By Nix Winter
"I don't know. Your hair," Janet said, fat fingers reaching to touch long stringy hair, "It's just mouse brown."
The harvest gold refrigerator said nothing. Eyes the color of nothing watched Janet. Pong played around the corner in the living room. A boy laughed. A digital ball smacked back and forth. Bing.
Uneven clipped steps, larger and smaller, tires slicing wet on payment, a sweating hand holding a smaller one. It was 1973. It was San Francisco. It was Haight Ashbury. Black Beauties were money. Children were money. The mother paused at a phone booth, stepped just slightly inside. Curls, framed her face, divided on the side, like Marilyn Monroe. Her name was Marilyn too.
She jerked the child closer. Nothing colored eyes narrowed, then the face relaxed, smiled compliantly. Light brown hair clung to the child's face. Home was Mom's hand.
Mom hissed, eyes wide, frantic. "Stay close!"
There were demons.
A hotel room painted in beige, browns, cigarette smoke and shadows swallowed them. It was a cave. Children don't understand money. Children don't understand good intentions.
Drug withdraw understands nothing, wants nothing, burns everything.
"Seventy two hours," Mom promised.
Corners. Corners are good, solid against the back. Hunger understands nothing.
Sweat boiled Mom's skin. She fought demons.
Grandfather was not a good man.
He was a very bad man.
Underdog always saves the day!
Metal insisted against paper, dot, dot, dot.
"You do understand that this is the best choice," the social worker said.
It might have been the first time or the second time. The welfare office was painted in wood tones and plastic. Plastic was so modern.
Princesses have long brown hair. Pretty princesses get saved by powerful heros.
The foster home had two floors. It was painted in sunlight and Cheerios. It had a mother. It had a father. It had six bunk beds. It already had a real daughter.
Two girls knelt on the bottom bunk. One skinny with nothing colored eyes and long brown hair, sat with her hands on her knees. The other had her own story. She had paler hair, a rounder face, her own bed. She spread her knees apart. "Do it. Or I'll tell my mommy you did it."
Long brown hair drops like a curtain between the place of far away and the world filled with demons.
"It burns!" Hair color clung to long hair like purple mud.
"It's the ammonia," Janet said, annoyed. "Do you want your hair to be red or not."
Mom hated red. Nothing colored eyes gained a little bit of brown, a little bit of gray.
It was 1982.
The wedding dress was blue. Only virgins can wear white.
It was 1983.
He was twenty-eight. Mouse Nothing was born in 1966.
From Nothing came Layla and Jamie. Mouse Nothing had grey eyes.
Mouse Nothing changed her name. Mama had grey eyes and red hair.
It was 1987.
A small blond girl bounced in a jumper. California summer morning warmed the kitchen. Mama painted the house with joy, safety, and love. Long red hair, purple plastic framed glasses and a huge brilliant smile painted Mama perfectly. She leaned over, smiling at her daughter. The little girl had a cracker in one hand, a slice of cheese in the other. Mama held up another slice of cheese. The little girl looked at the cracker, her first slice of cheese, at the slice of cheese in Mama's hand, then she opened her mouth.
It was 2007.
Organization and reasonable expectations painted the therapist's room. A slender man with neat brown hair and a pen in his hand. Tap.
"I understand that it feels like she's abandoning you, but you need to understand that she's not. You've done a good job. Your daughter is in college. She's living a good life," he said with a smile, a well meaning and knowledgeable smile.
"She doesn't like me. She looks down on me," Mama said. Gray ran down her cheeks, leaving her eyes empty.
Mouse Nothing asked, "Why doesn't anyone understand why it hurts so badly? My family has left me."
He nodded. "At this phase in her life, it's like she's Arthur and she's looking to you to be Merlin, but you don't want to be Merlin. You still want to be Arthur."
White light is made up of every color.
Grief is the grave.
If there was an Arthur, he lived in a world without central heating. He lived in a world of roads pounded into being by the footsteps of humans and horses, the creak of wooden wheels. His story talks about a powerful sword named Excalibur. The Lady of the Lake rose from the depths to had the gleaming blade to his heroic hand.
There is a Mouse Nothing. She lives in a world where the buses run mostly on time and fast food pounds life expectancy back towards Arthur's expectations. The magic sword is made of cunning. It is made of will to survive strong enough that it might be a sin in some religions.
Clickity, click, clickity...
Nix Winter has published many books. Erotica is money.
Words are love.
Love is not money.
It is 2011.
Finn types, "So? Do you want to be called Sebastian?"
Mouse Nothing smiles, and types back, "Yeah. Yeah, I do."
Sebastian owns the gleaming blade of Excalibur. Every day is new. Grief is not the grave. Grief is a dragon and it is each Arthur who faces each dragon. Blue is painted by tears, with hope. Sebastian's eyes are blue, even if his hair is brown.