Short Story – Colours

I wrote this piece for my first year creative writing course.It’s very different from my usual style.


The cuffs press into my wrists, and red marks have exploded up my lower arm as the cool metal chafes against my skin. It burns where the restraints lodged against my thumb. Red on white. Those colours happen to me a lot, naturally irony would have it that they are on me now. Both mine.

A hand yanks my head back to look up at the silhouette of a large man. My eyes haven’t adjusted to the station’s lights before he speaks.

“Listen to what’s being said to you.” His spit hits my face “You’re in a bad position. First you’re dealing opium in broad daylight and now you’ve gone and stabbed a guy. You’ve fallen far down a dark alley, little girl.”

I’m a boy. I tell him. “You fat oaf,” I add.

He puffs his chest out, showing off that shiny officer badge. From this angle, the light bounces off it and makes it shine like headlights. I couldn’t read it if I tried.

“Your birth records say otherwise.”

I spit into his face with what malice I can. He slams my head forward. My scalp stings and a few loose hairs tumble down my arms. Heavy thudding accompanies the officer’s uneven steps as he moves away. I try to watch his feet from where I am, to no avail. I slowly raise my head and every muscle throbs in pain.

He takes this huge black folder from somewhere just outside of my sight and starts to flick through it. He slows down towards the end. For a moment I see my own mugshot flick past. All wild hair and bruises. Black and blue.

“Maximillion Wu,” the officer says. He begins to outline my past to me, a whole list of events that brought me here. As if I didn’t know. Parents moved over from China, was designated female at birth, came out transgender, dropped out of school at sixteen, ran away from home just after and went missing for a few years – at least to them I was – and got involved with weed, cocaine, then heroin. He paused here to smirk at me. I stared back at him. For a moment I consider trying to hit him. His badge caught the light again and I refused to blink. Went to rehab once, he continued, “tut tut.”

I kept my gaze steady.

“And you were in jail for some time for opium trade, but you never did any of it yourself,” he raised an eyebrow.

“Shit fucks you up,” I say.

“You had a nice little black market going for a while didn’t you? Your little smooth operation was going all unnoticed untill…”

“’Till that son-of-a-bitch ratted me out” I grit my teeth.

He watched me for a while, but I said nothing more. He knew who I meant, and I certainly knew who I was talking about. Nothing more needed to be said.

“So,”he broke the silence, “You end up in a detention facility and still can’t pull yourself together.”

And he starts another long rant about my past, things I already know. As though the first time wasn’t enough. Got in a fight with the staff, beat up one of the other kids there, broke a window, pick-pocketed everyone within reach, stole keys and tried to escape, eventually had to be restrained then sent to a prison to be properly ‘corrected’.

I turned my gaze back to my wrists. A familiar blue was starting to ooze up through the red.

“As soon as you got out of jail the first thing you go and do is stab the kid.”

I didn’t respond. This only happened a few hours ago.

“Well, well, well,” he continued, “Your little criminal operations could have just been left as water under the bridge, if ye had only kept a lid on that temper of yours.”

I jolted forwards, but there was a hand in my hair, tugging my head back, forcing me down. My hands clenched in my lap and my fingernails bit into my skin.

“It’s not about temper,” I growled out.

My neck was pushed further back, muscles twitching.

“If it wasn’t about your bad temper,” he snarled in my face, “You wouldn’t have been brought down here.”

I don’t have an argument for that. My head is shoved back down again, and I tense my jaw to stop myself from crying out. Loose hairs land in my lap. The bitter taste of iron spreads across my tongue. I don’t spit it out.

“Let’s see. Possession of illegal drugs, selling illegal drugs, assault, theft, attempted murder – is there anything you haven’t done, brat?”

“Murder,” I reply. It’s true.

“Kid, you are in deep shit. Screw around all you like but you could end up locked away for life. You clearly got something messed up in that scrappy head of yours that makes you think you can get away with breaking the law. This is the way of this country, you got that? You aren’t an exception to this.”

I’ve had this talk before so I ignore it. He goes on about my sour attitude and the way I’ve refused to respond to any kind of help. Didn’t show to any detentions, failed all exams, parent’s didn’t even show to PTA’s. The officer starts asking me about them. He asks why there was no comment from them, why they never visited, their jobs. I don’t answer. I start craving a cigarette. I start craving a cigarette really badly.

After a while he gives up and picks up the folder. I get one last look at my own eyes staring back at me, before it’s shut and put away forever. Just like me.


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