Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase).( 01/31/08)
Perkin Loses His Purple
By Jan Ackerson
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The door opened with a squeak, and the top of Pansy’s head appeared, followed by her violet eyes and the tip of her turned-up nose. She stepped out and closed the door quickly behind her, brushing flour from her ruffled pinafore.
“Perkin!” she whispered. “What are you doing here?” A butterfly lit on her shoulder, sending up brightly colored sparks before flittering away.
Perkin produced the bouquet with a flourish. He doffed his cap and bowed low. “Miss Pansy Pearlheart, I’ve come to ask you—“
“Shh!” Pansy touched a finger to Perkin’s lips. Glancing behind her, she led Perkin into the shadow of a large tree. Its bright blue leaves had been whispering, but they hushed when Pansy started to talk. “Papa says you’re not to come here any more. He says I can’t be seen with you, now that you’re…” She hesitated, and a tear welled in the corner of her left eye. The flowers that dotted the lawn drooped, with a sad little hum. “…now that you’re <i>Green</i>.”
Perkin dropped the starpoppies, which scampered away, softly chattering. “What do you mean, I’m Green?” He held out his hands and waggled all eight fingers. “See? I’m just as Purple as you are!”
Pansy blushed, and her lavender cheeks became a pretty dusky rose. “Papa says you’ve been cavorting with G-green folk, so I guess that makes you G-green.”
“But Pansy! I’m <i>not</i> Green! Look!” He pushed up the sleeves of his tunic, then thrust out one knobby, plum-colored knee. “See, Purple!”
With a look of hope, Pansy stooped to pick up one straggling starpoppy and tuck it behind her ear. It wiggled into place and chirped contentedly. “So you haven’t been—you-know-what?”
A fluffy white kitten walked between them on two legs and stopped to listen, munching on a cricket.
Perkin paused, remembering…
<i>He’d been walking to the market when they called out to him, three grass-green lads casually leaning against a wall. “Hey, you! Lilac-liver! C’mere, we wanna show ya somethin’!”
Perkin tried to look brave. He sauntered toward the trio, stumbling once on a stone in the road. The stone grunted and shuffled out of his way.
The tallest lad draped an arm over Perkin’s shoulder and drew him in, showing him things he’d never seen…
He came back often to enjoy the unfamiliar Green wonders. Eventually, the lads taught him the Green Song, and he would join in nightly, brandishing a tankard of viridian ale:
What a wonderful color is Green!
All the others are simply obscene.
Red, yellow, and blue
Are like buckets of poo,
And there’s nothing that rhymes with Purple!
Green food is the best you can find,
But those Purples eat horses’ behinds!
They eat garbage and trash
That will give you a rash—
Like liver and peach pits and rinds!
Green music will give you a thrill,
And Purple songs just make you ill--
When they sing, kittens die
And Green babies all cry
‘Cause it’s vile, disgusting, and shrill!
Green houses are fancy and nice,
Filled with every convenient device;
But those Purples are poor.
I am perfectly sure
That their hovels are crawling with mice!
Green girls are the prettiest, too—
And they know what to do with shampoo.
Not like those Purple hags
Who are greasy old bags,
And their skin is a hideous hue!
The song went on for several more verses, and Perkin sang them all with gusto, paying scant attention to the image of Pansy Pearlheart’s smiling lavender face, rapidly fading from memory…</i>
Perkin gazed at his toes. “Maybe I’ve made a few Green friends—but I’m still Purple, I promise!”
Pansy’s eyes filled again, and this time two sparkling tears landed upon the grass. She touched Perkin’s cheek with one soft hand. “Purple isn’t <i>here</i>, Perkin. It’s in your heart. Come back when your heart is Purple again.”
She turned and walked back to her cottage, petticoats a-swish.
A pair of tiny white flowers sprang up in the grass, their petals embracing two glistening tears.
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