I have synaesthesia. Not the kind where numbers have personalities or C major tastes like mint ice cream, but the kind where specific words, letters and days of the week have their own luminescent colours. I don’t see waterfalls of light or anything spectacular, but in my mind’s eye, Monday is orange, and May is rose pink. I thought this was normal and only discovered it was a genetic anomaly about a week ago. Who would have thought? But there you go; we all have different types of brains and must make the best of what we are given. After all, I could have been born with epilepsy or facial blindness or some other harrowing condition.
So anyway, there are these two women at my local church who drive me insane. According to them, anyone over thirty who isn’t married with kids is a foreign species, which includes me. As such, I’ve tried everything to fit in. Free babysitting, doubling up on morning tea duties and feigning interest in endless social media posts are just some of the requirements of my lowly status, as well as groveling, prolific praise and pretending I don’t mind their cruel, belittling comments. They bulldoze new parents, ostracise singles and exaggerate their children’s accomplishments. In addition, these diamond-ring warriors are patronising, spoilt, and I dare say, if their husbands left them, they’d probably keel over and crumble.
What I really hate, however, is their shallow, forced laughter. I know it sounds silly, but these women do not know how to truly open their lungs. When I laugh, I shriek and hiccough and my face goes red and splotchy. Sometimes, I wonder if I peeled back their makeup, their oversized cars and the hovering sycophants whether there would be anything left. And sometimes, I wonder why I crave their friendship at all. Why am I so desperate for their good opinion? Perhaps it’s simply a form of self-sabotage. Or a way to keep my ego in check. Whatever the case, they have caused me a lot of pain, rather like a festering pustule that never pops.
However, despite my reservations, a few weeks ago, I decided to suspend judgement. Saskia had invited me to play mini-golf with her and Veronica, and I agreed, thinking I had finally been accepted. I got there early and waited for half an hour before enquiring at reception. The lady peered over her spectacles and said that two people matching their description had completed the circuit several hours prior. She must have thought I was a complete looney! I apologised and left in a hurry, my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth. Had I mixed up the arrangements?
On Sunday, I kept my distance and sought refuge behind a tree. I was admiring a grasshopper ambling along a branch when their shrill voices caught the air. Veronica was whinging that her husband didn’t take enough initiative at work, and Saskia was complaining about her new manicure. Their skirts billowed, but their hair didn’t move an inch. While I munched on some melon, I spied a cupcake, glinting in the sun. I reached for it, but a pimply teenager swooped in like a wedge-tailed eagle and snatched it up. Pursing my lips, I took out my hand mirror and re-applied some lipstick. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, I thought. As if on cue, Veronica swivelled around and smiled.
‘Hi, Julie. I haven’t seen you in ages. Were you at church last week?’
‘Yes, yes, I was sitting up the back,’ I replied meekly, a metallic taste on my tongue.
‘Well, we’ll have to catch up soon,’ she said.
We agreed to meet at the cinema for a matinee and brunch, and I inscribed the date and time on my mind’s eye. On the day in question, I turned up: pumps, pearls, plucked eyebrows and all. I bought some popcorn and texted Veronica while I waited.
‘You got the wrong day, honey. Our catch up’s on Friday,’ Veronica texted back.
But I knew better. Friday is bright red, whereas Thursday is a soft, pastel lavender.
If you would like some creative writing prompts, check out my 100 Creative Writing Prompts on Teachers Pay Teachers.