The Rainbow Connection

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Erika dyed her hair a brilliant shade of red the day she came to Portland. That’s how I met her. I caught a glimpse of her with long, brown hair at school, and while walking the streets of the city I saw her again. I’m not sure how I recognized her, but I did. Her hair had been chopped to her ears and dyed. I ran up to her.

“You’re the new girl...Erika?”

She nodded and glanced behind her. “And you’re...”

“Aaran,” I said. “You sit beside me in art class...I think...”

The girl didn’t respond, so I asked her, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“You didn’t give me much of a choice, did you?”

“No,” I laughed nervously. “Why did you go and do that to your hair?”

“What? Chop it? Dye it? Because it reflects my emotions.”

“And what emotions would those be?”

“Pay attention, and maybe you’ll catch on,” she said, curving her lips the slightest bit. Then she tightened the collar of her jacket, and walked away.


Orange...Erika’s art piece a few months later was a bit orange, to say the least. Different shades slashed across the paper, and then she colored the tips of her black, shoulder-length hair with the brush. She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, as if to make sure I was paying attention, curved her lips, and continued. I watched as she made random streaks in her hair with the brush, and the next day, the color was still there. Only this time, it wasn’t paint. She had dyed it. Again.


“Erika,” I said, catching up to her at the movies over the summer. “How have you been?”

She shrugged. “Fine, I guess.”

“Your hair is...”

“Yellow?” she asked, brushing a long strand behind her ear.

“Yes,” I nodded. “I mean, it looks good, but...when we first met, you said that it reflects your emotions, and I really have no idea what that means.”

“Pay attention,” she said again, “and maybe you’ll catch on.” And I lost her in the darkness of the theater.


I didn’t recognize Erika on the first day of school. Actually, I nearly stepped on her.

“What are you doing down there?” I yelled, jumping back as she sat up, shaking grass out of her green pixie haircut.

She smiled. “Blending in.”

The way she said it...maybe it was a hint to the whole color situation. I took this into consideration and looked down at her. I took her hand in mine and pulled her up. “Come on,” I said. “We don’t want to be late for art.”


Blue paint covered her walls from top to bottom when she brought me into her room for the first time.

“Erika,” I said, “Does your room change color with your hair?”

She smiled a bit. “Bring me the hair dye, will you?”

I reached over and took the black dye in my hands.

“Could you help me with this one,” she asked me. “I don’t want to mess up.”

I nodded and helped her work the dye into her hair.

“Wow,” I said, after she had blown it dry. “It’s, umm, not black...”

“Blue,” she smiled, squeezing my hand as she looked in the mirror. “And it’s perfect.”


“You’re wearing indigo pants,” she said to me, as I took my seat beside her in art one day. I glanced at her canvas and down at my pants.

“Yep,” I said. “Looks like your painting is indigo, too.”

She smiled. “Yep.”

“And your hair.”

The smile stayed. I knew I was getting closer, but I just had to think about it harder...


Violets are supposed to be blue, right? You know, roses are red, violets are blue, I love you? But the violets I got for Erika were violet. The most brilliant shade I had ever seen.

“These are...perfect,” she said, running a violet painted finger along the petals, and brushing a strand of choppy violet hair behind her ear.

“Have I caught on yet?”

“You’re closer,” she said, and kissed my cheek.


Red was the color of the blood on the floor when I found Erika in the art room. Her hair was white, her clothes were white, and her canvas was...white. I took her head in my hands and cradled it until the paramedics came. I kissed her white lips. I willed her white eyelids to open, but there was no response. I found a small note in her pocket and followed the instructions carefully.


The inside of Erika’s room was white. Everything was white...except for a canvas at the other side of the room. It held a small picture with one dot for each color of the rainbow. I walked to it and read the word beneath each dot.

Red: Loneliness, abandonment, loss...

Orange: Frustration, too many emotions to get out...

Yellow: Finally found, a place to be free, not quite happiness, but getting there...

Green: The color of life, the color of feeling like I belong...

Blue: The color of getting myself in too deep...the color of having someone too close when I know I’ll lose him...

Indigo: Aaran.

Violet: In love, but lost...

White:

I stared at the blank spot next to the white dot. Should I...? I picked up the paintbrush and wrote what the note told me to, “The feeling of fear...the feeling of wanting something so badly, but not wanting to hurt...the feeling of death...”


The day of the funeral, I did something the note didn’t tell me to do. I picked up Erika’s paintbrush and made a careful black dot. Beside it, I wrote, “The feeling of losing someone...the feeling of wishing you could have stopped them...the feeling of...Erika.”

I dropped the brush to the white carpet, leaving black splatters all over the floor, and walked out of the room. I walked out of the house...away from her father, away from her home...The cemetery was cold, but I didn’t care. I set the canvas on her grave with the most violet colored violet I could find. Then I draped my black jacket over it all and walked away for the last time.

That was the very final time I ever saw Erika, her father, her house, or anything having to do with her life. But every now and then, I sit and think about what could have been, but will never be.





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