Written by Solar Lin
Art by Sean Sinclair
Red was the color of the backpack that Loren mistakenly took home on her first day of elementary school.
She only realized that she took the wrong bag after her mother asked her to do her homework and saw another person’s scribbly handwriting all over the notebook that wasn’t hers at all. The very next day in class, Loren stood on top of her table and held the bag like a prized trophy she’d won, shouting that she’ll claim the bag as hers if no one else did. Then a girl jumped in front of her out of nowhere, her hair wild and her eyes furious, pointing her finger at Loren and accusing her of thievery. A brawl broke out between Loren and the girl and they were only separated after a tattletale reported the incident to the homeroom teacher.
That was the day Loren first met Cara.
Orange was the color of the crayon their second-grade teacher forced Loren and Cara to share.
Loren had forgotten that she was supposed to bring crayons that day, while Cara had forgotten that there was an art class at all. Loren wasn’t thrilled to be seated with the crass girl who jabbed her dirty fingers at her, and Cara didn’t want to sit next to the girl who was going to take her favorite bag. The teacher scolded them for being fussy, and didn’t let them swap partners or even go home to take their crayons. In the end, Loren and Cara begrudgingly shared the tiny crayon until not a chalk of it was left.
That day, Loren and Cara sat together at lunch. Only because they were the last people in the classroom, and not because Loren secretly didn’t have anyone else to sit with—absolutely not.
Yellow was the color of the school bus that Loren insisted on riding on.
Her mother had always driven her to school up to that point, but after stepping into the sixth grade, Loren felt like it was time for her to ride the bus. Little did she know, the bus was crowded with kids she hardly recognized. She didn’t even know where to sit or if there were any spots left for her. Loren thought about turning back and asking her mother to drive her, before she spotted Cara sitting alone in the backseat, already staring at her.
Loren thought, fine. It’s better to sit with Cara than to sit with a group of gum-spitting boys anyway.
Green was the color of the leaf in the woods of Birkstyria National Park.
The park would be a wonderful place for a seventh-grade field trip, if it wasn’t so incredibly vast that it was easy for carefree kids to get lost. Loren had teased Cara and stolen her keychain, and Cara had chased her to get it back. The two ran around for what felt like hours, and they only realized that none of their teachers or classmates were in sight after they’d exhausted their stamina. At first, they were excited about being able to get away from the teachers’ prying eyes for a change, but then night fell and the woods darkened and neither of them had any idea on how to find their way back. Eventually, the teacher found the two cowering underneath a tree, with their hands in each other’s. The teacher said it was a relief that a classmate noticed that they were absent, or they would’ve been left out in the wilderness until who knows when.
Cara’s hand tightened upon hearing that, and she didn’t let go of Loren’s hand the whole way home. Strangely, Loren didn’t mind.
Blue was the color of the ribbon Loren gave to Cara on her fourteenth birthday.
She had worked a part-time job as a dog-walker for months in order to afford that ribbon, though she would never tell Cara that. Just something I found laying around in my house, no big deal, Loren said when Cara asked her where she bought it. Loren didn’t know that Cara saw her the day Loren bought the ribbon. She was about to approach and ask Loren what she was doing when she heard Loren speak to the shopkeeper. The best ribbon you have, please. For my best friend’s birthday. It has to be blue, to match her eyes.
Cara kept that secret to herself and wore the ribbon every day.
Indigo was the color of the midnight sky that Loren and Cara sat under, right before high school started.
Loren climbed to Cara’s room the moment she heard Cara’s sobs leaked through the phone, and Cara dragged Loren to the roof to keep her from hearing her parents’ shouts downstairs. They said nothing and sat in silence all night, while Loren occasionally wiped Cara’s tears from her cheek. The last thing Loren remembered was Cara asking her if she’d like to come to her house again, and Loren saying yes almost instantly.
The next morning, Loren woke up with the sun on her face and Cara’s head on her shoulder.
Violet was the color of Cara’s dress that she wore on their high school’s spring dance.
Loren was never one for dances or fancy parties—she wasn’t even planning on going. But suddenly Cara showed up in her dress, her blue ribbon intricately braided into her black hair, and Loren never knew just how beautiful flashing lights and disco balls could be when they were reflected in Cara’s cerulean eyes.
Loren was glad that Cara had forced her to attend the spring dance. She wouldn’t have known just how perfectly Cara fits in her arm as they sway to the music together, if she hadn’t come.
Red was the color of Cara’s cheeks in the dead of a winter night.
She and Loren were walking home together after a long day of studying at the library for their final exam, and the snow was raging. When Loren dropped Cara off at her doorsteps, Cara asked Loren if the storm messed up her hair or if her face looked awful from being whipped by the wind for one hour straight. Loren was so tempted to tease her and say that her hair looked like a rat’s nest, but she was too exhausted to joke around, and decided to tell the truth instead. Loren told Cara that she looked beautiful.
Loren hadn’t anticipated for colors to rise to Cara’s cheeks, hints of pink spreading on her nose. Whether it’s from the cold or from something else entirely, Loren didn’t know. Loren didn’t dare to ask.
Orange was the color of the sunset Loren and Cara watched together on their high school farewell trip to Amber Island.
Somehow they were separated from the group, and Cara laughed as she reminisced about the time they were lost in a national park, all those years ago. It’s just like how it was back then—you led me astray and I stupidly followed you, she remarked. Loren only smiled. The situation was the same, yes, but everything else was different. They weren’t scared, they knew their way back home, and there were no terrifying shadows lurking in the trees anymore.
Only one thing remained the same: Cara’s hand on Loren’s palm, never letting go.
Yellow was the color of the daffodil Loren gave to Cara.
Just so you won’t miss me too much in university, Loren jested. Cara smacked her head as rosy tints blossomed in her cheeks, mumbling Get outta your ass, Vale, and tucked the flower carefully in between her book. We’ll stay friends, won’t we? Cara asked once the announcement for her plane boarding boomed through the speaker. Friends, Loren nodded. Of course.
Loren should’ve asked Cara to give her a flower, too. Or anything of hers that she could hold.
Green was the color of the lanyard Loren wore as a teaching assistant.
Juggling between the job and her own studies wasn’t easy, but Loren never complained, not one bit. It puzzled her parents to see their daughter working from dawn to dusk. Loren didn’t know how to say that her only motivation was to see Cara’s smile in person rather than on screen after three long years. Eventually, Loren only answered, I wanted to visit my best friend.
Her parents only smiled knowingly to themselves, and Loren worked harder.
Blue was the color of the ribbon Cara wore on her hair, the same shade of blue that Loren gave years ago.
It was the first thing Loren saw after being separated from Cara for nearly four years, and her heart almost gave out at how relieved she was to see Cara again. On impulse, Loren ran all across the airport, her body colliding into Cara. About time, Vale, Cara whispered in her embrace. Loren couldn’t get a word out, for fear of every emotion she felt flooding out, all at once.
She only made a silent promise to always be with her, for as long as she could.
Indigo was the color of the sky outside of Loren’s apartment balcony.
Both Loren and Cara had just graduated, and they decided that a comfortable night-in was a merrier celebration than any parties they were invited to. They bought wine and cooked dinner together, talking about their future underneath a sky embroidered with a thousand stars.
But no stars were brighter than the ring Loren offered Cara.
Gold was the color of the glasses of champagne, raised to Loren and Cara’s honor. It was the color of Loren’s hair underneath the sun, veiled by white tulle that draped down her back. It was the color of the spark in Cara’s eyes as she stood at the altar, waiting for Loren as Loren walked down the aisle. It was the glint of their rings on their fingers as they said, I do.