A nice juicy image for Magpie Tales this week. I haven’t participated for a couple of weeks and have missed it.
Hope you like my story.
Cherry was in her red period. For years she had deliberately dressed in black and white, trying to prevent the colour in her name manifesting itself in the real world. She had been vigilant, but no matter how she tried a little bit of cherry stained the edges of her world. She would wear a black skirt and white shirt to work and without even noticing would realise she was wearing red shoes. She tied the white curtains in the sitting room with scarlet ribbon, the glasses in the kitchen cupboard were vermilion Spanish glass. Even the white towels in the bathroom were edged with crimson.
Sometimes Cherry became annoyed at her name’s insistence upon pushing itself into the real world. She wondered if other people with colours for names shared her experience. The only person she knew with a colour for a name was Ebony who worked in the bookstore. She always wore white. Cherry had thought it was to highlight the stunning tan of her skin, but she could see now that it might be a deliberate ploy to keep the colour ebony out of the spotlight. Ebony would disappear in outfits coloured black upon black upon black. She would no longer be a person, just a colour.
Despite her years of resistance Cherry had given in. The power of the colour in the name was as great as an addiction. Falling in to its demands was a relief greater than scratching an itch that lasted for a hundred days.
Cherry felt like a professional diver, immersed and swimming through what was her heart’s desire if only she cared to admit it to herself. The colour of life. The colour of blood. The colour of heat. She drank coffee every morning from the red 1960s Barker Brothers coffee set she had unwittingly bought at auction. It turned the coffee to chocolate. She lounged around the house in the morning wearing a crepe de chine dressing gown in deepest carnadine. She dug out her Chanel coco rouge lipstick from the deepest recesses of her dressing table drawers and wore it proudly while watching television.
She was deep in the throes of her obsession, saying her name over and over as she made strawberry crepes for breakfast, penne arrabiatta for lunch and a fillet steak, extremly rare for dinner.
Cherry. Cheeeeeeerry. Cherrrrrrry.
She began to gather things she saw outside. Red things. A row of red leaves she had found on the ground lined the window sill. Little exclamation points greeting the day. Someone had thrown away a bag of old jam jars. She discarded the jars but kept the lids, the colour of cochineal. She got in trouble for cutting Mrs. Bathgate’s prize roses. Pure ruby, said Cherry. A prize. I couldn’t pass them up. The colour of a Queen’s coronation robe. So grand. Mrs. Bathgate didn’t share Cherry’s enthusiasm. She threatened to sue.
The days grew warmer. Cherry longed for something cooling and fresh for lunch, something that suggested places far away. Gazpacho, she said. I must have it. And for that I need tomatoes.
The greengrocer’s was busy. Cherry smiled as she always did at Teal, the greengrocer’s son. He was dressed entirely in olive, resplendent as a mythological woodsman.
I need some tomatoes, she said. Bursting with ripeness, brilliantly red.
There’s been a rush on tomatoes today, Teal said. I only have Big Zebras left.They’re huge beefsteak tomatoes. Their exterior ripens to a unique combination of green and red stripes. They’re great tasting, great for slicing, and a lot of fun to grow. They make a beautiful sweet salsa.
I don’t know how to make salsa, Cherry said. I really wanted fully red tomatoes.
I can show you, Teal said, fixing Cherry with a knowing look that said perhaps life meant not always getting what you wanted, especially when it came to fully red tomatoes. That look suggested experimentation and adventure and thinking outside the box. That look made Cherry feel warm and shivery at the same time.
Teal made a delicious salsa in a clear glass bowl. The red and green tomatoes glistened like jewels. They ate the salsa with crusty bread and sipped martinis, Teal’s with an olive on a cocktail stick, Cherry’s with a glace cherry.
When they had finished, Teal grabbed her round the waist and they danced the samba long into the night.
Cherry felt the release of something she hadn’t even known she was holding on to. The room became filled with every colour she had ever imagined, coating the walls and floor like magic. It was as insubstantial as starlight, bathing the figures clothed in red and green in the finest gossamer so deep and ever-changing it soon became hard to tell where one colour ended and another began.
It was as if a dream had veered over into reality and had stepped into the room.