PINK is a story that imagines if all the pink in the world suddenly drained and collected on a remote beach. The materiality of the colour suddenly drawn into one location. Written on a long length of pink scroll, the story very literally unfolds, the scrolled paper rippling at the readers feet. Whether performed or read privately, the act of reading becomes an exaggerated activity.
One morning the world woke and everything was just a little greyer. And no one could figure it out. The day had begun just as all the other days do. The train drivers drove the workers in, the parents brought their children to the schools where the teachers taught them. The politicians discussed the laws and the lawyers implemented them. But something was different. No one talked about it because no one could understand what it was. A feeling of uneasiness hung in the air. Something had gone which no one could describe.
Meanwhile on the islands of Orkney, the very same morning a whale rolled onto the shore. It was big and fleshy and bright. It was round and large and took up most of the beach at Langskaill.
Glenn Miller was the first to spot the wale. He ran to the main village for help. And together the village trouped to the sea carrying ropes, pulleys and buckets of water to help the wale back into the sea.
Although beached wales were a sad event, the villagers harboured a secret joy whenever it happened. Perhaps it was the drama of disaster that excited them. Or just being together, although Langskaill’s populace was small and they lived very close together, often months would go by without any significant interaction between the villagers.
At the head of the beach the villagers collected together to form a plan, propelled by each other’s energy they set to their task.
But they could not get close to the wale. From whatever angle they approached they couldn’t get close. An invisible barrier had formed so that the villagers formed a circle surrounding the wale. Whenever they tried to get closer a strange sensation came over them and they weren’t able to take another step, as though their limbs were no longer under their own control.
Confused, they resolved to try again the next day.
The following morning the villagers journeyed to the beach in trepidation. Lying on the beach as the morning before was the wale, but it had changed slightly. As if its skin had shifted.
Like the morning before, the villagers couldn’t get any closer to the wale. They tried by land and by sea, so a circle of feet and boats surrounded the fleshy mass.
Weeks passed by and the world continued to feel grey and the wale was still beached.
It took a while for journalists to connect the two, but eventually they did, as journalists do. And soon the Orkney isles were filled with vans and reporters. A small collection of islands, there were not enough beds for all these new inhabitants. And soon the fields surrounding the beach filled with tents. As if a sombre festival was being held.
For weeks the journalists and the villagers watched the beached whale. Every day the flesh changed slightly, as though the whale had been rubbed out and re drawn.
After a few months there became a near constant circle vigil around the whale. On the beach people sat on logs and blankets warming themselves with small fires. In the sea people bobbed up and down in small rowing and fishing boats.
There was something about the fleshy mass that drew people in. Sitting in their circle, people felt much calmer, as if the world was not as grey as it seemed. No one was quite sure if they were watching or guarding.
And so the villagers and the journalists kept their watch, feeling comforted against the harshness of the grey world.
The world had been grey for several months. It ticked on as normal, just bleaker than before. People grew uninterested in the beached fleshy whale and the journalists and their stories were soon forgotten. The initial hope it brought quickly smothered by oppressive melancholy.
So the journalists and the villagers were left alone in their watch. They didn’t mind this in the slightest. Happily, they sat and watched the flesh.
And with almost imperceptible motion they moved closer and closer to it. It happened very slowly, the diameter of the circle would shrink a centimetre with each day. As they drew closer and closer the flesh faded. And their own flesh became brighter. Colour drew to their cheeks and a blush grew amongst them. Over the weeks, the closer they got the more the flesh shrunk and the more their cheeks flushed. And the people on land drew closer to those at sea and their blush grew larger. Eventually the flesh became nothing. And all that was left were the villagers and the journalists standing together with a burning rosy blush across their cheeks.
And with that the pink returned to the world and it was grey no more.