Fiction by Shauna Friesen

Our Last Day With Orange

Tomorrow the god is shutting off orange.

We have already lost red on account of our wickedness. Our blood runs black as crude-oil when we are cut. Our stuck-out tongues are the color of sharkskin. Paprika is ash in our shakers and the fruit-jelly we slick onto our bread is closer to cable grease.
“What did we do wrong?” we ask.
“I guess I use the lord’s name in vain pretty often.”
“I shoplifted these earrings. Could that be it?”
“I definitely let the sun go down on my anger.”
We didn’t think we’d have our stop-signs taken for it. Dance-club neons and rose petals and crawfish boils and silk evening gowns. Lipsticks are being sold in shades of slate and concrete and smoky-quartz. Agates look aphid-sucked and rubies have the dark, colorless glint of gunmetal.
If our ribcages were splayed open, our hearts would be living lumps of tar in our chests.
“Is it because I didn’t go to church on Easter?”
“Because I slept with my coworker’s husband?”
“I know I shouldn’t have kept that wallet I found. But any of you would have done the same.”
It is impossible to say which of our sins have set the god to unraveling the seven-stranded rainbow, but we don’t waste any time when the second warning comes.

We gorge ourselves on tangerines until we are up to our ankles in rind.

Shopping trolleys brim with persimmons and pumpkin-filling and gallons of Tang. We are dressed in fluorescent construction-wear, slapping cubed cheddar and butterscotch candies out of each other’s hands, tipping gumball machines, cracking eggs on the sidewalks to watch the yolks run.

The line is out the door at every paint-mixing counter, where quart cans of day-glo and terra-cotta and fire-coral are demanded. We dip our feet and hands, hold the semi-gloss in tight fists, drag brushes up our forearms and over our clavicles.
“Are we going to lose sunsets?”
“The harvest moon?”
“How’s hell going to look now?”
“And Halloween?”
We picture grayscaled king-crabs and creamsicles and cut cantaloupes. Marigolds and monarchs and marmalade.
Some of us flush our goldfish in our anger.
Some of us fall to our knees to worship traffic cones.
Some of us swarm the Grand Canyon, elbowing desperate through throngs of visitors for one glimpse of the earth’s ochre yawn.
Some of us put torches to citrus-trees and watch neon lick whole groves to black skeletons.

To me, orange is hunger.”
“It’s a color that shrieks.”
“Does anyone else think the number nine is orange?”
“The letter K?”
“Tuesday, too.”
“And every song with violin.”
“When you can’t remember where you last had something. That feeling is super orange.”
“My daughter,” one of us weeps, and she holds her newborn close. She’s not going to remember it.”

The sun coppers and crouches low. Clouds gather to taunt us, lurid and syrupy as preserved peaches. From our rooftops, our praises are being sounded to the glazed cirrus.
We beg the god to leave us in this honeyed light, barter our eternities for the cedar-sap to run down our throats a little longer. The god could amber us where we stand if we might be allowed to keep one mouthful for later of our final, sticky feast of orange.
When morning comes, all tigers and foxes look arctic. Common larks have been made of the orioles and the koi have silvered in their ponds. Our clementines and carrots seem carved from granite. Rust cannot be told from steel. Volcanoes spew lava dull as spring thaw sludge.
We light candles, and the flames burn white hot as our rage.
“Don’t you have anything better to do?” we scream at the sky.
“Tell us how to fix this!”
The god only turns up his palms and laughs. Yellow is next.”

Shauna Friesen

Twitter: @friesenwrites
IG: @shaunaexplores

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