Missing Orange

Sabastian Crane was 38 years old, had greasy black hair, a droopy, thin mustache, but importantly, he was not crazy.

He was sitting at his sister’s kitchen table colouring pictures with his 5-year-old niece, Kelsey. They each had a colouring book and in the middle of the table was a pile of mis-matched markers of various shapes and sizes.

Kelsey, had been colouring a picture of a unicorn under a rainbow. She had already finished with the red on the rainbow, when she picked up a yellow marker.

“Hang on, you missed a colour,” Sebastian said. He couldn’t help it. He’d always been a stickler for order and rules and a rainbow, even one coloured by a 5-year-old, should be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple. He might be willing to forgo the indigo, but orange was a must.

Kelsey frown at him. “Nu-uh! Mrs. Thompson taught us the colours of the rainbow and there’s no such thing as the colour orange.” Then, she tilted her head to the side. “I KNOW you’re joking, ‘cause orange is a fruit not a colour!” She grinned at him, obviously pleased with herself for having figured out the joke and not fallen for it.

Rather than arguing with her, he started searching for an orange marker. He counted 16 markers of various shades of blue, but not one orange. Not even an orangey yellow or a reddish-orange. Then, he started looking around kitchen for an example to show her.

Granted, he hadn’t played Eye-Spy since he was kid, but how could he not find one single example of the colour orange?

Mystified, he saw Kelsey had gone back to colouring, her rainbow slowing coming to life minus the orange.

* * *

The next day, Sebastian stood in the lunchroom at work waiting for his burrito to cook. It slowly rotated on the plate, the soft humming of the microwave buzzing through the otherwise quiet room. He was lost in thought, still perplexed about the mystery of the missing orange colour when Stacey walked in.

She hesitated at the door when she saw him, and then grudgingly came in. She sat at one of the 3 tables with her back to him and began to slowly peel her fruit.

He couldn’t see it, but it sounded the like the skin being ripped from the flesh of an orange. An orange!

“Are you eating an orange?” he asked, perhaps a bit too excitedly.

She sighed before answering. “Yes.”

“Can I see it?” he asked.

“Excuse me?” she asked, turning her head.

He didn’t wait for her answer. He was already standing beside her.

“Oh,” he said, sounding disappointed. “You’re eating a blood orange.” It was a pale red colour almost pink.

“What are you talking about?” she asked. “It’s just a regular orange.”

“But it’s red,” he said.

She stared at him, glaring. Finally, she said, “All oranges are red.”

“Then what colour is a blood orange, if they’re all red?” he asked, feeling triumphant.

“You are so weird,” she breathed, getting up from her chair. Then, she said, as though talking to a child: “Blood oranges are a deep red. Some might say, the colour of blood. Regular oranges are pale red.”

She grabbed her half-peeled, uneaten orange from the table and stomped out of the lunchroom.

“I’m not crazy,” he muttered, scratching his head. The microwave timer dinged.

* * *

Two weeks later, he still hadn’t seen a single orange item anywhere and he was starting to think maybe he was a little crazy. It was a rainy November day as he sat at the bus stop. Everyone else was hiding under the bus shelter trying to stay dry, but he’d been drenched before he’d even arrived. He’d sat down in a puddle on the bench and didn’t care.

His bus wasn’t due for another 15 minutes so he watched as other people boarded and disembarked from the buses going by. It one of the busier stops in town.

Then, one of the buses caught his eye, or rather an advertisement on the side of it did. On it, there was a photo of a smiling man walking down a path through an orchard. In bright, bold, orange letters were the words “Find What You’re Missing at Ed’s Bed and Breakfast.”

No one else around him seemed to notice the strange occurrence. After two weeks of everyone insisting that there had never been a colour orange, not a single head turned at the sight of this “new” colour.

The doors were closing when he jumped up and ran towards it. The bus driver must have seen him, because the doors flew open again.

“Good afternoon,” the bus driver smiled as Sebastian jumped aboard. The bus driver’s uniform was entirely orange. Before Sebastian had a chance to respond, the doors snapped shut behind him and the bus pulled away from the curb. It was empty save for him and the driver. That’s when he noticed the seats were orange, the poles were orange, and floor was orange.

He gave the bus driver a wary smile and sat down. The driver hummed under his breath as he steered them around the corner.

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