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I stir the pot, gazing into the well of paint. The usual pain in my aged fingers intensifies as I stir harder, and faster. Faster and faster. The pain reminds me that this is real. After all the years of careful measuring, recording, grinding, and testing. I had succeeded.
People thought I was mad, muttering to myself as I raked the forest for special plants. They thought I was crazed, and obsessed. “Maybe I am mad,” I mutter to myself. Maybe I threw my life away like everyone said I did, all for the quest of color. They ridiculed me for it. Color was only a myth. The sky had always been white. The earth had always been black. Everything else was grey. Rainstorms were always scheduled. Food always grew in cans.
But I’d seen it in a dream once. A color. I couldn’t describe it because I didn’t know how. It was lighter than black, darker than white, not grey. It was something intense, bright, and beautiful. Bewitching. I had dreamed it, and I had it now.
I can’t stop the grating laugh rumbling from my throat and the smile of delight that cracks across my face. I scoop up a handful of the creamy paste, so much like mud. It is a miracle. I let some the perfect smoothness ooze through my gnarled fingers and drip onto the dirt floor. I want it to be everywhere. I want to slather it all over me and rub it into my skin and hair. I wanted to smell it, taste it, hear it, breathe it. I wanted to be the color. I wanted to die with it surrounding me.
I shriek in glee and splash it on the dented table, on the peeling walls, on the door that served as the only window. The gentle plip of the liquid flung on the walls gets faster, louder, longer. My limbs shake from excitement and exertion. Indoors isn’t enough. I stagger out the door, leaning against it and looking out into the hard white light. I jump forward; throw the color into the air where it splashes against the sky. I spin in a circle, clutching the pot to me. I can’t stop laughing.
I scream when I trip, smashing into roughness as the pot flies in a spinning arc to smash against the ground. The clear shattering closes my ears as I pull myself to it. Desperate. Sobbing. I try to soak it up with my fingers, and scoop it back into the pot. But it’s slippery. It soaks instantly into the ground. I can see it below the surface, staining the black earth with veins of color. I needed it. I scream in despair. I rip at my wispy hair and don’t feel the pain. My nails crack and break as I pound against the unforgiving blackness of the soil. I’d lost it. My color.
The Magistry police burst into the air with an electric shock. Their white suits shine, their faces are hidden behind reflective visors. They grab my wrists and yank me upwards.
“Undo it! Undo it now!” They scream at me. They shove their batons into my ribs, and hold my head steady. Then shake it. They have no effect on me. I am done caring. Something drips on my face and they freeze. There is another drip, and another. It trickles down my face, dripping from my chin. One of them makes a high keening in their throat. They throw me to the ground in horror.
Their white suits get splattered, the grey trees, the grey roads, all get splashed. The sky opens, and my color rains down to the ground. The sky is my color, the earth is my color. Everywhere, it is flying everywhere. The police are shrieking, moaning, sinking to the ground.
“Witch!” A gasp.
They are crazed. They are frantic, and they grow desperate.
“Stop it now!” One screams in a hysterics. I just laugh and smile. Tears run in rivulets down my wrinkled face. It’s everywhere. My color. I laugh and the police get angry. As one strikes me in the head with his baton, I still laugh. My color still surrounds me. My color destroys everything. I am dying, with red staining my hands.