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'Colour Fluent' by Rebecca Klassen

LISP 2nd Half 2021 Flash Fiction Winner, 'Colour Fluent' by Rebecca Klassen



Colour Fluent


All the websites said to choose somewhere happy and comforting, so we’re in a holiday park chalet. Organ music drifts into the bedroom, and I close the window, seeing families wander past carrying inflatables and swim-capped children. I’m behind the curtain, giving my son a peek into the adult world.

Use language he’ll understand, a repetition of their advice when telling him Nana had died – don’t say sleeping, say dead.

Why am I trusting a resource where pains are always cancer, and clicking the link below empties your bank account? Surely bipolar and emotional dysregulation can’t be explained in a child-friendly way. Suicide is a meaningless word to a child who doesn’t want to miss a moment by sleeping. His language is wizard roleplay, but no one overdoses in Harry Potter.

‘Nana had a poorly brain,’ I say.

‘What was wrong with it?’

‘Her brain made her so sad that she decided she had to die. So, she made herself die.’ I’ve said die too much and hope I can buy him enough candy floss that his sugar hangover makes him forget my words.


‘Was Nana’s brain a different colour?’ he asks.

‘No, but if it was, it would have been black. Except when she was with you.’ He nods because he already knew that last part.

‘My brain is rainbow-coloured,’ he says, ‘because I’m usually happy.’

‘Are you happy now?’

‘I wish I could magic Nana’s brain rainbow-coloured.’ He waves an imaginary wand. ‘Take that, black brain!’ Then he takes my hand. ‘Is your brain black?’

I think a moment. ‘Mine’s green like grass and bogeys.’

He laughs and tells me it’s time for the funfair. Your child’s resilience will surprise you, the websites said. I decide to buy us a bucket of candy floss each.



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