Black And White

Entry by: jaguar

2nd May 2016

‘It’s black and white,’ you said pointing at the fading fire.

‘It’s a million shades of grey,’ I insisted.

‘I can make the grey as black or white as a magpie.’ Squinting at the bonfire ash I thought I could see the distinct colours. I almost believed you could separate them because you were capable of magic. Then the wind stormed down the beach mixing the ash with half-burnt debris from our picnic and random rubbish brought in with the new tide.

We were just kids in a seaside town where more seasonal shutdowns became permanent each year. Where our future closed down. Gone for the winter, spring, summer, fall. Job opportunities disappeared like popping bubbles. Our first summer you worked in a restaurant. Your borrowed white shirt tucked into black trousers. Your dark hair shining against my pallid skin.

Red nights balanced fag-ashed days. At the end of your shifts I liked to wait for the waiter. The tinny music in my ears drowned out by the seagulls screaming at the infinite sky. The restaurant closed just after I left school. Then the silence grew throughout our flight inland as the bubbles kept bursting.

I cried longer each time we moved until my unhappiness became more permanent than you could counter with your ambitious plans. That last flat tormented me with its snapshots of sky from the roof-light above our chessboard. I never won a game in ten years, my mind couldn’t see ahead of yours.

I kept seeing a single magpie, its calls a blend between a pneumatic drill and a giggle. One for sorrow unless you said 'Morning Mister Magpie, how's your wife and kids?' fast. I made two big mistakes but they balance each other. If I was wrong to choose you I was right to leave. There’s sunlight on my face now so my eyelids look red from the inside too.

‘I’m four inches taller,’ you used to laugh. “I can see further.'

But you saw nothing, not even the lone magpie, day after day. You didn’t understand the sea never lets its children go. You didn’t feel it coming right inland and pulling me away to a different future, one muddied by the past. You were right about it being black and white but now it's tinged with blue.