Pink is a distraction, Keva thought.
Whenever she walked down a busy street peppered with passersby, her eyes were what caused the second glance. She had small, diamond shaped eyes with the color of deep bubblegum inside the iris were specs of lilac and other bits of purple. Very attention-grabbing. A person would whip their head around in her direction, ignoring the too-wide gap in her teeth when she sucked in a breath and the beauty mark above her lip that was much too large to be considered beautiful.
“Are those your real eyes?” Was the forever-asked question.
She would stop to look the person and the city’s smoky smell would pool into her nostrils. She didn’t notice the pollution in the air as much when she was in motion.
“Are my eyes real? Yes. Is the color real? No.” She would answer curtly, ignoring a shaking in her bones. She never meant to sound rude but only the upset tone would coat her mouth. Keva would then touch her crown braid and trudge pass the person, an awkward gesture for goodbye.
Keva sighed, pulling her orange coat tighter around her and picked at her oddly fitting royal blue boots. She liked bright, almost obnoxious colors for a reason. The colors were often a great diversion from her facial flaws and communication skills. She had since learned it was better for others to be baffled by pink contacts than the scar above her eye. Her black coiled hair with neon green streaks greeted her in the shop’s clear window.
She needed to pick up her mother’s cake quickly. No more mental dawdling.
A sickly-sweet tune played inside the very white cake shop. White walls, white floors, and white display cases coupled with the giddy tune made Keva feel like she was enclosed in a marshmallow. Not the most comforting thought considering that marshmallows are disgusting.
A heavyset elderly man with an off-white cotton shirt ironed to perfection stood up from his seat behind the counter. As if an artist had skillfully etched them in there, bags hung underneath his eyes. He swung a gray apron around his waist and put on an expectant face.
“Can I help ya?” The shopkeeper asked her, his voice somewhere between polite and impatient.
Keva fumbled with her hands for a moment and watched her yellow nail polish glitter from the shop’s lights. “I… My mom, Jean Knight, ordered a cake from you.”
He bent down pulling out a rack from the display case before pushing it back into position. He placed a white box decorated with pink cursive writing next to the cash register.
“Ain’t you hot, kid?” He wiped his brow and his gray-blue eyes almost narrowed. “It’s a scorcher outside. Doing all I can to keep my cakes alive.”
Keva bit her lip.
“Aren’t you just supposed to ring up the cake?” she said instead of the kinder “Not really.” Inside, she cringed. Rude words just seemed to be on the tip of her tongue.
“I am,” the shopkeeper said, pulling out a roll of receipt paper. Once he finished reloading the register, he peered at her closely. His eyes did narrow this time and he didn’t look pleased.
“You got neon hair—” He started. The shopkeeper rubbed his eyes. “—And pink eyes. You wearing some type of costume?” She could hear the light whisper of a disapproving tone.
Keva looked away and focused on smoothing out her stack of dollars.
“It’s still $12.15, right?” she ignored his question.
The shopkeeper’s voice was gruffer now perhaps upset that she had dismissed his question. “Yeah, yeah. You got any coupons?”
“Then $12.15 it is.” He handed her a plastic bag and received her cash, already untying his apron.
Keva frowned. “You’re not going to bag it?”
The shopkeeper sighed and less than dutifully bagged the white cake box. Keva’s frown only deepened. For once her array of mismatched colors had invited distaste and not camouflage for herself.
“Enjoy your cake.”
“You too,” Keva said automatically. The old man smirked and shooed her off with a wave of his hand. How she wanted to cringe violently! “You too”? Why couldn’t she have just glared and walked out? If the cake shop wasn’t a small business, she would have complained to the manager for the nosy service. At least then she wouldn’t have made a fool of herself.
Careful not to bump into the man on the bike who noticeably almost ran into a pole trying to catch her gaze, Keva jiggled the white plastic bag around.
You too! The memory snickered in her head, blowing up the insignificant remark ten times bigger. Keva sighed.
A glance at her watch let her know the bus wouldn’t arrive for another twenty minutes.
She sat on a bus stop bench and pulled the cake from its plastic jail. She stared at the pink cursive writing on the front, “Ezekiel’s Cake Shop” before lifting the box flap. “Happy Birthday, Keva Knight, for you are more colorful than any clothing you have ever worn -Mom.”
“Pink is a good distraction,” she murmured, staring at the pink words.