The Sixth


Her eyes stared off into the distance, blank and unseeing. What a shame, he thought; such an attractive young girl yet afflicted that way. One of her auburn curls repeatedly fell in front of her eyes. Each time she’d tuck it behind her ear, no irritation in her movements, just care and attention. When she’d entered his workshop he hadn’t at first noticed she was blind. He’d been busy working on his latest canvas, putting the ultimate touches to the sky. He’d promised himself he’d complete it that day and, true to form, he’d done so.

That she had negotiated her way unaided amongst the many small tables that were scattered around his workshop, each piled high with Christmas decorations, might explain why he had failed to notice she was blind. He wasn’t an untidy person, but painting had got between him and festooning the house with the tiny glass balls of all the colours of the rainbow.

Now she stood next to the table, his latest canvas flat in front of her. When she’d insisted he lay the painting on the table, he been worried she might damage it. The oils were far from dry and one clumsy movement would give him days of work. But as he watched her delicate hands glide some inches above the painting, he knew he had nothing to fear.

Oh!” she exclaimed. “This is wonderful!” Her outstretched fingers hovered over the rainbow that hung low in the rain filled sky. It had taken him ages to capture the tension between the pelting rain and the emerging sun. “Such a burst of warmth and colour,” she enthused.

Her index finger repeatedly ran along the lower rim of the rainbow as if searching for something. He shifted his attention from her fingers to her face. It seemed painfully intrusive to stare at someone who couldn’t stare back, but the intensity of her expressions fascinated him. Thoughts and emotions were constantly flickering across her face. She looked so guileless. As he watched, a question seemed to form. “Something’s missing,” she finally said. “Here!

Her index finger pointed at the lower edge of the rainbow. He looked closely, but could see nothing. “I don’t see,” he said. What a silly thing to say, in the circumstances, he thought, feeling embarrassed. “Yes,” she insisted. “Something dark and smooth that feels like velvet. Something so deep and rich you could fall into it and lose yourself,” she continued. He still couldn’t grasp what she was getting at. “Just a touch of it. Like a faint sliver wedged between the other colours, but so powerful.”

He leaned forward to look closer. It was then that she took hold of his hand, and gentling stretching out his index finger she pointed it to the violet edge of the rainbow. “Of course!” he exclaimed. “How could I possibly not have seen that!” He laughed and she laughed with him. “I’ve forgotten the sixth colour without which no rainbow can be complete. Indigo.

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