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jeremy thought his best friend’s voice was his favorite color by far.

it was this bright orangey red when he was excited, tinted with grey when he was sad or anxious, which wasn’t his favorite color, but pretty much no matter his mood, he really loved hearing his best friend talk. he got smudges of orange clouds across his vision if michael got passionate about the tangled lore of the legend of zelda franchise, which he could— and had several times in the past— go on for hours about.

michael’s laugh sent bright yellow patches of color across the room. jeremy loved making him laugh.

everything about his friend was warm and fuzzy and bright— and it went with the red theme he had going on with his clothes, even though jeremy knew his favorite color was orange.

he remembered once, when he was very little, around ten, asking michael why he was orangey red when his moms were blue and greenish. michael had just laughed like it was a joke, though jeremy hadn’t understood that nobody else saw sounds like he did, so he kept asking color related questions throughout the day. once michael got tired of it, he snapped at jeremy— even though he didn’t mean to— and jeremy didn’t say anything else about the colors until much, much later.

he started talking about them again after the squip.

the squip had told him what seeing colors meant— synesthesia, it told him, projective chromesthesia to be exact. he finally had a name for it, which was odd because he couldn’t believe he’d never googled why he saw bright red jagged clouds of color when he heard a door slam.

(jeremy heard lots of jagged red when his mother still lived with them.

jeremy’s mother left shortly after he came out, which he tried his hardest not to connect that way because his dad always said it wasn’t his fault (but who could stop him from thinking her daughter not really being her daughter was the final straw?). her voice was a harsh pink, sort of the color equivalent of scratchy nails against a chalkboard. he didn’t like her voice. he didn’t like her nails, either, always too sharp and too neon. like her voice.

she was sharp and pointy, just like her nails and her voice. she was rude and grabbed and pulled him around a lot, so unlike his dad’s gentle, almost hesitant touches.

jeremy was kind of glad she left, but he didn’t like the mess she left him and his dad in.

his dad’s voice was grey for a while, instead of the usual bright, optimistic purple.)

the squip told jeremy not to talk about it since a very small part of the population had it, so he’d be seen as weird or crazy if he talked about the colors of sounds.

it repressed his stimming, too, but that’s for another day.

after the play, after it left his head, it was insanely difficult for jeremy to feel comfortable in his own skin. he couldn’t stim, couldn’t stutter, couldn’t slouch, couldn’t do a lot of the things it “corrected” without being reminded of it or feeling a phantom shock.

one of the signs jeremy was getting better was when he started talking about colors.

it was subtle at first, an occasional “that looks really pretty” referring to a song on the radio and the others brushing it off as a joke, but then jeremy spent all day in his room messing with crayola crayons to get the exact shade of his friend’s voices down so he could give it to them the next day.

michael’s voice took the longest, since he wanted to get it perfect, down to the bright yellow specks when he laughed.

rich’s voice was similar to michael’s, but redder and less smudgy. it was a little more angry, a little more guarded, and he tried his best to convey that through color. maybe it was a softer red if you got closer to him.

jake’s voice was a forest green color, with a bit of blue smudged in. he really liked jake’s voice, even if it sounded lonely like rich’s. the blue smudges usually happened when he started getting louder, but seemed to be covering some other emotion up.

christine’s voice was white. he had to find the black construction paper to do her voice. he didn’t know why such a colorful girl had a white voice, but it somehow fit her. it was radiant, and came out in puffy little clouds when she laughed, and that was most of the reason he had developed a crush on her.

brooke’s voice was a pale pink, much more pleasant and soft than his mother’s voice. she didn’t remind him of her at all, other than the slight similarity in color. her pink was always hopefully tinged with bits of golden yellow, sort of like a silver lining— also an analogy on hope. he liked that.

chloe’s voice was a royal purple, which makes sense since she was pretty much high school royalty, but the purple clung to others like an octopus. her voice was heavily reliant on the others.

jenna’s voice was also purple, but it was the kind of purple that was almost black. it was sort of like the purple flats his mother used to have, which only shone purple in the sun. maybe jenna’s voice would be brighter and livelier if she had the spotlight more often for reasons other than spreading rumors.

madeleine’s voice was magenta, but she didn’t get a drawing because she was always mean to brooke.

dustin’s voice was one of the most fascinating ones. you would think at first glance that it would definitely be green— everything about him screams green— and if not green than purple or blue, but his voice was a shiny yellow color that nearly blew jeremy away when he spoke.

(his phone had an option to change the word bubbles in a group chat, so he changed them to their voices in the one they all (minus madeleine) have. it helps him remember who says what.)

when jeremy gave the papers to the others the next day, he could definitely see their confusion, but for michael it all kind of clicked. he had looked up, still mildly confused, and said “the color thing?”

jeremy nodded and smiled nervously, wringing his hands as he felt the other’s eyes on him, explaining to the ground that the colors are their voices.

“you got mine wrong!” rich piped up, making jeremy’s eyes go wide as his head snapped up to meet his gaze. “i-i what?” he stammered, looking at him with probably the same confusion the others were still sporting as they watched the two talk about well rich said that his name was green but this wasn’t his name it was his voice.

as rich explained that he had color-grapheme synesthesia and jeremy explained his own form, the group quickly caught on and appreciated the messy colored scribbles on their individual pieces of paper.
christine made a bunch of sounds and asked him to describe them, which was a little overwhelming, but he went along with it. dustin admired his paper quietly, making jeremy nervous about what he thought of it. the rest of the group asked him a lot of questions, which was fun, but none of them called him a freak or a weirdo like he was worried they might.

jeremy felt content in that moment. like everything was okay, and that he wasn’t alone.