Colors

So this world has followed me into my dreams, with this result…

You walk into Elsewhere University with bright eyes and eager steps, excited to start this chapter in your life. You’d heard the hushed conversations in the corners when you went to your orientation, but that didn’t concern you. In fact, it kind of excited you, because you thought you might find a better outlet for your arts here than anywhere else. You could See colors and shades that were too bright, too sharp, too vibrant, too dark, for the mortal eye. Colors not even visible to bees and art students (though you were, of course, an art student).

You think your portfolio might have scared your admissions counselor, an oddly mousy woman whose eyes never stayed in one place for very long. She stamped (never signed, no one here signed documents) her papers for her,  but whispered under her breath the whole time about “Elsewhere colors” and things of that sort. You didn’t catch everything, but the gist was clear. You always knew the colors you Saw weren’t like what everyone else described, but you had never found a way to prove it. You’d never found paints in the kinds of shades you Saw and never managed to mix them yourself, no matter how many hours you spent trying. (That was why you were minoring in chemistry - you wanted to create your own pigments, to capture all of the surreal beauty you could See that no one else could.) You did what you could to make the differences clear though - and planned to keep doing so, even though it was clear that displaying Sight was taboo here. You were lucky that you couldn’t See more than colors. Your time at the university would have been much shorter, and much less pleasant.

You followed all of the rules and traditions to a T, made sure you were never without salt or a ramen packet, kept an old iron pendant around your neck or in your pocket at all times, spoke kindly to the crows. All of the rules, except for the one about creating art incorporating Elsewhere. No matter how many times you teachers warned against it, despite that one even failed you for the semester for it, you insisted on trying to paint the colors you Saw, instead of the ones that existed in the mundane world. You made it three semesters before you really caught the Gentry’s eye.

By the end of your third semester, you had finished enough classes in your chemistry minor by doubling and tripling up on the required courses (there was no point in taking arts classes if you couldn’t paint what you wanted, you felt) to know that they would never be able to teach you to make the pigments you dreamed of. To know that chances were good that there was no Earthly way to make those colors stretch beyond your mind to your canvas. Your first mistake was bemoaning this within earshot of one of the Fair Folk. Your second mistake was in not noticing the hole in the bottom of your backpack that spilled your ramen packets like breadcrumbs behind you on your walk home, not keeping some in your pocket (complacent, you had grown complacent in your year and a half). You weren’t carrying enough iron to ward off the Creature that appeared in front of you halfway between the woods and your dorm, offering to teach you how to paint the things you Saw. Your third mistake was in letting the “Yes” fall from your lips without first asking what the cost would be and how this would be done.

The world dissolved around you into a swirl of hues, more alien than any you’d ever seen before. And they were tangible; you could reach into them, feel them, understand what made them what they were. You stayed there for what felt like ages - for all you knew, literal eons had passed in the world you left. You painted with your fingers, your eyes, your heart, and this pleased the Fair One who had taken you… For a while. Soon though, it was bored of you. From the colors came shadowy monsters, terrifying beasts that chased you back to your own world. And as you ran, desperate, in fear, the colors fell around you like rain. They leeched from your Sight until you passed back from Elsewhere, back to the mortal world. You never Saw the same again.

To this day, you are unsure if They took your colors, or if the time immersed in all that color could be simply blinded you to the simpler shades of Earth. You no longer paint; but you still create. You still Know how to make the pigments, even if you cannot see them. You long for the day you will be able to see the things made with your Colors… But you also know that day will never come.

[x]