Plain Jane Grey
Copywrite Peter G Barnett (aka Peter L. Barnes) 2019
The onesie upon the line, hung lifeless and unmoving, undisturbed by any breeze. Jane sat by the window and stared at her spinning wheel and tried to imagine a finished article but could not even envisage the start. She looked out at the nothing day, no wind, no rain, no snow on the ground, just a grey blankness from which no magical images would appear.
The path was not beaten to her door, the flowers had not bloomed; the bushes were withered and the leaves on the tree were very ordinary this year. Not the bright greens of spring, nor the vibrant dark greens of summer, and certainly not the red and orange colours of autumn. For all intents and purposes the outside world was merely a black and white version of normality.
Her heart was empty, a dark hole in her chest where love should preside. No matter how hard she tried, no-one came up to her standards, which were already pretty low. But even that was a lie, she hadn’t actually met anyone who had a vague interest in her. Her last date had been on the school bus where even her ‘boyfriend’ had sat in another seat and occasionally glanced her way. Well she supposed it wasn’t even a date, she just contrived to be on the same bus as he was.
She used to marvel about some of her friends, well acquaintances to be more accurate, who used to pick up boys at the drop of a hat. And then dump them as quickly, knowing there were more fish to hook at a moment’s notice. To try and improve her appearance she went to a colour match consultant but was given a simple array of greys and blacks, with the occasional white highlights.
She opened up her computer to see if anyone had responded to her friend requests only to be disappointed once again. She followed a few tweets of the soap opera stars, wondering why their lives did not reflect the story lines, before remembering that TV was not all reality shows. She didn’t enjoy the animal planet programmes because viewed in black and white, it made the commentary seem ridiculous and out of touch with her as a viewer.
Articles in the newspaper made painful reading, not only for the content but her eyes seemed to be taking an undue strain these days. She decided that she needed new glasses as her vision seemed to be losing focus, whether this was a euphemism of her life or reality she didn’t know.
Her visit to the optician was an eye opener. Besides being a bit of a dish, he diagnosed an unusual problem with her eyes, after a session with the Ishihara charts. The reality was that she didn’t see colours at all, in fact she could only see in black and white.
He gave her a pair of tinted glasses.
“Now look at the garden.”
She looked out at the rose garden behind his clinic and was astonished to see a row of pink roses.
“I will make up a special pair for you for your next visit which will show you even more colours.”
Jane’s life steadily improved from a dull grey outlook to a more colourful one even if it was only pink tinged. She looked forward to next week but thought a new outfit might be in order. Looking through the clothes shelves for ‘pink’ on the lable she finally found what she hoped would be a matching outfit.
Arriving at the clinic the optician gave her an odd stare at the new outfit.
“I think we can improve on your look once you have your new glasses.”
“Well it still doesn’t colour match,” he said in a kind voice. “Did an assistant help you?”
“Oh no I wouldn’t want them to be bothered with me,” said Jane. “I just looked for pink on the lable.”
“You do know that ‘Pink’ is a designer trade name?”
“No, I didn’t. Oh, dear is it awful.”
“No,” he said, “But we can do a lot better I’m sure.”
Did he say we, thought Jane?
“Now I need you to relax on your side and rest your head between the supports,” said the optician. “You’ll feel a tiny sharp pain, it’s only a local anaesthetic.”
“Now is that numb,” he said, touching the side of her head.
She felt some pressure on the side of her head.
“There, that’s done.”
“I’ve inserted two sensors into your brain where colour is detected,” he said. “They will make contact with these glasses.”
He showed her the frame he had chosen, with two gold contacts behind the ear hook.
“There are two cameras in the frame to give you a 3d vision, with colour.”
He fitted the glasses. “Now close your eyes for a second.”
He turned the chair around and sat her up. “Now open them.”
Her vision was assailed with multi-coloured hues and startling bright flashes. Greens, reds blues and yellows and all the colours of the rainbow, shone in the bright sunshine. A variety of roses and pretty flowers in the garden, made tears flow from the corners of her eyes.
“The glasses only have tunnel vision, so you can only really look forward to get the best effect.”
She looked down at her outfit and understood why he had said that there could be an improvement. “Oops orange and pink don’t really go do they.”
“No, but it could have been worse.” He said. “I’ll tell you what why don’t we meet for coffee at the local shopping mall? I’ll be finished in an hour and we can look through the clothes at Hollisters and see what we can find.”
“That’ll be lovely,” said Jane, her heart thumping for no reason at all, or more probably every reason.
She went outside, mounted her old-fashioned motorbike and kick-started it into life. “Now is that another euphemism or what,” she said to a startled patient entering the clinic.
“She sat at the Costa Coffee shop sipping her dark brown hot chocolate, wondering at the array of colourful outfits on the bright young things.
The chair opposite her scraped backwards as the optician sat down. “Sebastian by the way.”
“Jane but you knew that.”
“But no longer a calamity we hope.”
“Absolutely not,” said Jane, grinning like a cat. “Have I got chocolate on my lips?”
“Only a little chocolate smile,” he said, gently wiping the tops of her lips with the serviette. “Right let’s get over to the shop, shall we?”
They went for a mix of ‘born again, flower power’ tops and sparkly jeans. Some twinkly trainers finish off the look.
“I have to go,” said Sebastian. “Can I take you out this evening.”
“Uh not sure, I mean of course yes.”
“I’ll see you at seven then.”
Jane watched his honed body walk out of the mall and caught several other yummy mummies following his every move. He’s mine she thought, keep off.
She rode back to her cottage, panier bags full of packages. A small shower threatened to spoil her mood but the sight of her first rainbow that seemed to be resting on her roof where the chimney gleamed yellow reflecting the sunshine.
She was ready far too early but couldn’t help admiring her looks in the full-length mirror, normally kept hidden by a blanket draped over the top. Finally, the doorbell rang, and she flung open the door to find a vison in front of her. Gone was his white jacket from the clinic and instead an equally bright shirt and a red bandana showed off his holiday tan. He held out a flower and placed it in her hairband. They both looked straight out of the Woodstock and Free Love Era and they vowed to be hippy ever after.