Jessie's hands were blue. She pulled the sleeves of her jumper over her palms to hide the paint.
"Hiya," Kye said, tossing her backpack into the seat between them. Jessie twitched her mouth into a greeting smile, but didn't say anything. She still wasn't sure if Kye's hellos were meant for her or just... for the classroom in general. There were plenty of other students more talkative and interesting than Jessie.
Jessie sat and listened to the lecture, taking notes only occassionally. She tried not to reveal the blue paint splatters on her hands. When the lesson ended, she trudged back to her flat.
The blue started with her bedroom wall, a makeover. She'd painted over the cream, replacing it with a deep, drowning blue. But after a week, she realized it wasn't enough. The ceiling was too white, too bright.
Jessie painted that blue next.
Jessie looked up at Kye as she slid into the seat two down from her. They looked at each other. Jessie's palms began to sweat.
"Hi," Jessie replied softly, tucking her hands under her thighs.
Kye smiled, a wide, serene thing. It offset the rest of her: the sharpness of her jaw and the blunt, chin-length cut of her hair.
Jessie tried to pay attention during class, but the professor droned on and on. By the end, her notebook was empty. She returned home, quietly contemplating the sky full of clouds as they drifted past.
Jessie decided to paint the dining room not long after her bedroom was finished. She never used it anyway; she preferred to eat on the edge of her bed, music on, staring at the walls.
She bought a roller this time, but she still got paint on her hands. She bumped into the wall at some point, so her elbow was stained blue too.
She put her jumper on before she went to class, even though it was warm outside.
"Hiya." Thump. Kye's backpack on the seat next to her. Thump. Kye on the seat next to that.
Jessie pushed up her glasses. "Hiya." She smiled a little.
Kye watched her for a moment, and Jessie blinked and lowered her hand. "You've got blue on your hand," Kye told her.
Jessie didn't know why, but she laughed. "It's an art project."
At the end of class, Jessie put her empty notebook in her backpack.
"See you next week," Kye said as she left.
It was the kitchen next. Jessie stayed up all night painting it. It was the exact same shade as the other rooms: dark, dismal blue. The kind of blue that you could fall into and never come out of. Like the ocean.
"Hiya." Thump. Thump. Kye bit the end of her pen cap as she looked over at Jessie.
"Hey." Jessie had her hands shoved under her armpits. They were still stained with paint.
"You have paint on you. Still working on that art project?" Kye pointed at the hem of Jessie's jumper. It was smeared with blue. Jessie noticed it was on her shoes too, and slunk further under her desk.
"Yeah. Yeah, I am." The lecture started then, but when it finished, Jessie said, "Bye."
And Kye said, "See ya."
The kitchen wasn't enough. There were still too many other colors, so Jessie put away her dishes, her photos, her chairs. And her bathroom was blindingly white, so she got to work. She smudged a hand against her cheek and stained it on accident, and dripped more paint on her shoes.
At this point, she didn't think it mattered. But she still put on her jumper before class.
Jessie started when Kye sat down in the seat next to her. Not two down. Directly next to her. Jessie had planned to say 'hi' today, but she lost the word.
"I'm just studying," Jessie said, looking down at the empty page in her notebook.
Kye gave her a half smile and gestured toward Jessie. "More paint? It's on your cheek, you know." Jessie noted that Kye's eyes were a light brown, and, in the light, looked like topaz.
Jessie touched her cheek. "It's just paint."
At the end of class, Kye waited for Jessie to pack her backpack, and they walked out together. When they reached the street outside, Kye smiled and said goodbye. Jessie thought about her as she walked home.
The entire flat was blue now. Everything.
Jessie washed her painting shirt with her favorite jumper, and now even that was sea-blue. Sometimes she put it on and sat down against a wall and just let herself blend right in.
"Hiya." Kye sat next to her every class now. Usually, she didn't say anything about the blue paint on Jessie's clothes or in her hair or under her nails. But they always walked out together, and sometimes Kye walked Jessie all the way back to her flat.
They talked about little things some days. And other days they would walk in silence and watch the clouds together.
"How about I help you paint your flat?" Thump. Kye put her backpack on the seat two away from Jessie. Thump. Kye sat down next to her.
"Why would I paint my flat?" scoffed Jessie, rubbing an ink stain on her notebook. The corners of the pages curled as they soaked in the blue ink.
"I just thought I could help. With the painting," Kye said. She poked the shoulder of Jessie's navy blue jumper.
Jessie shrugged. "I don't need any help." Kye didn't say anything, because the professor had started talking. Jessie didn't take any notes that day, because her pen was out of ink.
When they stood to leave, Kye packed her backpack slowly. Jessie fidgeted with the hem of her jumper.
"How about today?" Jessie asked when Kye slung her back over her shoulder.
Kye smiled, her wide, flat, happy smile that made her eyes squint. "What color?"
Jessie matched Kye's stride as they left the classroom. "Anything. Anything but blue."