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Coffee or cream?


I'm more of a tea person myself but when it comes to painting your new home it's difficult to decide what you'll be immersed in for the next few years. Colours can deeply impact your mindset. 

Scientists did a study where people were put into rooms with different coloured walls. The people were told to work like any other day and their feelings were recorded by the end of the hour. Red invoked anxiety in the workers, yellow was contentment and happiness, green increased productivity, while blue was the most calming colour. 

Coffee would be a wall full of anxiety, a splash of happiness and not enough meditation in my days to keep me sane. While cream on the other hand… I held the colour swatch closer to me to get a sense of its radiance. Was full of joyful yellow with perhaps a teaspoon of red. Meaningless happiness with a little voice at the back of my brain nagging me to "do more", to "be more" to work hard and provide meaning to my life instead of basking in the cheap instant gratification of social media. At least I'll have the impending need to meditate and tame my monkey brain with coffee. My family is coming over once they get back from their trip too, I need something that's welcoming.


I sighed and put the two paint swatches down on one of the shelves advertising paint rollers with its big yellow letters. That shelf has probably seen happier customers, newlyweds choosing a pale yellow to welcome their baby into the world, a child with his mother choosing a bright blue to paint his walls only to be repainted sky blue once he goes off to college. I glance over to the cashiers to peak at the employees. One was a teenager quickly and courteously scanning the old lady's items. He was working hard but his smile hadn’t quite reached his eyes. The young boy must have some sort of green or red tinted room. I scanned my eyes over to the next cashier, and an old woman, probably in her late 50's stood tall as if a string were pulling her back through the tip of her head straight up. She smiled as she waited for the next customer to step up to her till. She had the kind of look I imagine Mrs. Claus would have. Kindness seemed to radiate from her eyes and when she looked at you it was near impossible not to mirror her everlasting smile. She must have a yellow or blue coloured home filled with the smell of home cooking. 


I caught a glimpse of a worker restocking the shelf down the aisle. He quickly slid his gaze back to the paint rollers he was restocking. They must think I'm having a midlife crisis. A divorced man who lost half his money to his wife and only has joint custody of their one child. On the verge of breaking down from the search for love.

“Oou! You guys have those special rollers that have the small brush on the side”

The worker turned his head to me while putting the next brush on the shelf, he smiled

“Yeah, they help you really get into the crevices so you don’t have to worry about missing a spot” He paused as he loaded the last brush on the shelf. “You need help choosing paint colours? I've seen you standing there for quite a while"

I looked back at the sea of all the differently tinted whites… Is that what it's like to be 5th generation American? I thought to myself. That's a whole lot of white mystery. 

"I guess I could use your help, what would you recommend?" He seems quite humble. I might be able to get a good answer from this guy if his background is in art, or maybe he has 2 sisters who have honed his eye for colour theory. He doesn't look like much of an artist but you can't judge someone just from appearances.

He looked straight into my eyes as he said "I'm not much of an art guy, but I'll pass you over to Vanessa over there she has an eye for interior design" he gestured at a well put together young lady at the end of the aisle. "Follow me" She looked like she was experienced at giving advice. Or had the confidence to pretend to know what she was doing. So many people are good at talking themselves up to get a job but they don't give a satisfactory performance or paint colour in this case. I walked over to her as the young man introduced me to her. In the end it's my decision to buy whichever one I want. I created a chant in my mind I won't be pressured by some part-time employee. It's my decision to buy the one I want. I won't be pressured by some part-time employees

"Hi Vanessa, this gentleman here would like some help deciding the colour of his wall. Hope you can help!" He grinned.

"Thanks Adam, you're too kind always talking me up, but you should really stop sending all these people my way not everyone wants the modern style advice I can offer"

“Oh shush, modern is totally in right now” He winked and let us to our chat about the different tints and tones of walls. She asked me what kind of furniture I had and made some suggestions. Mural work is in, nowadays as well nothing too complicated just simple shapes on a wall can change the whole atmosphere. I have so many options before me, it's almost harder to decide now. 


I popped my shoes off and laid down on my bed. Vanessa’s business card stabbed my thigh through my pocket. Ugh why is it so hard to choose the colour of a wall? I placed the card on my nightstand next to my alarm, a ticking time bomb for another groggy wake up call in the morning. My pillow was like a cloud under my head. I miss my wife. Her figures combing through my hair as she waited for me to open my eyes, her eyes bright as the moon filled with love as warm as hot cocoa, the way she’d make my heart as ease when she embraced me. God, I love her. Sickness is a demon beyond compare. Our healthcare system hardly keeps up with the new mutations. I looked at our portrait. We only took one professional photo shoot together at our wedding. She insisted we take selfies almost every time we went out, it was the most annoying thing. I look so constipated in that photo but she looked like she had gotten married all over again. I let a smile crawl unto my lips.

She would be able to choose a colour within minutes. Look at me months into a new place and I’m still surrounded by this pale grey, a prisoner in my own home. 

What would she do? Maybe I should do something to honour her. She had always liked to try new things, when we got our first house together she had said to paint all the walls magenta, as a joke of course, but how funny would it be to actually do it? I’ll sleep on it, maybe not as bright though. While I’m at it I might as well get a mural too just to see what that artist is like.


I arose before the blaring ring of my alarm could attack my eardrums. I was on cloud nine that night. My ragged hands brushed back my hair with my ragged hands. Then dismissed the alarm. There’s something refreshing about waking up before you’re supposed to. Determination coursed through me. I turned down the radio before I put my plate in the sink. My phone rang while I called the paint company.

“Hello, Vee’s painting service, how may I help you?”

“Hi Vanessa, it’s Ron from the paint shop yesterday I made up my mind”


It’s strange to see so many cars in the driveway at once. Three isn’t even that much. The doorbell chimed and I went to open the door.

“Dad! It feels like forever!” A teenage boy stepped inside and hugged me.

He’s grown so much, he’s almost taller than me. “I’ve missed you son, how was your trip with your uncle and aunt?”

“It was great! I’ll tell you all about it when they come inside” He had his mother’s smile. He took his shoes off and ran to his room. “Woah, it’s all pink in here!”

I welcomed my sister and her husband in. She took one step into the house and stood in awe. “You’ve really changed the place”

“For the better I hope” I grinned and gave her a hug.

“Definitely better than what you had before”

“Wow, thanks”

We had a lovely time. After dinner I showed them around the place and introduced them to the new mural in my room.

“What do you guys think? I asked the painters to insinuate the feeling of clouds on the wall” I gestured at the cotton like figures on my wall. I looked at my sister and her husband. She didn’t look as excited as I thought she would. “Well it’s different…”

“It’s nice but why is it filled with dicks?”

“With what? Hold on” I took a closer look. The fluff of the clouds blended together in sort of a pattern. Which could be considered as the male genitalia. But it wasn’t that bad, I really had to look closely to see it.


I sent my sister and brother in law off. And found my son in the living room watching TV. I sat down in the chair next to him. “Hey, are the walls really that bad?”

“Of course not! I like the colour pinkish like what mom wanted to paint the place at first.” He lowered his voice down to a whisper “But you do know she was joking right? Might be awhile until I invite my friends over” 

“No, I didn’t mean the colour I meant the mural in my room”

“Oh that! I didn’t know you were into nudes of dudes”

“I’m not, it’s supposed to be of clouds!”

“Yeah, yeah, convince yourself otherwise”

I threw a cushion at him and wrapped my arms around him in a headlock. “I dare you to say that again” 


Before long I was in bed staring at the clouds. Is it really that bad? I did it in the spur of the moment to honor my late wife. Maybe it's too much and I just look like I'm going through my mid-life crisis. I guess it was bad enough for them to notice as soon as they walked in. Ugh, that son of mine he has to learn how to hold his tongue, though it is helpful.


“Hi, would I be able to have my walls redone? It seems this wasn’t the colour I was going for”

“Yes, of course, you have a 15% discount since we’ve worked with you in the past 3 months. Unfortunately, we have a lot of orders this month and we are only available to do your house next month”

Guess I'm stuck with this wall for a month. I glanced at my pale pink walls, it looked like a teenage girl’s room.  This is just like how I felt when I wanted a mullet from my hippie hair style but actually got a pixie cut. The other kids wouldn’t shut up for a month.



March 21, 2020 01:48

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4 comments

VJ Hamilton
01:12 Mar 26, 2020

Ha, this is a cute turn of events... working in psychological research on colours into a story about making decisions. I like how the narrator wonders about what colour of room the clerk has. The narrator has a wonderful imagination, thinking about what life phases other customers are in when they are choosing their colours. I found it very poignant when the narrator spoke of missing his wife: "Her [fingers] combing through my hair as she waited for me to open my eyes, her eyes bright as the moon filled with love, as warm as hot co...

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Faith Sea
00:03 Jul 05, 2020

Thank you! I really appreciate your thoughts on my writing, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Vrishni Maharaj
13:50 May 27, 2020

Great story!

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Faith Sea
00:04 Jul 05, 2020

Thank you!

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