Nevertheless, he does


Jessie Warren

The painting on my bedroom walls cast in the glow of my stained glass light bulb.

She wishes she could write like Hozier lyrics, and when she thinks this, she feels green.

Green not in a queasy, nauseous way, but rather like wading within the shallow pools of her mother’s Earth. Gently creeping through her hazel corneas without warning, the ceiling above her turns to treetops. Even though she knows she has to leave her childish fantasy, she is provided with momentary respite and nurtures it for all it can give her.

Within the brush—under the pines that reach for one another with their frail needles—she fades into the forest, her dreams turning her into the emerald she could never indeed become. Like magic, her words reflect Hozier’s, and she is content.

Yet, she notices that color is most often what she’s left with when all else falls away. There are marks in her calendar that signify the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, and this one began when she had blue hair. It began when her friend departed within the onyx, and she wore the same outfit for four days after. It began when she re-arranged her room and hung up the contents of her woman wall, a memento she has yet to recreate.

This is also the first section yet to include the intercalary bits—the chapters within the chapters as she’s come to call them. Foreshadowing has become a device of the past, and every few seconds, her colors change.

Today, through tinctures of sapphire and violet, she has felt the overwhelming presence of crimson. It flares at her touch. But most often, at the words of others—strangers whose biting instructions ignite the flame within her.

Even though she dreams in green and lives within a prism, she still lives.

“Now, mind you, it’ll be one to two weeks until your photos are even done.”

She knows this. For two years, she’d been doing this. It is the same process each time—the same words. Yet, she feels the condescendence of his tone stabbing its crisp blade into her palms. He hands her a scarlet and silver pen, and as she fills out the boxes she knows so well, he hovers. She feels the maroon of her writing instrument seeping into her skin, his eyes flashing back and forth between her and the colors. She wants to escape. Her chapters begin to separate, and she is isolated.

“Don’t close the envelope. We need to take out the roll of film so that we can develop it.”

Crimson. Does he believe that just because she has auburn hair that’s turned from blonde to blue to brown that she does not understand? One hundred and nine of these photographs fill her phone, and she cherishes them. They are the covers to the tomes that contain her life’s story—the myriad of colors she grows through into the beams of her future.

Even though she dreams in green and lives within a prism, she still lives. Even though she occasionally writes like Hozier and fades into the ebony of nightfall, it does not mean she lacks a voice. Even though she is a teenage girl, she understands how to develop a disposable camera.

She does not need him to explain any of this to her. Nevertheless, he does.