- Vol. 05
- Chapter 11
Today it was Orange.
The name of the colour came easy to her. As soon as she opened her eyes, she was assaulted by the memory of her mother in their kitchen, handing her a segment of the fruit she had just peeled. She could taste the sweetness of it in her mouth, beating out the rank taste of the night before.
She licked her lips and held up her hand in front of her. Her life line stood out in contrast to the rest of her palm, and the veins under the skin of her wrist looked fluorescent, pumping something contagious through her body.
She swung her feet off her bed. The sheets underneath her creased in violent shades of Orange. The lamp in the corner – her only source of light, that lit up every morning at 7am on the dot and turned off at 9pm sharply – cast a horrible glow over her, like a gross substance had leaked out of a tube.
The sweetness wasn’t in her mouth anymore. She could tell this was going to be a painful colour. She would have a headache in a few hours, and her appetite wouldn’t last after breakfast. She felt bile rise up in her throat at the thought of an Orange plate, with Orange eggs and Orange bread and Orange salt cascading from her fingers as she tried to overpower the look of it with the rough flavour.
Obscene. The word was one she didn’t think she had heard in years, probably not since she enjoyed reading on pages that were black on white. She tested it out, her vocal chords scratching the inside of her throat. Obscene, she said, and the word matched everything around her. Orange was Obscene. The conclusion made her uncomfortable. She folded her arms across her chest and hugged herself tight enough to feel the soft flesh hurt against her ribcage.
What’s that? What did you say?
She flinched at the sound of one of the Voices. They usually didn’t speak to her until after she had eaten, when the empty plate had disappeared and she was sat behind a table facing the wall. She tried to remember what she was meant to do. There was no table yet, and this was a new Voice. It went up and down with every word, and sounded girlish. An Orange Voice. An Obscene Voice.
She blinked carefully and chose an Orange wall to stare at. Her mouth made an ‘O’ shape.
Obscene, she said again. Orange.
The Orange Voice laughed. It was delighted.
That’s a new one, isn’t it? Her file never mentioned orange before.
There were more Voices in the background, the Voices she was meant to ignore when she heard them. The Orange Voice laughed again.
That’s so cool. On my first day too, Camilla, wow.
The background Voices buzzed angrily.
Oh, sorry. I mean, Patient Six-five-six. It’s - I think it’s time for breakfast. Eggs today, yum!