There once was a young girl. Her dearest desire in the whole world was to become an artist. She loved color. In fact, her last name- Chroma- meant color. This little girl’s name was Azura. Perhaps her parents had an inkling what their daughter would be; her name meant ‘sky-blue’. And true to her name, she loved blue. But she loved reds, and yellows, and greens. Grays, oranges, and purples too.
She’d sit at the little desk her parents had gotten for her, her colors seemingly coming to life in front of her.
“What are you making, baby girl?” her mother would ask.
“Not sure, Mama. Won’t know until it’s finished,” she’d always answer, grinning.
The young woman looked at the computer screen at what she’d written and she sighed, a single tear escaping down her cheek. Writing this all down was going to be a lot harder than she ever supposed. It was important that she document this journey, but it was taking her back to that time. She’d stopped typing and she sat there, her chin in her hands as she let the memories come…
Azura’s mother Kaelyn had met her father Jayden in University. According to Kaelyn, it had been love at first sight. They hadn’t even waited to graduate before the two were married. Jayden got a job in Oasis Springs working for a large corporation. Kaelyn had opted to stay home. The thought of keeping a house appealed to her especially since she loved to garden.
Azura had loved to watch her mother while she cultivated her plants, singing softly under her breath, often singing directly to her little beauties. She had told Azura that plants could see and feel; they grew better if they knew the one taking care of them cared.
To Azura, her mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. The two shared a special relationship. Kaelyn would work with her daughter on her homework every day after school.
Then they’d have mother-daughter time. Sometimes, they’d go swimming or just sit on the side of the pool, dragging their ankles through the water while Kaelyn listened to Azura describe the world around her in vivid colors.
Other days, the two could be found playing make-believe with the giant dollhouse her father had bought for Azura when she was only just born.
Then it would be time for her dad to get home. Azura had loved watching her mother meet him at the door. She thought their relationship was beautiful to behold. They seemed to always have a soft orange-red glow around them. She came to associate that with love, a warm love. Though there was a deep red in there as well. She didn’t quite understand what that meant then.
While her mother prepared dinner, it was father-daughter time. They’d sit on the couch, watch a little TV while Azura told Jayden about her day. She loved cuddling close with him. She associated a calming blue-green with her father. When he held her, she imagined herself in a protective cocoon.
Their family was a happy one. Full of love, full of promise.
It all changed in an instant. It started as a beautiful weekend day. Kaelyn had taken Azura to the park in town so she could scamper around on the play-ground. There might even have been a dreaded space-monster roaming around.
They returned home to a nightmare. There had been an accident. Jayden had taken a swim as was his habit. But he must have slipped and fallen back into the water. By the time a neighbor was able to call anyone, it was too late. Jayden was gone. Azura and Kaelyn were devastated.
They had each other, but there was something missing in both their lives.
Azura spent many days after school, crying silently.
Kaelyn tried to remain strong. She took a job outside the home. She tried to keep things as normal as she could for Azura, but the little girl could hear her mother sobbing through the bedroom door as she worked on her homework.
One night, a few trying months after Jayden had been taken from them. Kaelyn had to take one of her hard earned sick days; she had finally gotten back to taking care of her garden and Azura joined her.
“Sweetie? I-I know things have been tough. Very tough. L-losing your dad has been hard- on both of us. I-I have something to tell you.”
Azura looked up at her mother. She hadn’t smiled very much since she’d lost her father. “W-what is it, Mama?”
“Y-you’re going to be a big sister. I’m pregnant sweetie. I-it was the last gift your daddy gave me.”
“A-a baby? You have a baby in your tummy?”
Kaelyn nodded solemnly. Azura stepped close. “C-can I touch it? T-talk to them?” She was old enough- she was 12, would be turning 13 soon enough- to understand where babies come from, though this is the first time she would have been exposed to it.
Her mother gave the little girl a watery grin. “Of course, baby girl.”
She approached slowly and gently put her hands on her mother’s already swelling belly. “Hello,” she murmured. “I-I’m your big sister. I’m Azura.”
Things seemed to be looking up for them. A friend that Kaelyn had grown up with came to live with them to help Kaelyn while she was pregnant. Chelsea Britton was an effervescent soul and she infused some much needed cheer into a house that had lost a vital piece.
Azura liked Chelsea quite a bit. She was a myriad of colors from a deep, vibrant red to a bright fluorescent pink. She always had some fun stories that she’d share with Azura over dinner while Kaelyn was at work.
She was quite far along and Chelsea had been trying to get her to take her leave from work. But the bills had been slowly piling up. It was stressful on her body. That and grief were taking its toll. Only another week. Then she could take her time off.
But she never got there. She had been outside, thinking of doing some gardening. As she’d stood up from the bench, a terrible pain in her abdomen made her cry out.
She staggered, disoriented and in pain. Azura hadn’t come home from school yet and Chelsea had gone out for a bit. She was alone. She took a couple lurching steps before she pitched forward.
Chelsea came home from her errands and Kaelyn was rushed to the hospital. But… nothing could be done. Azura’s world was fractured into a million pieces. Her mother- and a sister that she would meet- were laid to rest next to her father.
Azura, already beginning to bloom into a young woman, stood at their gravesides one last time. “Mama, Papa,” she whispered tremulously. “I-I’m leaving. I-I’ll be back, though, someday.”
“I-I’m going to live with Chelsea, Mama. L-like you would want.” Her lower lip quivered as she looked at their graves. “I-I don’t see the colors anymore. I-I have to find them again. U-until I do…” She had to swallow, unable to speak past the lump in her throat.
“I love you Mama and Papa.” Azura turned and walked away.
The years passed and Azura grew into a beautiful woman. She missed her parents. And she never found her colors. What she did find, was an old manuscript in a run-down house in Bridgeport. It was a curious document, but it pulled at Azura. The writer in her- the one art that she could still find semblance of peace with, even if it wasn’t the same as the painting she had found so freeing as a child- was fascinated with the complex prose and what she thought of as a secret code in the writing.
It became an obsession. After many, many hours of pouring over the document, Azura thought she had stumbled upon the secret. The secret to returning her colors to her… and maybe a way that she could see her parents again. And so, with what little money she had in the small trust that had been set up when she was born, Azura left the big city. If the manuscript was right, she couldn’t do this on her own. She needed help. So she returned to Oasis Springs. But it had changed quite a bit since she was a young girl. She went to a family friend.
Nancy and Geoffrey Landgraab had been friendly with her mother and father, her father especially. They remembered the bright little girl. So it was that Azura was greeted by Nancy.
“It’s so good to see you! You’ve grown into such a beautiful girl!” They insisted that she stay with them, seeing as how she had yet to find a place of her own, intending to stay in a hotel until she found something. She slept on their couch for the first few nights.
Almost a week after returning to Oasis Springs, she brought up her proposition to Nancy. The older woman listened to her with an ear for business.
But in the end, Nancy and Geoffrey couldn’t be persuaded to become investors in Azura’s project. “Not because we don’t believe in you, dear, but because we have our own life, here. Our son is in a delicate spot right now. But… not all hope is lost. I seem to remember you being very close to the Bachelor girl right?”
“Bella? Yes, we were when we were kids.”
“She married Mortimer Goth. They live in Willow Creek now. She has two children, I believe. Why don’t you ask her? I hear that they often take on interesting business investments. I think this would be something that is right up their alley.”
And so it was that Azura found herself outside of a large gothic manor. She couldn’t help but smile. Bella had always loved that style of architecture. It had always been a little gloomy for Azura’s tastes. But it somehow suited her childhood friend. Bella greeted her and led her into what must have been a formal palor. There, the two old friends chatted for hours, each catching up with their lives.
“I was sorry to hear about your parents,” Bella said softly. “W-we never really got to say good bye to each other all those years ago.”
“Thank you,” Azura murmured. “And no… we didn’t, did we?”
“No, I’m afraid we didn’t.” Bella reached over and took her hand. “What is it, ‘Zura? There’s something on your mind.”
Instead of the calm business pitch that Azura had prepared, she began to cry softly. Amidst the tears, she told Bella why she had come. It took quite a while to get it all out, but when her tears had dried up and she had given it all she had, Bella was silent for a long moment. Swallowing, knowing that it was no use, Azura stood up.
Before she knew what was going on, Bella had stood as well and grabbed her in a warm embrace. “We’ll do it,” she murmured. “We’ll do it.”
It wasn’t quite as simple as all that. Bella did discuss it with her husband and two kids and introduced them to Azura. The family agreed, in the long run. It was decided that if this venture was going to work, they were going to need a fairly large property. So with money given to her by the Goths, Azura find what she thought of as a suitable property.
Bella looked around. “This is it, hm?”
Azura nodded. “Yes, this is it.” She gave her old friend a small grin. “I know it isn’t much now. But it will be.”
Bella looked around once more. “It’ll be the start,” she murmured.
“A start to bring the colors back,” she whispered softly to herself. Her world was many shades of grey right now… but maybe, just maybe, with the help of her friend Bella and her family, she could bring the colors back, not just to her world, but to everyone… She just hoped she was strong enough to do it.