Red. She remembered the first time she elected to wear the color on her own. She was six and her father refused to let her bring her doll to school.
“I need her!” She held the plush toy to her chest as she cried, her head buried in its soft cloth, her tears soaking its perpetually smiling face. Her father barely glanced at her. She raised her face towards her towering hero’s. “I need her!” This time she yelled louder, willing him to understand her pain by the decibel.
“Why? Children need parents, not the other way around.”
His well-reasoned response did not appease. Tears flooded her eyes. She opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out, just a barely audible squeak.
“Do you want to put on your blue dress?” He laid his hand gently on her shoulder.
“No!” She tore away from him and ran out of the foyer, up the grand staircase common in old buildings built before the Great Hunger. In her room, she slammed the door behind her with the full force of her little arms and tore off her yellow dress with wild movements. She threw it on the floor with a flourish, doll still tucked under her arm, and stomped towards the glass door that separated the small room from a smaller closet. A ‘whoosh’ sound emanated as her palm slammed the button that caused her dresses to rotate around cylindrical machinery. The mostly yellow content blurred with a heap of purple, scoop of blue, spoon of brown, and single dash of red to create a kaleidoscope which muddied into the color of shit. Her mother’s favorite dress, as well as the color of fertile soil.
She yelled “Red is the color of anger!” And the machinery promptly stopped, her single red dress swaying slightly in front of her. She yanked it from where it hung and pulled it over her head defiantly, feeling less so as the soft synthetic fibers caressed her baby shoulders and the weight of the slightly pleated skirt swished around her knobby knees. She wiped her cheeks with one hand while looking down at the frozen face of the doll she held in her arms.
“Ready to go?” Her father materialized at her door. She remembered placing her doll on the bed and walking calmly to where he stood, grabbing his hand, and him squeezing it gently before saying “I’m proud of you, Goldie.”
Simon’s cries summoned her back to the present. “Simon is awake,” the home intoned. As she approached the nursery, pressure sensitive floor tiles sensed her movements, appeasing some larger AI program whose job it was to keep vigilant watch over society’s most vulnerable members. Simon wailed harder, as Mary deftly grabbed the blue blanket draped over the side of his crib.
“Simon my lion,
Your love keeps me flying.”
She ad-libbed lyrics as she reached one hand beneath each armpit of his white linen jumper.
“Without you I’m dying,
But like Christ I’m rising.”
“You’ll always be with me again.”
She slipped one yellow strap off her shoulder. Simon latched on immediately, clutching her swollen breast and sucking greedily on one chafed nipple. The quiet sucking sound of his feeding replaced the cries. Seth brought her a wearable breast pump with removable milk receptacles many months ago, but to her own surprise, she never used it.
“Seth is home,” the house announced.
She ignored the announcement, settling into a comfortable chair and closing her eyes as Simon gurgled in milk ecstasy. The sound of the garage door barely reached her ears.
“Howie, play Debussy.” The house was named mere hours after moving in by a sunny Mary, who insisted the slant rhyme was cute. “Howie the House sounds like a magical place to be a baby,” she smiled at her own silliness, tossing her hair back in a trademark laugh and leaned into Seth’s weight. She wrapped both arms around one of his giant arms and leaned her head on one giant shoulder, breathing in the fresh laundry scent of a pale, banana-colored tunic.
‘Claire de Lune,’ played softly from the speaker in Simon’s room. She heard the door open and shut, and then the tapping of dress shoes on tile. A quick tap dance about the kitchen to discover what was for dinner, then the clicks became louder and quieter as he moved past the nursery towards their bedroom to change clothes. The sound of Debussy’s soft lullaby followed him across the house, one speaker to the next, mimicking his movements. She heard the soft padding of his socked feet. He was so quiet now that she couldn’t gauge his location until he went silent, and she opened her eyes to find him standing in front of her, wearing a pink t-shirt, hair still in its workday coif, face lightly shadowed from the day’s growth, eyes glinting mischievously over his oily nose and blonde mustache.
She smiled softly, “Daddy’s home.”
He didn’t say anything in response, just bent to kiss Simon softly on the crown of his head, then raised to her eye-level, caressing his fingers lightly across her knees and teased her dress up her thighs.
“Dad,” she whispered, “give me a second.” She hoisted the baby on her hip and rose to her feet. Simon’s spindly limbs had transformed into fat fingers and doughy legs in a matter of months. The sweet sound of his laugh prompted her to pick up a yellow rattle and give to his small chubby grasp. The movement was so natural that her conscious mind did not register it, much like the unconscious beating of her heart.
“Howie, can you keep Simon for a few minutes?” A rectangular portion of the previously white, blank wall leapt into color. Woodland animals performed a dance with unnatural glee to the tune of silly, yet educational lyrics. A cavity materialized on the ceiling and from it dropped a harness attached to large, stretchy bands. Simon waved his rattle with one hand while simultaneously sucking on his other fist. He glanced at her briefly with his father’s icy stare, then turned his attention to the wall.
About the Creator
I am more of a reader than a writer. When I was a little girl my favorite book was Where the Red Fern Grows. In middle school it was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. As a young woman it became Beloved by Toni Morrison.