Once upon a time, in a land where everyone’s favourite colour was green, a little girl called Erica grew up and discovered that, unlike everyone else in her village, her favourite colour was actually red. When she realised this, she remembered her mom talking about Andrew, the neighbour’s kid who was a few years older than her.
“Poor Silva,” her mom said about Andrew’s mom, “She must’ve done bad things in her current or past life to be afflicted with a son who likes red! He’s such a negative influence on everyone in the neighbourhood.”
But Erica thought that Andrew was a very polite and nice kid who was always there when someone needed help. And everyone in the village used to say the same things about him before he told them that he liked red.
The same thing happened to Alexa when her mom found out that she had a red pair of socks in her drawer.
“It’s against nature and the laws of the gods that anyone should like anything other than green,” her mom preached to anyone who would listen; and many neighbours did because her mom was quite popular in the village. “Look at my Erica,” her mom would say, “disregard that she’s my daughter; but have you seen a better member of the green community?”
Erica felt embarrassed and ashamed for not liking the colour green, but she just couldn’t stand it. She just loved red, although she could never say it to her mom or to anyone.
One day, as she was coming back home from school, she saw a group of five kids gang up on Andrew and start beating him in the middle of the road. They punched him and kicked him and called him all kinds of names like “red lover”, “freak” and a whole list of obscene words. Lots of people were passing by, but no one even gave a second glance once they realized that it was Andrew being beaten. Some people even laughed and shouted “well done kids, beat the green back into him!”
Erica was both sad and afraid. She liked Andrew and still thought that he was a great kid, but she couldn’t interfere because the same would happen to her. She also couldn’t help Andrew before everyone was gone, so she just waited in the shadows until the other kids left, and there was no one else in the street.
That’s when she approached Andrew and saw how badly he was hurt. He was curled into a ball in the middle of the road, crying in suffering. He was bleeding from so many cuts and bruises everywhere, and his clothes were torn and dirty.
“Andrew,” Erica whispered, “they’re gone. Come with me.”
“Go away Erica,” he cried, “You don’t want to be seen with me!”
“Just come!” she pleaded.
Reluctantly, he let her help him up and take him to an alley which was out of the way. He collapsed against the wall, put his head between his knees and wailed.
“Why did they do this to you?” she asked him and instantly felt silly for it.
“It’s that damned red colour”, he said, “They act as if I have chosen to like it on purpose just to spite them!”
Erica just sat there and let him cry and unburden himself.
“Is this the first time this happened?” she asked Andrew.
He let out a mocking laugh and said, “I lost count how many times this happened! And it’s not always the same group. Whenever someone is not in a good mood, they blame their misfortune on me.”
“Why do you stay here then?” Erica asked him, “Why don’t you just leave the village?”
“The same thing will happen everywhere else when they find out I like red,” he explained.
“Then don’t tell them!” she proposed.
“I tried,” he confessed, “for so long, I kept it a secret. I just couldn’t anymore. I just couldn’t deny that part of me anymore because the lie became more and more painful each time I repeated that I liked green.”
Erica listened silently as she completely understood him. Even though she had recently discovered that she liked red, she felt the lie burn a bit more her every time she repeated it.
“So, I decided to tell my parents first,” Andrew said, “and instead of being there for me, they were the ones who turned on me first. After I had been deemed a model for every kid in town, I was turned into a pariah overnight.”
“But why do you still try to help them?” Erica asked.
“Just like I like red,” he answered, “I like helping people in need. It’s who I am.”
Erica sat with Andrew until he felt strong enough to pick himself up and go back home. Then she did the same.
The next morning, she woke up to the sound of commotion. When Andrew got home last night, he had a quarrel with his father who mocked his cuts and bruises and told him he deserved them. So, Andrew locked himself in his room and finally released himself from this wold’s cruelty. They found him in the morning embracing the red in his veins which surrounded him in a big puddle.
To this day, Erica’s secret burns within her chest, and each morning she wakes up feeling more wretched than the last. But it was either this or she would meet the same end as Andrew. On some days, her indifference towards the colour became a hatred of green, and it would be so intense that she seriously believed that Andrew had done the right thing.