The Painted Earthling

Painted Gloria © Gloria Macher


Painted Gloria © Gloria Macher


I come from a thousand light-years beyond the dark twilight of Earth, a planet today corroded by ambition and destroyed by so many shambles and fights over territorial and ethnic powers and other foolishness of the human species. Pure greed. Pure lack of humanity.

They have sent me to compete with other creatures of the cosmos, given the great exotic beauty of my colours, which like rare diamonds, shine with purity and perfection not seen in these parts of the universe. I feel very flattered but sometimes I regret having covered myself with so many colours from our multiple earthly histories. But they were there, exposed in the Global Market of New York headquarters in Battery Park in front of what was once an island that was said to represent the freedom of the people. The truth is that I stole them when the end approached, and had to hide them discreetly on my body when I ran to grab one of the few spaceships that left La Guardia towards the Polaroid Station, in Black Hole VI. I did not think, at that moment, that I would carry the irritating weight of history and that I would become an astral circus monkey.

I have as my eyes the true intense ultramarine blue, flattered by the Greeks and Romans, which appealed to the imagination of the Old World and was coveted dearly by Dutch painters while the great European maritime powers plundered the shores of Africa and the Americas. It has nothing to do with the synthetic blue indigo discovered during the industrial revolution when England, the Netherlands, Germany and France decided, under penalty of death, to prohibit Portugal from exporting its indigo derived from an Asian plant hallucinated with blue. This blue that I have is so intense and unique that I receive the daily visit of a creature from planet ZX2. Every time it makes eye contact with me, it throws sparks of luminous quasars.

At least it is more reserved than YU4, who I think is fascinated by the golden Indian yellow of my skin. The creature has no idea that in my land, this pigment was obtained, according to certain stories, from the urine of Indian cows fed exclusively on tender leaves of mango trees. Others said it came from Persia or China, but not from India. What is certain is that because of the striking yellow colour, it became a favorite of alchemists in both China and the West in the quest to obtain gold while destroying civilizations. Be that as it may, the pigment I put on before being exiled is guaranteed to exist for more than 100 years, as is that of Rembrandt’s watercolours shining in the museums of my land of yesteryear.

I think what also catches YU4’s attention, because of the aura I see shining around its head, is the scarlet red with which I painted my fingers. Traditionally extracted from the blood of aphids, it became famous around the world. The first evidence of its use is attributed to the Sumerians. It was also used in ancient times in Egypt, Greece and the Near East. It became more expensive than gold at the time of the Spanish conquests, when Spain decided to keep secret the origin of its carmine.

When they discovered that it was also found in the mealybugs that lived as parasites in the cactus of México’s nopal, the monopoly broke down after violent red wars. The supply from other countries in South America, and from Indonesia and the Canary Islands emerged to cover the beautiful fabrics, paint, clothing and makeup from around the world in this sumptuous, dark red beauty that is even eaten in ice cream and treats. Without really knowing, but with great intuition, I think it is the latter that attracts my daily visitor who is always putting something into what seems to be a mouth.

I always try to cover my feet, painted fuchsia and magenta, so as not to cause visitors to faint. I know that it is the pièce de résistance in this body that magically does not age since I left Earth’s orbit. I think that the mixture of the colourless pigment of my skin with the colours I stole has helped to lacquer them and therefore resist time and light. But hey, I am neither a chemist nor a doctor. I only know that this magenta weighs on me a lot when I walk. It must be because of the battle of Magenta, between France and Austria. So much blood was spilled that the battlefield was incredibly reddish. Now it is so embedded in my toes that there are times I need to be transported by a crane when they move me from one universal cosmic exhibit to the other.

How lucky I was to not steal the “mummy powder” to paint my dark brown hair. The historical weight would be immense when I think with what impudence – and without the slightest archeological scruple – they mixed the bone meal and embalming bitumen of the Egyptian mummies during the Renaissance to obtain the desired colour. The obsession reached the point of using it in ointments, syrups and potions to cure diseases. The demand was so great that the Egyptian mummies were replaced by European mummies. I had very good judgment when deciding on a black pigment of charcoal. It doesn’t cause so much agitation but it integrates very well with the rest of my colourful body.

What I show very little is my tongue painted with golden powder that China distributed throughout the world, ignoring the threats of the United States. What I have is a high-calibre powder pigment and not those poisonous ones that circulated before the World Trade Organization based in Geneva put a serious halt on trade worldwide. I know that the beauty of my tongue is as if it were an exquisite traditional painting of the magnificent Hua Yen, but even more intense since it reveals a brightness never imagined. Worth shocking all galactic visitors.

I am hoping to participate very soon in the highest competition, organized by the Globalizing Galactic Association, where I will stick out my tongue and thus be able to successfully retire and lead a healthier and more serene life. Far away from these stressful whirlpools of representing a cosmic territory that has already disintegrated for not knowing how to live in peace and accept each other’s differences. The colours have already served their time. So have I.




Gloria Macher, author of six books, is the recipient of the International Latino Book Award and was a finalist for the Verbum Ibero-American Novel Award and the IV Premio Internacional de Narrativa “Novelas Ejemplares” (granted by the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain).