What Was Your Favorite Color Growing Up

Kathleen Boland


If you walked into that house you’d think you’ve just walked out of it. It always smells like toast. Toast and fertilizer. There are a lot of green plants around but none of them are alive, unless you believe plastic breathes, and the man in there does. He does tai chi after breakfast every morning but calls it yoga. If you saw it you’d call it dancing. There’s nothing blue in the house because the woman in there thinks blue should only be for the sky. After you arrive she’ll decide to live in the backyard with the stacks of half-melted records. Lots of reggae. No soul. You’ll want to ask her, what about the blues, but I wouldn’t. There are no bedrooms in the house, only closets, and the closets all have porcelain white sinks. Water’s everywhere, mold like bruises on the ceilings, and yet when you ask, they’ll say they’ve never made toast. Soon you might think you’ve never made toast. Don’t worry, that’s normal. The kitchen is pink. The kitchen is also yellow. This will make sense when you’re there. You should open the refrigerator. There’ll be a small girl in there with purple eyes and gold teeth. Crack a joke and she might smile, but she almost never does. The man and the woman know she’s there and they won’t talk about her if you ask. Don’t touch the girl. Just watch her. She’ll count off her fingers. Her fingers will be so large, so swollen, and you won’t know her name. You don’t need to. Her hands are covered in something that looks like black paint but it isn’t. You’ll wonder if she’s cold, if you’re cold. You’ll wonder how long she stays in there. Again, this is normal. There’ll be eggs and apples in the fridge with her, but that doesn’t matter unless you’re hungry. I’d only eat an apple if I were you. An orange one. The girl will show you the number when she’s done, her fingers dark and sticky. The number will be higher than you think and it’ll follow you around the house like a song. The woman will start to talk in circles in the yard. It’ll sound like coughing. You should nod if she ever looks at you. There isn’t a working record player but the man always dances. Like most things you’ll hate it but watch it anyway. In the house, the nights are like days, like a windowless room with florescent lights, and you won’t be able to sleep. You’ll wonder if the light ever turns off in the fridge, you’ll forget which of the sinks work. Days slip by like overripe bananas. It’ll finally happen over dinner. You’ll realize the man’s eyes are purple, that you’ve never seen the woman smile. The dinner will be eggs. Remember, only an apple. You won’t be able to look at them after this, so look at the table. Think of all of people and places you’ve forgotten. Quietly, in unison, they’ll ask you for the number. If you remember it, they’ll let you leave, and when you do, you’ll realize how long it’s been, how blue.


Kathleen Boland is the editorial assistant of The Southern Review and an MFA candidate at Louisiana State University. This is her first publication.