A person of colour? by Kevin Murphy

Kevin’s question about the trigger ‘irony’:

A person of colour?

‘Murky.’ I mumbled, as we screwed up our eyes against the deep orange sun setting on our life art class.


‘Cheek! ‘I said, ‘My dad used to say my eyes were Mersey Green. That’s pretty murky.’

‘Ah well,’ she chuckled, ‘mine don’t get commented on, of course.’

‘They’re lovely eyes!’ I said, inadvertently blurting … then blushing.

‘Colour, I mean,’ she said, turning to me with her eyes wide.

We stood inspecting each other, on the now gold steps of the old Arts Institute building, she drawing in for a closer look.

‘Yours are multi coloured!’ she said, ‘sparkling like jewels.’

‘Multi! Coloured? I see yours have a black rim around … do all Irises?’

‘I don’t know any Irises,’ she laughed and looked around to find us alone. She moved in for a very close inspection.

I could smell her sweet breath … and her breasts.

We were eyeball to eyeball and breast to breast. Warm. Soft. She was engrossed, ‘yellow, green – several shades, brown and grey.’

She wasn’t looking past my eyes and into my soul. Good thing as she may have seen too much. ‘Yeah. Not murky, but I think your dad may have meant…’ she looked across at the horizon, ‘…can’t see any sea from here, but the Mersey, as if from a boat, twinkling in a sunset. Mmm and not murky but delightful bright green.’

She seized my head in her hands and turned it full into what remained of the day. I was held like a doll. Fully.

My hands lose by my side, at ease. How so? We had only met once before at the art class. I didn’t even know her name.

‘Very pretty! Diamonds are completely clear, aren’t they? However, their appeal is in the many facets flashing out rainbows from the, er… dark side of the moon, thingies?’

‘Prisms. Refracting all the colours of the rainbow.’

‘That’s it, yeah.’

She, still holding my head, looked at my face. Her black face at my white face. And smiled. ‘Rainbow.’

Her cheeks reflected many hues of blue. Blue-black they call it, but in fact in there were silvery, turquoise and emerald sheens shed from her cheeks and forehead.

‘Your freckles – they’re light brown, but do you know they have a white perimeter.’

I didn’t, but she went on.

‘And they’re not round like polka dots, they’re all shapes.’

‘Blobs?’ I said.

‘Yeah … murky … blobs?’

‘They say I am white and you … black. I’ve been musing at the whole spectrum glistening from your silken skin.’

‘Yeah. Black hair and brown eyes. Half the world’s population – but black skin?’ She stopped. Now she looked into me.

‘Pretty ironic,’ I said, ‘I’m not a white girl and you’re not a black girl. Coloured.’

A sharp intake of breath for both of us.

‘And how ironic was that life class,’ she said, ‘drawing a white man…’

‘…with charcoal!

She holding my face, oh, so gently, we breathed in time. My breasts swelled against hers as I took in her exhaling breath. I thought of cocking my head, but it didn’t seem fair to spoil the moment. Anyway I could see deep into her soul, now. It was bright, and all the colours of the Caribbean.

She could see the welcome in my body, from the inside out.

Our breaths mingled. She let her hands fade from my face as the gap between us closed so imperceptibly, that I am now not sure … if she did kiss me.