving in place, but he didn’t say anything.
His stomach was oddly knotted, as if he was nervous, but what did he have to be nervous about? There was nothing here for him to be nervous about, not in the car and not where they were going. Not that he knew where they were going, but he was sure that his father wouldn’t take him anywhere dangerous. The man might be cruel, but not to his own son.
“We’re here,” his father said. Xavier’s thoughts broke off as he looked around. It was a small church building, but the back had open space – that led into a cemetery. Xavier raised an eyebrow and went to look back to his father, but he had already gotten out of the car. Xavier stepped out as well, slamming the door. After his father locked the doors, he slammed his own as well, and led the way.
Xavier wondered if it was required of him to follow. He didn’t think it should be, since he didn’t know anyone that had died recently. Despite that, he felt an almost aching hole in his chest. His mother had left when he was eight, and sure he’d never gotten over that, but that didn’t mean he’d think about it when he was in a cemetery. He knew for a fact that his mother had a new husband, and three children – despite the fact that he never met them. They sent Christmas cards, his mother’s way of stabbing his father in the heart, letting him know that she was better off than him.
Everyone else in the family thought that Xavier, at twenty, “had a right to know” what was going on with his family, certain he thought that his mother had died, but really, he knew everything. Xavier’s father might’ve tried to hide the card once he took it out of the mailbox, but he never noticed that it was open, and had already been seen. He must have pieced together the story, reading those cards. Eight years and eight cards – all that had been necessary to piece the mystery together.
Except – Xavier almost felt like someone had helped him come to the deduction he had, but it didn’t seem like there was anyone else. He didn’t have a best friend of any sort, in fact he was quite the loner, but he doubted he’d share something so personal with any person of the street. The aching in his chest got even worse with the thought, and he loosened his blue tie. Maybe he’d tied it too tightly, and he didn’t notice the slight restriction in breathing. That was probably it – a plausible explanation, because he couldn’t come up with anything else.
The inside of the church building was packed – there were people there, giving him and his father their condolences. Who had died? Why was he the one getting the condolences?
A program was handed to him, some sort of outline for the ceremony. He tried to read it, but all the words were jumbled. They mushed together, as if the letters been shoved into a blender and then spat unceremoniously onto the page, and he couldn’t make sense of them. Where the deceased person’s name should have been, he could make out a J and an M, but that was it.
He was led into a room with chairs, a casket, flowers, and a reverend, who extended his hand to Xavier’s father. They shook. Xavier was sure that it had been the usual “I’m sorry for your loss” that had been exchanged – something he knew for sure when the man came up to him and pulled exactly the same routine. Xavier nodded hollowly, accepting, and followed his father by plopping into the plastic chair in the first row next to him.
The chair was blue. All the chairs were blue. They were so dark, a mysterious blue, and he made sure not to look at them just because of the way his hair stood on end when they were in his line of vision.
The flowers were blue, a smirking blue that made him feel like the flowers knew every one of his secrets, every bad thing he’d ever done. He shivered, and looked away.
The reverend started talking, and he realized that everyone was already sitting. He blinked. When had that happened?
He looked down at the cover of the program, and turned it around in his hands, not expecting to see a picture.
A girl? She was about twelve years old, with tanned skin, and dark hair. Clearly she was Brazilian – he recognized it, he was Brazilian, too. She had freckles splayed across the bridge of her nose and her cheeks, just like he did.
And then everything came into focus.
Jasmin Branco, his little sister, gazed out from the program, her name in Harrington font below it.
And her eyes were blue.
Age 15, Grade 10
Girls Write Now