What Color is Joy?
As one of the newest PfaP interns, I was very excited when I was invited (based on my passion for writing) to create a fictional story about Pack for a Purpose. Spending the early years of my childhood in the Virgin Islands, I couldn’t wait to put my writing talents to good use to come up with a short story about a school in the BVI being brought supplies. My Great Grandfather was born in the BVI before immigrating to the Virgin Islands, so it means a lot to me that PfaP can help children in that area and contribute to making it easier for them to get them the supplies they need.
I want to color. I want to fill a page with yellows, and oranges, and reds until the paper in front of me pops with brightness. I want to draw a wide ocean and fill that ocean with the fish from our local beaches. I want to draw a blue iguana with a purple tail and square eyes. I want to mix green with yellow and red until a picture of my mother’s mango tree forms on the page. I want to color.
I dropped my swinging feet into the mouth of my sandals, tightening the straps before leaving my desk. It was still early. Light peeking through the cuts in the palm trees made bright lines across the tan floor in the classroom. I traced the corner of my foot along the lines, pretending it was a broken ladder and that everything else around it was lava. I went up the bright ladder until I came to the tin crayon box that sat on top of a wooden chair in front of the blackboard.
I opened the box and stuck my finger inside, stirring through the broken crayons and crunched up colors. The only crayons that were still good were the ones we never used, so there were lots of white and black and gray. I picked up a purple, it being just a stub and closed the crayon box.
Ms. Moravian, my teacher came into the classroom as I hurried back to my seat. Her lips were bright red today, and her hair laid straight to her shoulder instead of in a bun like she had every day before. The class and I stood up and said good morning.
“Good morning class,” she said, and then we all took our seats. “Class, do you know what today is?” Ms. Moravian asked.
Lilly, who sat two seats down from me, raised her hand. It had been the first time she had done it since losing her two front teeth a week ago. Since then she would only talk with her hand over her mouth, but we could still tell from the lisp. “It is Thursday,” Lilly said.
“Yes Lilly, but what is special about this Thursday?” Ms. Moravian asked.
I pressed the purple crayon against my paper as it quickly turned to dust and crumbs in my hand. The purple stained my fingertips, and I used the side of my pants leg to wipe some off. As I did, I looked over to the window, two seagulls fighting over a French fry and a white car I had never seen before parked outside.
There was a knock at the door, and Ms. Moravian clapped her hand once to get our attention and told us to be on our best behavior. She opened the door, as a tall man and a short woman walked into the classroom carrying a suitcase. The man took off his sunglasses. The skin on his forehead was darker than the skin around his eyes. The lady beside him had bright yellow hair and wore a long orange dress that touched the top of her sandals as a hat made of straw sat on her head.
We all stared at them from our seats as Ms. Moravian shook their hands. The tall man with hairy legs put the small suitcase onto the table.
“This is Roger and Brenda, two Pack for a Purpose travelers who have come all the way from America and have brought new supplies for the class,” Ms. Moravian said.
The man and woman walked up to the front of the classroom and stood beside a world map that was taped to the board. He asked us if we knew where America was and Lilly raised her hand again.
“There,” Lilly said as she pointed to the map with one hand and covered her mouth with the other.
“Where?” the man asked as he smiled. He then called Lilly up to the board and she pressed her finger on what looked like a picture of a rooster on the map. “Very good. Do you know where New York is?” Lilly shook her head. The man then pointed to the neck of the rooster, sunlight bouncing off his silver watch.
“What’s New York like?” Lilly asked.
“Cold,” the woman said. They then told us about the city and how the buildings there were as big as whales and how the lights shined like stars all night long.
Ms. Moravian pulled the small suitcase to the front of the class and placed it on a long table., “Come—come children and see the supplies they brought.”
I was the first to get up as everyone stayed in their seat. I walked over to the suitcase as the man opened it. It was like a rainbow inside. There were yellows, and greens, and reds, and blue, purple, orange—so many different colors that I could not count them all. Even the paper was colored. The other students crowded around me from behind, as I felt their breathing warm my neck. Lilly stood beside me, the space from her missing teeth showing from smiling so much. We emptied everything out of the suitcase as the man and woman continued their stories. My head filled with pictures of everything they had said and when they left I drew it all just like I had imagined it.