The Color Purple by Kelley Lusk

abstract of close-up of flashing lights - rays of blue, red, yellow and purple

I remember the glass shattering. Her fist breaching the window, instead of my face—there was red. Then blue. Or maybe it was blue, then red. A reddish blue, bluish red—purple, a dark purple confusion. Ten-year-old confusion. The oxygen hit my lungs well after it hit her skin, I was sure of this. Decades, or perhaps minutes later—blue uniforms filled the space of a dancing, red sky.

The day I was placed in foster care was a blur of colors. My pajamas were green with red candy canes, but it was not Christmas. It was March 24th, 83rd day of the year, 84th in a leap year. The shards of glass on the cement, covered in red, glistened in the light of the moon. The trailer was white, like my skin: white trash the kids at school called it. The lawn chair was orange and sitting in it was a chipped silver flip phone. After I ran outside, the rage bottled up in the trailer continued to swear in words of endless colors, dark colors. I could hear her yelling, breaking anything that got in her way—I knew better than to be in her way. Where’s my goddamn phone she repeated a thousand times over. I had a choice to make.

So I called 911. It wasn’t the first time, but this time was different. Maybe that’s why this time, she was put into the back of one cop car, as I was put into the front of another. My mother was wearing a yellow shirt with brown whiskey stains, telling the men in blue where they really belonged, and yelling, You can’t take my baby. I think she was talking about the whiskey.

The red sky became black when the lights stopped dancing. The officer driving gave me a tissue with purple flowers on it, that’s when I realized I was crying. I didn’t know where I was going or when I’d be back; nobody would tell me anything. It was probably my age. People always underestimated me because of my age.

We entered a building and an old lady with gray hair took a picture of me that felt like a mugshot. She handed me a change of clothes and a bottle of soap, and said, Follow me. I followed her down the hall and into the bathroom, You’ll feel better after you shower. I knew that wasn’t true, but I did it anyway.

There was a little girl who fell asleep on me under the fluorescent lights, She drooled. A lot. I wanted to sleep more than anything in that moment. Inching my way out from under the little girl I walked over to the old gray lady and asked if there was a place for me to sleep. She said I could use one of the empty bunks through the pink door, But don’t get too comfortable, you’ve been placed.

The blur of colors became a cloud of darkness as I realized what placed, really meant.

Kelley-LuskKelley Lusk was born in Coos Bay, Oregon but while growing up she embraced many west coast locations as home. Today she is located in Ashland, Oregon, and studies English at Southern Oregon University with a minor in vocal music. Anticipating Graduating magna cum laude in June 2019 with plans to attend graduate school the following semester. When she is not writing, she is exploring and can even be found chasing the stars off the coast of Mozambique.

 

 

STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/noahjguest

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