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This was the day. Rozenn showered, dressed quickly. She pulled on red panties and red bra, a red silky blouse, slim red pants, dangly red earrings to match a red bracelet, red nail polish, and wore high-heeled red sandals to show off her red toes. The night before she’d put an auburn rinse in her brown hair.

All red.

She’d read somewhere that red was the color of energy (and rage, but she put that thought aside).

Rozenn stared in the mirror and decided she was satisfied. Grabbing her keys, while wishing they were red and why hadn’t she thought to paint them? Why did things always have to be incomplete? Why couldn’t things be as she wanted them to be? Was that so hard? To create a world which pleased her? She opened the front door, walked out, closed the front door, locked it, gave the key an extra hard twist just to be sure, for that is how she did things, she was always sure, she was always doing things with an extra hard twist.

Rozenn got into her wished it was red car and backed out of her driveway (and the regret over having a silver car instead of the correct color of the day made her momentarily blinded, so that she couldn’t see the road in front of her; she blinked, blinked again, and then all became clear—it always did).

She was making very good time. Ten minutes and forty-two seconds according to her brand new, red-banded watch. Then there she was. A deep sigh. Combing her now-red hair one more time, she checked in the rearview to be sure her hair was shiny and soft-looking. It was. This pleased her. She looked good and she knew it. This was so very exciting. She took a moment to think of last Tuesday, for that day had been blue, blue and black to be exact, but she let the black float away, before it sucked her up as a black hole would. She didn’t trust black.

That Tuesday, Jack came home and said to her, “Rozenn, you’ve got to stop coming by the office so much.”

She smiled at him. (Oh! He was so handsome! And he looked so good in navy!)

“This is serious. My boss is on my case about it.” He took off his blue striped tie. “I could get fired over this.”

She went to him, placed her hands on his shoulders, and kissed him hard. His lips were cold from the outdoors, the snow white on the ground, the sky blue and bluer.

He backed away from her. Two steps and he was apart. “I’m not letting you manipulate me this time. I’ve had enough.” Turned away, strode down the hall, slammed the bedroom door, and soon the shower sounded.

Rozenn kicked off her shoes, took off her housecoat, shook out her hair (which was brown brown plain brown that day) and went to join him.

She didn’t understand why he was so angry.

She didn’t understand why he pushed her out of the shower.

She didn’t understand why he said she was too needy. Too clingy. Too obsessed. Too Too. She’d sat on the toilet and waited for him to finish cleansing himself, watched him towel off, his body a beautiful olive color, watched him put on his blue shirt and blue jeans. He’d stomped out, stomp stomp, and left her alone in their blue bathroom. All this blue blue blue. That Tuesday had been so blue.

Shaking her head to clear the mists away (sometimes the mists crowded in, and she couldn’t think straight; she didn’t like the white any better than the black—if black was infinite, white was nothing, a state of absence).

Getting out of her car, she was careful to keep her legs together as her mother had taught her. Her poor mother, always in gray. Gray clothes, eyes, teeth, hair. Her poor mother slithering about the house as if an apparition. Her father gone before she could focus on him, gone while she was still in her crib. She only remembered this looming figure with black hair and black eyes, this big hairy head staring at her, without blinking.

Rozenn walked from the parking lot to the tall art deco building towering above her, looked up up up. This was the building she was going in; twenty stories high and full of important people with briefcases and suits with heels or ties. Rozenn was going to the nineteenth floor. She watched herself approach, admiring, in the glass entrance doors. Once inside, her red sandals clicked on the brown tile floor; she watched her red toe nails with satisfaction. Her toes had never looked so good.

Punched the elevator button, saw the gleam of her red fingernail, smiled in satisfaction. She had grown her nails long just for this occasion (oh, usually she bit them off to the quick, chewed on them, chewing until they bled, but she didn’t feel the pain, what was pain anyway? Nothing, it was nothing at all. Her mother knew that, which is why her mother did those things to herself, cutting at herself, slapping herself, pulling her hair out by the roots. Rozenn had watched her, peeking through the crack in the door, how the gray turned scarlet, then faded to gray again.)

Entering the elevator, she was satisfied to see her mirrored reflection all around her. She was in front of herself and behind herself and beside herself. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Rozenn laughed out loud at that happy sound. She hoped she didn’t have any red lipstick on her teeth and rubbed them just in case. She checked her finger, no lipstick. Perfect.

Nineteenth floor. Rozenn left the elevator with one last backward glance to see herself exiting and gave herself a wink. The elevator doors closed with a nice sounding swoosh that she really liked. Swoosh! Shoosh! Her red sandals didn’t click this time because there was carpeting on the nineteenth floor. Blue carpet with brown speckles. Blue with Brown. Blue. It got on her nerves to look at it.

Some people were speaking to her, she could see their mouths working excitedly, but she didn’t hear what they said. She just kept walking. The hallway became longer and longer. Rozenn was walking through a tunnel, getting narrower as she went along. She wondered if she’d grow tinier with it, narrowing herself until she disappeared.

Instead she stood taller, grew bigger, until at last she was at the end of the hall.

The corner office. The corner office with the nice view of the lake. The corner office with the huge desk and the stacks of files and the ringing telephone where important calls were made. The corner office with the view and the desk and the files and the ringing telephone and Jack and Jack’s pretty assistant who wore pink or yellow or green and had blond hair and pale fingernails which raked across Jack’s back. Rozenn’s head began throbbing, hurting, and before she could stop herself, her right hand quick quicker reached up and slapped herself on the cheek. Slap! Slap!

Rozenn stopped, remembered she needed to apply more lipstick; she was right in front of the door to the corner office. She needed, really needed to make sure she looked no less than perfect. Rozenn opened her purse and, why, wait a minute, what do you know? Rozenn had put something else in her purse instead of her red lipstick!

Well, Rozenn knew. She suddenly remembered. Yes.

Opened the door and walked into the office where the carpet was still blue with brown specks in it that got on her nerves. Rozenn held her purse nice and tight. The walls were grey. Like a cold winter’s day. She hated it. She stared at the person in pale yellow with pale fingertips, with pale hair, who stood up behind the desk yelling angrily at her. Rozenn laughed at her, and said, “You’ll always remember this red day.”

Through the adjoining door. Jack stood. “What the hell are you doing here, Rozenn? I told you, it’s over! Get out, you crazy bitch!”

Behind her she heard the pale one say, “I’m calling security, Jack.”

Rozenn decided right then and there.

She took out the item that wasn’t her lipstick and pointed.

Taking care of things was important to Rozenn. Seeing the world in the correct colors was important to Rozenn.

Rozenn pointed and fired until Jack was all in red, too.

Then, filled with completion, Rozenn shot the window, ran quickly towards the splintering glass, heedless of shouts and screams and Jack’s last exhale, and flew, flew, flew—ever she flew, a red bird, beautiful in the sunlight.

 


Kat is too quirky-chaotic to survive in the real world, so she left behind her beloved moss-filled grandfather oak trees in South Louisiana and escaped to her mountain fiction world in North Carolina where she spins tales, drinks Deep Creek Blend coffee, an occasional glass of wine, and even more occasional glass of vodka tonic with lime, and contemplates the glow of old Moon. She’s the author of three fiction novels, numerous short stories and essays, and a few hopeful poems.

© 2006, Kathryn Magendie

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