This is a work of fiction.
The next screen asks for eye and hair color.
“Blue eyes and blond hair.”
If I imagine marrying somebody, it’s a man with blue eyes and blond hair.
Blue taps the relevant buttons.
A large green START button appears at the bottom of the screen.
Interesting. I’m about to find out what kind of game this is.
“Can I press it?”
“Yes,” Red says.
I touch the button.
The screen changes.
A progress bar at the bottom moves very slowly, if at all.
Yellow says, “It will take a while to finish. Do you want something to eat?”
Red takes the phone and puts it into her pocket.
Blue says, “Mom and Dad are coming. Let’s go downstairs.”
“I can go home,” I say.
Purple gives me a dark look.
Red says, “It’s not about you. Come downstairs with us.”
As I follow them through the kitchen and to a door, I wonder how they know their parents are coming home. I can’t hear a car or anybody coming, but maybe they have better hearing than I do.
At the bottom of the stairs is a door. Blue opens it, and I see a kitchen.
“What do you like?” Red asks. “Milk? Juice? Water? We don’t have coffee, but we do have herbal tea.”
“Water is fine, thank you.”
Yellow says, “You don’t have to do all that ‘fine, thank you’ crap here. In fact, we hate it. If you want something, just say it.”
“Okay,” Red says. She opens the fridge, takes out a bottle of water, and hands it to me.
Before I can thank her, Yellow says, “We’re making pizza. Do you want any? If not, you can make something else.”
She gestures at the kitchen.
“Pizza is good. What do you put on it?”
In spite of their strange rules and lack of social grace, I’m starting to like them.
“Whatever there is,” Blue says. “We’ll put out bowls of stuff and you can take whatever you want.”
“You can sit over there and watch,” Red says.
I go to the table and sit down.
The four of them start opening cupboards and getting out ingredients.
As they work, nobody speaks. I notice that they communicate non-verbally, in a language I can’t decipher. I sit there, feeling apart and alone.
Dough is formed and kneaded under skillful hands, and then covered with towels and left, while yet more dough is made.
After an hour, Red covers her dough and looks at me.
“I wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk while you were working.”
“We don’t mind,” Blue says.
“How much pizza are you making?”
“Another hour’s worth,” Red says.
“Can I ask you something?”
“You just did,” Blue says. “So why are you asking if you can ask?”
“Because it’s more personal than how much pizza you’re making.”
“If we don’t like it, we won’t answer it,” Red says.
“How come you said you haven’t talked to outsiders since you were little?”
“Because we haven’t,” Yellow says.
“I mean, how come you haven’t talked to outsiders since you were little?”
Red says, “Because they hated us.”
“Who hated you and why?”
“Other kids’ parents,” Blue says. “They didn’t like smart people.”
Red says, “Some of the other kids were being mean to us, but their parents all said it was our fault. Some of the teachers agreed. I overheard one say we had attachment disorder. We don’t. We can form relationships, but not too many others can form relationships with us. Our parents got us out of there.”
“How old were you?”
“Four,” Yellow says. “We already knew more than the school could teach us, but we wanted to play with the other kids.”
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Why?” Yellow says. “You didn’t do anything.”
“It’s one of those things people say.”
“Oh, that crap again,” Yellow says.