Yellow #5

Held aloft, the needle glistened; its slim metallic form beautiful as it caught and reflected the rays of light. Dr. Richards turned it slowly in his fingers, before drawing his fingertip along the slightly curved, three inch long sliver of metal. It was perfect, and the needle had never failed him before, yet he checked it each time. There was no margin for error.

“What color would you like?” he inquired, without turning his gaze towards the latest patient.

There was a moment of quiet, before the patient replied “Yellow #5, please.”

 Her voice was soft and warm, well suited to the color she had selected. He could imagine it now, and though he had never met her before today, he expected that Yellow #5 would look good on her.

“Are you certain?” he inquired “There are no second chances, as you’re well aware.”

She paused again, then replied once more. “Yes, Yellow #5.”

That was answer sufficient for the doctor, and he made his way to the thread stand nearby, reaching up and tapping the top left corner of the thread stand with his fingertip, causing all the tiny spindles to rattle slightly. Some of the colors were so close together that it would take an expert to tell them apart, and range the entire color spectrum. After only a moment’s hesitation, Dr. Richards drew his hand over; 5 spindles to the left, and 6 down. Yellow #5. He plucked the spindle away, tossing it into the air and catching it a moment later. Approaching the patient, he held out the thread towards her.

“This one?”

“Yep… that’s the one. It’s my favorite color.”

“It’s a very nice color. What’s your name young lady? I know I was told before, but I can’t seem to recall at the moment.” He knew her name well enough already, he had a knack for remember names, but he wanted to hear her say it, hear her own identity formed on her lips, before he proceeded.


“Ahh, yes. A very pretty name, and a very pretty color. Now listen carefully Angelina; in a moment I’ll begin but first I want you to say your name a few more times. Listen to it. Make sure it sounds like Yellow #5.”

“Angelina, Angelina, Angelina” she repeated slowly, thoughtfully. It sounded to Dr. Richards exactly like Yellow #5, which meant the girl had done a good job selecting her color.

“Very good… now if you’ll just lean back, we’ll begin.”

The young woman did as she was told, leaning back in the chair, letting her head rest on the back of the chair. The doctor leaned close, holding the needle in her his hand, a slight smile on his aged lips as he directed her.

“Very good. Now smile a nice smile. Yellow #5 goes poorly with frowns.”

It was a pleasant thought, and after a soft nod, the girl smiled warmly her lips pursed together. Lifting his free hand, Dr. Richards touched the side of her face gently, feeling out the contours of her jaw and lips, while the needle and thread stood ready in his other hand. She was smiling, but it wouldn’t last, and so it was important to remember it as accurately as possible.

Pulling his hand away, he took the needle and thread in opposite hands, threading it with a precision and speed that would have made any seamstress proud.

And then, without further warning, he brought the needle down in a smooth arc, the silvery metal entering just above her top lip, and reemerging dressed in crimson just below the bottom. By the time the gasp had escaped her lips, he had brought the arc back up, catching her flesh once more and driving the needle back thru the captive flesh. He managed to get another stitch in before he could feel her preparing to scream, feel her mouth start to move. Dropping the spindle into her lap, he caught her jaw and face with his hand, forcing her mouth to stay shut as he brought the needle thru her flesh over and over. She cried in pain, tears running down her face and mingling with the driblets of blood running from her the needle holes lining her lips, but in just a few moments the deed was done. Her mouth forever bound by Yellow #5.

Releasing his jaw and drawing the needle back, Dr. Richards smiled down at her. “Very good Angelina. You did very good.”

He could hear her whimpering still, but as he let fingers trail along her stitched lips, he could tell that he had captured the essence of the smile. The smile wasn’t perfect, only the needle was perfect, but it was close enough. Placing the needle away, he brought a damp cloth to her mouth, wiping away blood and tears as best he could. For a moment, he paused, holding her hand and waiting for her to calm down, but then she was whisked away. There would be friends and family waiting, to congratulate her on this special day, on this day of sacrifice, but he had others to attend to. Two more mouths, a nose, two sets of ears, which were always tricky, and one like himself, one who would sacrifice their vision.

He hoped that the girl, Angelina, would remember the sound of her own voice. Some day, she would forget it, forget its soft, warm sound. But at least, she would still have Yellow #5.


2 Responses to “Yellow #5”

  1. […] Yellow #5 (Fiction, Rough Draft) I have a new short story, once again too long to throw on the main page. You can read it, here. […]

  2. what a very strange story. It is very engaging and “strings” the reader along. Being that i know your style, i knew that something was going to get sewed shut, but i like the addage that other people are getting other things sewed shut, and that he himself is blind. It leaves me wanting to know more about what this is all about. good job.

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