I find that the rain dripping from my grandfather’s roof tastes of tar. The old miser shouts for Casper and me to go outside to play and we go because the rainwater is warmer than his ocean of mottled grey carpet and its solitary lighthouse television, a blinking beacon reversed: instead of stay away—danger!—this one beckons him closer. Casper and I wanted the bright flash whizzbang kaleidoscope of cartoons but the miser had been lured in by that lighthouse siren singing the slow soft songs of his youth, those ancient mildewed television shows of yesteryear. I don’t begrudge him his soporific but my brother is so early in his own spring that he cannot yet imagine the bleakness of another’s winter.
I tell Casper that old shows are in black and white because the world was black and white back then, the same fairy tale our father told me when I was Casper’s age, before him and mom were lost in the flood. I don’t cringe at the lie because it’s the truth, at least for the miser. He watched life slip by through that high-contrast duality—this is right, this is wrong, this is left, this is right, this is black, this is white. So when the phantasmagoria of modern life surfaced beneath him like a leviathan, he failed to recognize that even his precious black and white had always been a variegated spectrum of greys.
So I don’t argue when the miser siphons the technicolor from the room and sends us out into the storm. We huddle beneath the eaves as water drips from the roof through our hair, over our freckles, onto our tongues. The Kentucky blue grass squeals with joy under our slippery sneakers as we dash as fast as we can then plant our feet and slide hard down the hill toward the culvert. Casper and I lie on our backs in the grass, soaked and streaked with green. We open our mouths and drink in the dull grey storm.
Overhead, lightning cracks color back into the world.
Jeremy John Parker is a writer, book designer, and the fiction editor for Outlook Springs. A recipient of the 2015 Tom Williams Prize in Fiction, judged by Kevin Brockmeier, and a semifinalist for The Hudson Prize, his Pushcart Prize-nominated stories have appeared in The Normal School and decomP magazinE.