The Colour of Regret

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by Bibi Hamblin

“What’s the colour of electricity?” I once asked my father.

“The colour of regret,” he replied.

I had trekked over mountains and skidded over glaciers to hear his answer.

Blue orange flames from the roaring fire flickered across his face. Slumped in his old armchair, he looked exhausted.

I sat down at the wooden table. In my dreams it had been laden with hospitality, laughter, love. In reality he could not even bear to sit with me, though that was what I craved most of all.

I have discovered to my cost that life is full of if onlys. If only my ears didn’t ring with the memory of his screams at his first sight of me. If only he had accepted me. Held me. If only he had agreed my request for a companion. If only he hadn’t abandoned me to the cruelties of a life I neither asked for, nor wanted.

But he rejected me again. Told me I was an abomination. Called me a creature, a creature that only deserved death. He stared down at his hands, cursing them for having made me.

Hurtful, hurtful words that continue to echo in my head whenever I lay down seeking comfort in sleep.

***

Every morning I wake from my tortured dreams, and stare into the mirror hanging above the mantlepiece in the sparse room I pretend to call home. The lightning bolt scar across my forehead glares back at me.

“What is the colour of electricity?” I ask the grotesque reflection.

“The colour of life,” it replies.

“And how do I rid myself of it?”

The face laughs.

***

In desperation, I decided to seek my father out one final time. On bended knees I would beg his forgiveness for whatever it was I had done. Perhaps then at last I would find the peace my heart so long desired.

I took my lonely seat at the wooden table and asked my father the question that had lingered on my tongue for so long.

“Will you give me the death I deserve, as you did the life I did not?” My rasping voice faded to a ghostly whisper.

A shadowy cough haunted his laughter. Then he spoke.

“Playing God isn’t as easy as I thought. But what I did, I did with the best of intentions,” he said, his gaze cold, arrogant, unflinching. “I was searching for a solution, for the answer to end all suffering. To cheat death itself.” He shook a bony finger at me. “But we can never cheat death, we can only lose everything we ever cared about.” His head dropped and he began to weep. And in that moment I felt something other than rage for the wretched figure. Then I held him close and just kept squeezing.


Bibi Hamblin is a certified workshop leader in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. A Londoner, she enjoys nothing better than adding and subtracting words. Her work has appeared in Sick Lit Magazine, Fable Online, Zeroflash and Visual Verse. She sometimes tweets @TuppyBee and sporadically blogs about books at https://tuppybee.wordpress.com/.

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