Colour Me Happy

by Linda Hibbin

Competition theme: 'Between'

‘You’re going to do WHAT?’

Beth’s kids, well, kids no longer really … Pete was forty-four and Nick six years younger … her kids were shocked. Beth thought the word ‘dumbfounded’  accurately described their nonplussed expressions. It was a rare, uplifting experience having that effect on her sons.

‘I’m going to skydive. For charity.’

Beth grinned as the men exchanged looks.

‘She’s flipped her lid,’ Pete said.

‘Mum, you can’t be serious. At your age—’

Beth raised her hand. ‘Stop right there, Nick. What do you mean—’

‘You shouldn’t be doing stuff like that,’ Nick snapped.

They’re treating me like a deluded geriatric. Boys, there’s still a teenager inside this time-worn exterior.

‘I see. You think I should be watching TV, drinking endless cups of tea or knocking back the wine, going to Bingo—ninety-year-olds have skydived, and I want to do it,’ Beth replied stubbornly.

‘We’re just concerned. There must be other things you could do. What about white water rafting or driving a racing car—’

‘Not a good idea, Pete, she’s safer in the air,’ Nick muttered, recalling a fresh dent in his mum’s car.

‘Okay. Go on a zip wire, take a microlight flight, wing walk if you must do something  …’ Pete trailed off. He recognised the look on Beth’s face. She was resolute.

After a pause, he asked, ‘Why?’

Beth couldn’t tell them she was tired of living in greyscale, no longer had a purpose in life, and experienced no joy. They didn’t realise that inside her was something that haemorrhaged colour from her life, and during the worse moments, she was struggling through air as black and solid as obsidian.

They wouldn’t understand if she told them her thoughts became inky cobwebs or maleficent, dark-loving devils circled, swooping like bats hissing, lisping, whispering, demoralising and loving her simultaneously … and that she believed every word they uttered.

No. Beth didn’t tell them any of this.

She wanted excitement. No, not that, exactly. Beth wanted to remember her feelings before the darkness took hold of her. She hadn’t seen it coming. Didn’t understand why it chose her.

There was nothing wrong with her life. It was just that … she was sixty-five soon. Seventy was racing towards her at warp speed. Living the rest of life in this predictable fashion seemed pointless. She wanted … a frisson of excitement … something new to look forward to. Something to gee up the adrenaline and make her feel alive, not old and getting older.

She craved moments that inspired and motivated her to pick up the paintbrush. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d painted. and remembered the magic of blending into parallel universes as creamy paint spread across the rough canvas. Somewhere along the line, she’d lost herself. Where was the original Beth?

When she saw the poster advertising the skydive, her heart skipped. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Oh, yes, yes, yes.’

She moved forward and took Pete’s hand. ‘Why? I’ve always wanted to do it,’ which was true. ‘You can do it with me,’ Beth told her sons, knowing they would instead undergo root canal work without anaesthesia.

‘You want your brain tested, Mum,’ Nick muttered.

Beth knew that privately they would discuss their loopy mother and decide the time had arrived they needed to keep a closer eye on her. There was often an irritating reversal of roles. Pete had a habit, half in jest, of adopting a tone of voice as if talking to a child, especially when a gremlin in her laptop, not her, had created a problem. Nick was no better. He’d recently reminded her of the dangers of divulging personal details to the seemingly trustworthy. As if.

Generally, Beth found their treatment amusing. Knew that they loved her, but they couldn’t take away the badness in her head.

I want to silence the chattering monkeys bounding around in the velodrome of my skull, chatter chatter chattering faster and louder. 

Nick and Pete helped raise donations. Beth sensed their growing respect as no amount of persuasion could make her change her mind about throwing herself out of an aeroplane at a God-forsaken height.

Beth perched on the edge of a ten-thousand-foot abyss.

I’m between Heaven and Earth    between God and the Devil    between a portal to endless galaxies and the Earth’s burning core    beyond the azure there’s infinite nothingness    velvet blackness and dizzying starlight    a void I feel myself falling into when I gaze at the night sky

here is my world blanketed in clouds so thick so dense I could almost step out and walk on the infinite hues of subtle iridescent white and blue and grey most people are unaware of and artists endeavour to capture

‘Ready, Beth?’ shouted the skydiver she was strapped to, making himself heard above the roar of the wind. She nodded with enthusiasm, smiling to herself. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so close to a man. She was enjoying every moment.

‘Edge forward, Beth.’

edging forward    edging forward    feet in the clouds    tipping forward    tip tip tipping forward    forgetting to breathe    thrusting into the emptiness    a moment suspended in the air current then dropping    down    down    the ether flowing between outstretched fingertips  cheeks rippling    the wind smooching cold lips and roaring in ears    I’m a bird flying with featherless wings    I’m a crucifix    a cross    a kiss in the blue


A jolt as the parachute opened.

Silence. Floating. Drifting betwixt Heaven’s azure canopy and Mother Earth.

Far below, the miniature patchwork of the verdant landscape stretched to the horizon. The sheer distance was overwhelming, giving a fresh perspective of life and making Beth realise how small she was.

She just didn’t want to be insignificant.

ye gods    so many greens    no wonder we sing greensleeves    the green green grass of home  green grow the rushes   chlorophyll green    fern mint moss    living breathing Gaia

As they drifted lower, her companion twisted the chute, and they twirled round and round eyes following the unbroken line of the horizon. Beth could see tiny clusters of farms, a distant town, disinterested cattle, field workers, and her sons waiting below. Her boys. So proud of their mother. They had told her so.



what do you see 

greyscale no longer    my soul is painted every shade tone and hue    daubed with Picasso’s impasto green-blue and Monet’s rippling infusions    enlightened with Van Gogh’s cadmium yellow-pale

hear my heart sing    it joyfully sings





‘I’ve found ME,’ Beth shouted happily betwixt Heaven’s azure canopy and verdant Mother Earth.

‘This is ME.’