Grayscale | TeenInk


May 9, 2016
By r0ck_0n BRONZE, Seattle, Washington
r0ck_0n BRONZE, Seattle, Washington
4 articles 2 photos 0 comments

Imagine a blank canvas.  A white page just waiting to be streaked with paints and to be made into a masterpiece.  Swooping lines, a clear subject, and vibrant colors all make this masterpiece its true self.  Now imagine this work of art with the absence of color, is it still beautiful?  This grayscale view of life is the way Fin lives in the near future.  This shy, juvenile boy has creativity equivalent to the greatest artists.  Fin is a dark-haired and pale skinned boy who creates masterpieces at his fingertips despite his color-less situation.
Fin struggles with his artistic freedom because he lives in a colorless world.  Gray sky, black trees, and beige clouds are a result of the massive pollution created by past inhabitants of earth.  The pollution has created a mask over the sun, resulting in a dimly-lit world and all of nature deprived of sunlight and bright colors.  In an effort to gain money to fix the pollution problem, the government issued a law forbidding color because it was too expensive to produce.  Little by little, colorful houses, clothing, and art began disappearing from earth like fog evaporating into thin air, resulting in this struggling world.  Fin lived in a colorful world when he was a toddler, but he vaguely remembers it.  He tries to recall what color was like and attempts to recreate it through his paintings.
When the laws were issued abandoning color, Fin’s grandmother hid away a few tubes of acrylic paint in the colors of the rainbow.  One day, Fin’s grandmother pulled him aside and spoke to him.
“Fin,” she said, “I may not be around much longer as the pollution plus my asthma makes it difficult to breathe, so I wanted to give you something.”  At this point, she pulled a small, wooden box out of her jacket and opened the lid.  Inside were paints in vibrant colors Fin had never seen before, or even fathomed.  Fin was astonished and overjoyed.
“Where did you get these?” Fin asked his grandmother in awe.
“I hid them away before the laws forbidding color were issued.  Be careful with the paints so the government doesn’t find out about them, but I wanted you to experience the beauty of color,” replied the elderly woman.
“Thank you so much,” Fin whispered with gratification. 
“You’re welcome,” Fin’s grandmother replied, “I hope that this world will return to its former self and that you will have a colorful future.”
Later that month, Fin’s grandmother’s asthma became unbearable with the contaminated air, so she moved across the country to the sea where the air was slightly cleaner. 
Because Fin possesses the illegal color, he must paint in seclusion.  If an individual, other than his immediate family, were to find out about the paints, there would be terrible consequences.  If word spread that Fin owned color, the government was bound to hear about it and severely punish him and his family.  Consequently, Fin paints wearing a cloak of fear—an environment that often limits an artist’s creativity.  Alone in his gray, third-story room, Fin paints carefully and infrequently so he will not be caught. 
One night, Fin was painting and lacked the inspiration to continue.  When art blocks like these arose, Fin always regained creativity through nature.  Fin decided to go outside and take a walk.  He arrived at an empty field and attempted to see the stars through the murky haze that covered the sky like a blanket.  He inhaled the polluted air as he sat down amidst the gray blades of grass surrounding him and searched the sky for stars.  Suddenly, a harsh voice called out to him.
“What are you doing out so late at night?” yelled a man who Fin recognized as a government official perusing the nearby streets.  The man’s flashlight was shining directly on Fin.
“I’m looking at the stars,” answered Fin, a bit frightened.
The official responded, “What do you mean?  There are no stars that can be seen on this planet!”
“I just wanted to try,” Fin said quietly as he started to walk away.
“Not so fast,” said the official, “What do I see on your hand?”
Fin looked down at his hand and his heart stopped.  He noticed a streak of emerald colored paint on his palm and the official did too.  The official had never seen color before, so the both of them stood staring at the paint—one in terror, the other with curiosity.
“It’s nothing!” cried Fin as he shoved his hand in his pocket and sprinted down the dark street. 
Fin looked behind him to find the official returning to his car, radio in hand, reporting Fin’s green colored palm to the government.  He had been caught.
Fin ran as fast as his body would let him.  He thought of places he could run to where he would be temporarily safe from the government.  Then, Fin remembered the small forest behind his house where his childhood tree house remained.  The tree house was overgrown with vines, roots, and branches, so it would be the perfect place to hide.
Instead of running straight to the tree house, Fin ran inside his house, grabbed his precious box of paints, and headed out the back door.  He arrived at the tree house and maneuvered through the brush to get inside.  Fin was breathless, scratched from the branches, and alone. 
That night, police car lights lit up the dark, and sirens wailed through the air like howling wolves.  To make matters worse, a storm was moving closer and the rain fell heavier by the second, pounding like fists on the walls of the tree house.  Fin tried to sleep, but was too afraid.  Thunder boomed and wind whipped as he tried to shelter his box of paints from the wet rain dripping through a crack in the tree house’s roof.  For hours, the rain continued, and it seemed like it would never end.  At the break of dawn, without warning, the violent storm stopped.  Fin peered out the tree house’s small window and was blinded by the sun appearing from behind the beige clouds.  At this moment, a miraculous sight was to be seen as a full-color rainbow appeared in the gray sky.  Fin looked up with his mouth agape at the vivid colors painted in the sky.  He stood in the shelter of the tree house, caught up in the moment. 
Fin was bewildered at the sight of the rainbow.  He had only heard of such an event from his grandmother who had seen one when color existed long ago.  Fin believed that this incredible occasion was a sign that he would be safe from the government’s grasp and that earth’s black and white condition would soon change.  Fin turned his face towards the colorful sky, and he hoped for the day when color would return to his grayscale world and warm the hearts of its inhabitants.

The author's comments:

This story started from a random idea I stumbled upon one day.  I love to make art as well as read dystopian novels, and this story is a crazy mix of the things I love.

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