You know what colours my life used to be. You were there, me a baby and then a dimpled child, when the blush left my cream cheeks and I hacked up blood with my coughs. Even then you spoke to me of horses, like magic. Mamma and Daddy asked you, my Aunt Susie, to nurse me, and when I was better you kept the promise I’d forced from your smiling lips and you gave me that horse, the only one I’ve ever owned. I called her Dolly and with my mind I painted her colourful to show the world she belonged to me.
That was not so long ago, but it clings to me now like the memory of a happy dream in a grey world. I thought I’d be happy forever, but happiness bothers me now – I cannot understand it. My present is small, only this envelope, sealed with my love and addressed to you, Aunt Susie. I had forgotten you until now. Amongst my happiness, I think – oh Aunt Susie – you slipped out through holes in my thoughts. New colours, new pleasures were distracting me.
Dolly and I both saw him, last summer, resting, grinning by the lake. It was morning and thin white clouds were being burned away by the rising crimson sun. I lay there with him and giggled as the lapping blue water tickled our toes. Dolly bent her head to drink and pretended not to see.
We stayed, he and I, until to our surprise night came. The lake at our feet had a chilly touch. We reached out to each other, slowly at first but then more and more, holding, touching. The stars above joined us, making us one heart, a parted union, and our childhood colours glowed like a flame just before it goes out.
A star stayed with me, Aunt Susie. From that night. I can feel it sharp against the red of my inside. It is darker than the others and I think it is more than a memory. I think there is more permanence to it than that.
So I’m writing to tell you that I can’t see colour anymore. It’s painful to think about, as though it’s somehow a thing I loved that’s slipped away. Dolly hangs her head now, as if she is afraid – and when I look at her, her eyes are cold and empty like betrayal.
This envelope is for you. I can’t see where it’s going, but it’s the only thing that will join my past to a future I don’t understand. I have tried to draw around it with the colours that used to be mine but it’s still blankness. So I’m sending it all to you – you whose care gave me my colours back once before – and I am hoping for your help. Until then, I have to go home to Mamma and Daddy. I have to go, and stroke Dolly’s coat that is now as dark as the star stuck inside me.
Illustrator: Kirsty Baynham
Writer: Elizabeth Bourne