Friday, July 23, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #28

Synesthesia
by J. Elis Morgan


My mother’s voice is the sound of blue.

It isn’t always a clear blue. Sometimes it claws like heat lightning jagging across a night sky. When she speaks, I have to open my eyes. Sapphire strikes, irradiating the darkness around me.

The doctors named my disorder synesthesia. It’s the colored hue that trails from people’s voices. Sometimes gold, sometimes green; luminous as a rainbow. No one understands. How could they? It’s mine and mine alone.

The house smells of cinnamon today, my mother’s favorite tea. I visit her more often. She’s not always strong, but now she lifts a petunia from its pot, roots dangling, and replants it. Look at that. Her hands don’t even tremble.

“Are you prepared?” She pats the soil gently.

The day grays around me until all I see are shadows. A touch of red snags my words. “Why didn’t you choose chemo? Everybody does.”

Everybody. They want to live. What is wrong with her?

She pauses. A petal drifts downward. “I have my reasons.”

“Explain why. Just help me understand.”

The air glistens with her sigh. “Tell me you’re ready,” is her only reply.

I’m left with glowing anger. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

She nods, and clips dead blossoms from the stem.

Yet when the day arrives, I sift through my mother’s things. I rage. I cry. There’s no such thing as being ready. Around me, people murmur. The rainbow arcs. Synesthesia. It is emerald and ruby and diamond.

It is the absence of blue.

29 comments:

pegjet said...

Spectacular use of color, and intense emotions. I liked the way this one progressed.

Aniket said...

Ditto to pegjet. I am amazed how varied the takes are on the prompt. The piece had such beautiful imagery, neat dialgoue and a really good ending. Liked everything about it.

Aimee Laine said...

That was absolutely beautiful. Fantastic!

Peter Dudley said...

This is really terrific. I love the mother very much, and the simple description of rage and cry at the end. I really liked this line:

Everybody. They want to live. What is wrong with her?

It was my favorite until I got to the final line. Well done. A top five for me, for sure.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

So interesting...personally, I think it'd be pretty cool to see the color of someone's voice.

Aerin said...

You've crafted a gorgeous piece that feels more like vignette than flash; and I do so love vignettes. I would remove the "the doctors call it" line and leave the rest. As a starting place for a longer piece.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Reminds me of a piece from the last contest and having trouble divorcing the two. I love the last line.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Nice interlacing of color and emotion, and a meaningful telling of mother and child. I like the poetry of this piece.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've read a majority of the stories (so far). This one is memorable. I like the use of senses and color.

September said...

Definitely my favorite thus far. Beautifully use of color and emotions...all the way to the end.

Shona Snowden said...

Beautiful piece, and such a sad last line.

Angel Zapata said...

Beauitful, indeed.

Lee said...

As someone recently recovered from cancer, this one hit home. I particularly liked how the first and last lines tied the story up in a nice little bow. A blue one, of course.

Hilary said...

Very touching tale. I'm not sure you needed the second paragraph the tale is strong enough without it.

Kimberly B. said...

That was really beautiful. Gorgeously written and poignant. I wanted to know the mother's motivations for not choosing chemo. There's so much emphasis on the senses here, I kind of wondered if there was meant to be a connection. But I like the wondering.
I loved this one!

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi J.

Very poignant! Hard subject, I loved your use of colors and the absence of blue. Another to add to my favorites.

Dottie :)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Cleverly done. Wonderful prompt use.

fairyhedgehog said...

This was really well done. I wondered how the synesthesia fitted in - and then I got to the end.

Very moving.

akika said...

This is amazing. I can almost imagine seeing the colours swirling through the air as people talk. The last line is heartbreaking, it's so clear how she feels without her mother there.

Deb Smythe said...

Well done.
My favorite line: The air glistens with her sigh.
Just beautiful.

Michael Morse said...

For some weird reason I read the comments before the story. Based on the glowing reviews, I expected to be disappointed. Far from it. It actually moved me to tears.

Explain that to the customers who think I'm actually working on this computer!

Lewis J Peters said...

Two words. 'Good' and 'very'. Not in that order.

Joni said...

I'm in love with the tie between your opening and closing lines.

A strong piece. Two thumbs up.

JaneyV said...

It is the absence of blue

That just broke my heart.

Superb.

Laurel said...

Ditto what Sarah said...I remembered a piece from the last contest as well.

This is a great combo of clean writing, imagery, and emotional effect. By the end of the write-up, blue is very representative of the mother and the absence of blue therefore very poignant.

SzélsőFa said...

aw.
very sad piece. well written.
there's so much love and emotion to it.

Vincent Kale said...

Sometimes you can achieve a strong visual connection with the absence of a color rather than describing things that ARE that color. This is a perfect example of that because you tie the color blue into something with emotional depth and physical reality.

Loved the descriptions of hearing sounds as colors: the voice like heat lightning, the gray days, the red snags and the rainbows arcs. Most poignantly, the absence of blue.

Beautiful.

Catherine Vibert said...

Wow! This one really grabs me. Excellent the way you tied the opening and closing lines together, making a circle. And what an interesting disorder to have! Lovely irony that while most are 'blue' when grieving, for her, it is the absence of blue.

Love the originality of this.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Thought I'd let you know: you were my top pick. Of course, it's all subjective once you make the top five and/or honorable mention. Congrats on an excellent story!