• There is silence around me. Its silky softness caresses my ears, the faint ringing within them sounding like a moan of pleasure. I always relish the few moments of precious silence that each day brings, in the seconds before I walk through the door to my usual bar. Pausing just a moment longer outside of my destination, I look upwards. The light of the full moon cleaves through the inky night sky. White upon black. Shades, as I am. ...But enough of this self-reflection. With an almost inaudible sigh, I push open the door. A blast of warm air ruffles my hair, the black streaks infused into my largely snow-white locks gleaming in the faint light. As my black stiletto heel takes the first step into the bar, the silence of my world is shattered.

    Irish fiddles are blasting out from the speakers. I roll my black eyes at the music, a scowl creasing my pale brow. Walking towards my usual table in the corner, I glance around, my steps unhurried. I see Red sitting at the bar, nursing a drink of some sort in his hand. His spiky ruby-coloured hair hangs over his blood red eyes, his head bowed from what is undoubtedly the crushing weight of sadness. Looking towards the other side of the room, I quickly see the cause of Red's misery. Purple is here, leading her new boyfriend, Blue, upstairs by the hand, a mischievous smile upon her face and her amethyst curls bouncing with each step. Purple and Red used to be together, you see, but Purple could only calm Red's foul temper with trips to the bedroom for so long. Eventually, he couldn't help but take his anger out on her. She left him, finding Blue not long after. Blue is good for Purple. His relaxed, peaceful disposition balances out her wild passion. I shoot another glance at Red, a twinge of pity thrumming at my heart. If I were the embodiment of love and hate combined, I'd be sucking back vodka too.

    A loud crash drags me from my reverie. Turning my head towards the source of the noise, I raise an impassive eyebrow at the scene before me. Orange is splayed out on the floor, the remnants of a table scattered around him. Despite possible injury, he is laughing his head off, cheering and whooping at his "sick" fall. Green, the bartender, is looking down at him with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face. Apparently, replacing the table will kill some tree in some forest in some part of the world. When will Green learn that Orange doesn't care about saving trees or whales or anything else nature-related? All Orange cares about is having a good time. That guy thrives off of adrenaline like a plant thrives off of sunlight.

    Great. There I go with the nature references. Thanks a lot, Green.

    "Isn't it wonderful that Purple and Blue have gotten together?"

    That chirping, far-too-optimistic voice belongs to none other than Yellow, who seats herself at my table with a smile upon her face.

    "I guess," I reply, augmenting my non-committal response with a shrug. After a moment's pause, I feel Yellow's joyful aura trying to break through my layers of apathy. That stupid smile, inviting me to open up. What if I don't want to open up? Did you ever consider that, smile? With a sigh, I reluctantly add my opinion to the mix. "I kind of feel sorry for Red, though."

    Yellow's topaz eyes widen in shock. "Red?" she queries, glancing over at the person in question. "Why Red?"

    "Well, it's not really his fault," I supply, knowing full well that I sound as if speaking each word is making my teeth hurt. "He and Purple were simply incompatible. He didn't ask to be love and hate, just like Blue didn't ask to be peace, Purple didn't ask to be passion, Orange didn't ask to be fun, Green didn't ask to be all nature-obsessed, and you didn't ask to be joy."

    Yellow bites her lip, a sure sign that some deep question is going to come spouting out of her mouth. "And what about you?" she softly asks.

    I avert my eyes from Yellow, sliding off my jacket to reveal my black cocktail dress. "I'm not much of anything," I slowly reply. "I'm just here to observe. The narrator of your story, if you will."

    "Surely you must feel something."

    The speaker this time is Red, who plunks himself down at my table, not unsteady in the slightest despite having guzzled down half a bottle of vodka.

    For crying out loud. Why is everyone coming over here? What is this, some sort of group therapy session? Fixing Red with a look, my insides swirl like a giant black hole. Lifeless. Empty. "I feel nothing," I tonelessly reply.

    "That isn't true." A fire has ignited behind Red's eyes, and he stares at me, unblinking. It takes all of my resolve not to look away from his heated gaze. "I saw you roll your eyes at Green's music selection. And you opened up to Yellow. Surely you must feel as if you can talk to her."

    "Annoyance, sociability, what are they?" I retaliate, my voice gaining volume in spite of myself. "They are momentary, brief. I've never really felt any deep emotion, any emotion that matters. And I never will. I am black and white. Two carefully balanced halves of the same whole. I do not, cannot, and will not feel anything."

    Red is suddenly leaning forward across the table, coming closer and closer towards me until I can practically count his eyelashes. "Oh yeah?" he asks, his voice a dangerous growl.

    Then his lips are on mine.

    I really should have expected this. It's Red, after all. Love and hate. Of course his method of trying to make me feel would be romantically inclined. This has gone on long enough. ...But now he is threading his fingers through my hair, pulling me closer. Do I mind?

    I don't know.

    "Okay, okay, stop," I command, placing my hands upon Red's chest and pushing slightly. He breaks away from the kiss, his lips drawing up in a smirk. I stare him down, fighting for control over my faintly fluttering heart. I have to end this. Now.

    "So? How was that?" Red asks, sounding slightly out of breath.

    "That was a very predictable move on your part," I reply. My voice, thankfully, contains all of the enthusiasm of a stock broker.

    "That isn't what I asked," Red counters, not missing a beat. "How do you feel about the fact that you and I just kissed? Do you think that it felt gross, pleasant, or maybe... extraordinary? Speaking for myself, it was nothing like kissing Purple. It actually felt better, for some reason." His smirk widens. "Perhaps this is fate trying to tell us something?"

    I sigh, my shoulders slumping slightly. 'Hopeless romantic' should seriously be this guy's bumper sticker. "I admit that we may look compatible on paper," I concede. "You feel so much while I feel so little. But it just won't work. I physically cannot love." I vaguely wonder where Yellow, Orange and Green have gone. It feels as though Red is the only one in the room.

    I am so preoccupied with seeing Red that I do not notice Orange's flailing limbs as he falls off of yet another table. Nor do I notice the beer bottle that he kicks in the process, or hear Yellow's shriek as the projectile collides with the side of my head. All that registers is Red's face looking suddenly panicked. Then I am falling off of my chair, shards of glass embedding themselves in my skin as I crash onto the floor.

    Dazed and disoriented, my world is perceived in tiny fragments. I am aware of Yellow stroking my arm, telling me that Green is calling an ambulance and that everything is going to be alright. I am aware of Red bellowing at Orange, who, stricken, is apologizing profusely. Sluggishly, I raise a hand to my head to see what all of the fuss is about. Blinding pain slices through my skull, out of which protrudes a large piece of glass. My hand flinches away, for I have sliced a couple of my fingers during my inspection. I let my arm fall back to my side, disliking the feel of the hot, sticky blood as it gushes out. My blood.

    The silence that I so ardently adore falls over me like a blanket, the colours of my world slowly fading to black as my eyes close.

    I awake to find myself transformed into the cliché accident victim; bandaged, stiff, and unsure as to exactly where I am.

    Luckily, Red is here with me. The minute my eyes flutter open, he is up out of his chair, peering anxiously down at me. "Are you alright?" he asks, his words tumbling out in a rush. "You're in the hospital. A piece of glass had skewered your skull."

    A smile tugs at my lips, a strange softness warming my insides. "Scared you, didn't I?" I croak.

    Red's face is solemn now. He looks like he hasn't slept for days. "Heck yes," he growls.

    I, on the other hand, still feel a strange buoyancy within myself, and the smile upon my face widens. "No need to censor your language," I tease.

    "You just woke up," Red retorts, the ghost of a smile tugging at his lips. "Being greeted by the embodiment of love and hate using every four-letter word in the dictionary wouldn't be much of a greeting. ...Good thing that phase was yesterday."

    Red's last comment produces a laugh from me. I look down at myself, shocked at the seemingly small action. Why did I just laugh? And what's with this feeling of levity? Closing my eyes, I try and sort out my memories from the night of the accident. I remember blood, broken glass, and shouting, but... Oh my God...

    Slowly re-opening my eyes, I stare up at Red. "I can feel," I whisper, completely dumbfounded.

    "You can what?" Red asks, puzzlement written all over his face.

    "I thought I was going to die," I softly explain, my mind racing to confirm my hypothesis. "Because of this, my mind lifted some sort of barrier around my emotions, around my heart." To add to the incredulity of the moment, I feel tears trickling out of the corners of my eyes, sliding down my temples in a way that makes them itch. "I guess near-death experiences do have their perks."

    Red is still for a moment, his eyes staring into mine. Then he gently cups my face with his hands. Knowing what is coming next, I close my eyes, my heart hammering in my chest. And the feeling of our lips meeting, of my blood racing, of just giving myself over to raw emotion... I would not trade this moment for anything. Finally, I can let myself step out of the shadows, into the light that is just as much a part of me as the darkness is. And Red will be there with me.