He saw her look once more. He looked away. He stood, put his earphones on, slung his backpack, then he risked another glance – she was doing the same thing. I’ve got to walk out of here fast, he thought. He fought his way through the crowd and made it to the door when something pink and shampoo-smelling whipped his face.
“I’m sorry!” a timid voice said. He helped her stand, but when he looked into her eyes…
Everyone at the café was staring at them. He took her hand and walked them out.
“Are you alright?” he said when they got out, “I’m sorry.” But she was already walking away.
Maybe this time, he thought. He caught up to her and apologized once more.
“Really,” she said, “it’s alright. Thanks.” She walked faster.
“H-hey,” he hesitated, “at least let me walk you home.” She didn’t reply.
Walking through the neighborhood, they were the only pink heads in the monochrome afternoon sea of dark blue, gray, and maroon.
Then she stopped at a house with a green garden. “This is it,” she squeaked, then opened their gate.
“Wait!” he called. He pulled out a card and handed it to her. “Call me,” he might have made it sound like a command. Please, he added in his head.
He watched her walk inside, and his hair returned to dull gray.
Jake, the calling card said. She has been keeping it in her wallet for days, unsure of what to do.
“You’ve got to give him a chance, you know,” her mom told her one day, when she couldn’t hide the pink of her hair. Her mom was beautiful, but her hair hardly changed from indigo, since her father had left them.
This afternoon her pink hair was streaked with yellow.
Without thinking, she dialed the number. She’s been doing this every afternoon, but she couldn’t bring herself to press the call button. She’s been playing, placing her thumb near the call button…
But this time her thumb had touched it.
She had pressed it.
Her yellows went red-orange.
“Oh no,” she panicked, “Oh no, no, no!” she pressed her face on her pillow as the phone rang. Don’t answer it, please, she thought.
“Hello?” the same cool baritone that had uttered at least five sentences to her said.
Pink. Bright pink.
“Um, hello?” she responded.
And they talked all night that night, and the night after that, and the whole week after that.
Before Harmony started calling every night, his hair was usually faded blue. But now, as he dressed for their first date, upon hearing her cool alto voice over the phone, it was the brightest of pink. He picked out a navy blue shirt, which he figured would bring out the pink hair best. He wanted to show her how much he’s in love.
Nothing could possibly go wrong this time, he thought, his hair changing slightly from pink to red-orange to pink again, as he walked down the few blocks to her house.
Then he caught sight of her. Her hair, the brightest pink he had ever seen, was so clearly standing out against the blue of her dress and the bronze of her skin. Apparently, they had the same idea to show off their love by wearing a color that would bring their hair out.
They greeted each other. Then they went to a near restaurant, where they had a most magical night.
Since the first date, her hair had never changed color. She started attracting attention at work because of her hair, but even the stare of a hundred people couldn’t match Jake’s melting gaze.
They went to restaurants, walked around the park, they even drove out of town; and in those moments her hair and his didn’t change colors.
They still talked on the phone every night and dated every weekend.
Sure, they might have missed a few weekends, but they’re consistent, nonetheless.
Like a routine one is obliged to do.
Sometimes his hair was a slightly paler pink.
“I’m so in love with you, Harmony.”
Sometimes with streaks of dark blue.
“It’s nothing. I’m just pretty exhausted, that’s all.”
Sometimes with streaks of gray.
“Don’t you want to do something… different?”
Her hair hasn’t changed color, though.
He thought this time would be different.
He was wrong.
He decided not to dye his hair anymore.
He’s gonna say it tonight.
One night he came with his hair completely black.
And that’s when she realized. She didn’t want to admit it, but she understood.
No sentences exchanged.
The platter of plates.
The classical music.
The aroma of the dishes.
A deafening silence.
“I’m really sorry,” he said.
“It’s alright,” she said.