September 29, 2021

Purple

by Francine Witte

One day, Elm Street turns purple. Amethyst, lilac, and mauve. Everything, everywhere licked with it.

Mr. Jones, from what used to be the yellow house, steps out on his mulberry lawn. This is the work of hoodlums, he says. He drives away to find the police, his car leaving deep orchid fumes.

The rest of the neighbors, now in the street, are talking theories. A lot of blabbity blab about politics and orientations and what is the world coming to. But soon the theories give way to wonder. A circle of purple mouths saying that they’ve never seen a violet tree.

And then, Mrs. Smith, calling out from her eggplant porch, how this is a miracle. How now, all of her purses match.

Everyone is happy and lavender until Mr. Jones returns, a line of police cars behind him. They screech to a stop, get out and start spraying it all. The people, the lampposts, the trees. Little by little, the purple drains out of everything.

Later, back on his front lawn, Mr. Jones sits in his wicker rocking chair. He is squarely under his favorite wide maple, returned now to its normal green. He rocks back and forth. Gently, he nods into an afternoon sleep. A plum-colored leaf falls from the top of the tree.

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