Monday, 9 January 2017

Fool's Paradise

His hands trembled in mine. Tousled and sweaty hair, collapsed over his delicate features. His dark eyes filled with a familiar emptiness, and a sort of madness that failed to conjure empathy, but instead, memory. Jack was much weaker than I, and it was quite obvious, that this boy was bearing a weight too heavy for such a fragile creature, as broken and innocent as he was.
Most could take the inevitable blankness awaiting them. We were far from okay but would continue to remain alive. Others, like Jack, weren't able to withstand the pain and were murdered by their shaky minds. However, was the only shaky mind left to keep me going.  He was my brother, my dear brother, and I would not allow him to become another statistic, with a heart as unfairly broken as his was.

Jack and I were born into the black and white. We had heard stories from our grandparents, of the world before our generation, a world of colour.
'What is colour Nanna, why can't you explain it?' Jack would ask.
'It is something we do not deserve.' The light in her eyes would dim as she says this.  It was always something that fascinated the children of our generation. A beautiful thing that our seniors could never put into words or show us.
So beautiful perhaps, that people would pay thousands to see it with their own eyes.
There were no historical accounts or photos. It merely seemed a legend that the senile elderly had conjured up for whatever reason.  If colour was everywhere then why wasn't it here now?
'We were punished.' Grandad would say. ' We took something that was good for granted and in moments it was gone.'  He never elaborated on this, nobody did. Since we could not see it, we did not believe it. All accept Jack, of course.

When Jack and I were adults, a revolutionary drug had found its way into Melbourne. A week had passed, everyone was addicted. 'FP' it was called. Later we learnt it stood for 'Fool's Paradise'. The drug allowed the user to see colour for what felt like too short a time. People in this saddened city were happy for once, and rightly so I had thought. Imagine, what it would be like for everyone to see the most beautiful thing in the world, at once. The grass beneath my feet was 'green' as nanna had called it, and so were my eyes. Some lips were pinker than others and Jack's skin was like porcelain. Life had been brought to the city and with time, people had their meaning. In moments, their meaning was lost.

The drug had started off as extremely cheap but over a year the price had risen to unaffordable heights.  I could never shake from my mind, the day I couldn't buy another pill. The day my happiness was  forcibly ripped from my firm grasp.
'Mum all I need is a little loan, please it'll all get back to you in a month or two I promise.' My mother would look at me with her broken blue eyes and run her shaky fingers through her bright red hair.
'I've got none left.' I felt myself sinking into the ground. Or at least, that's what I wanted to do. My lips throbbed and my throat clenched itself.
'What do you mean 'none left'?'
'I spent it all on the colours sweetie, can't you see?' She collapsed onto the floor in a pool of her filth and tears and I left her there, on her own.
That day, I was able to distinguish being alive with living, for I never lived again.

I was able to suppress my feelings, like most of us had done and we went on. Without colour. Our lives had ended here and yet we still continued. Somewhere between life and death. 'Limbo', as Grandad had called it. Even time couldn't restore ignorance.
Jack, the little boy who was fascinated with that beautiful thing he couldn't see, was never able to regain any part of him that once was. We were all broken but Jack was shattered, like a china doll.
'Dear sister of mine, did you know I dream in colour?' He placed his wet head on my shoulder, his eyes unnervingly dead.
'No, I didn't know that.'
'I am forced, every morning, to wake up and face another uncoloured day and pretend that nothing had ever happened to us all. The worst and best nothing.'
Jack squeezed my hand tightly and looked out of the window beside us, wincing at the sight of bland nothingness.
'What did we do to deserve a world with no colour?'
'We were living in a fool's paradise.'

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