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Tuesday, March 29th, 2022. The week continues to roll along and bless us with good stories. This is our 22nd short-story showcase! And, we now enter the final countdown. There are only three more stories to round out the end of CHROMOPHOBIA, our upcoming horror anthology. Editor Sara Tantlinger has assembled a mighty fine book, in our opinion. Feel free to scroll to the bottom of the article to catch up on any stories you may have missed from previous weeks.
And, consider pre-ordering the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE. These hardcovers will not be available after the pre-order window closes (June 30th).
Hope in Her Devouring
By Tiffany Morris
Hungry for an orange-colored sky, her stomach knotted acidic with Valencia juice. The cuts on her hands stung as the peel unraveled. As rind separated from flesh, the pungent sweet smell filled her stuffy apartment.
She’d thought, of course she’d thought, the cursed song was just an urban legend. She’d heard of it, but she hadn’t paid that much attention. She didn’t know when she must have heard “(From Nothing) With Flowers” but she had certainly never sought it out. Now the world was draining of its colors and turning blue.
The song was rumored to change connections in the brain, infecting every listener with a seizure synesthesia. The song arrested the listener’s senses and changed how color and sound were communicated. Upon hearing it, so the story went, people went mad, blinding themselves or killing themselves as their world grew dim. She knew the world aglow outside her window must have been gray: Oyster-soft and stretched out over the city, a world painted in shades of dirty late-winter snow. The temperature outside was humid; the weather app said cloudy with a chance of showers.
She swallowed the last orange segment, a pale harvest half-moon. The small piece went down thick and coarse in her throat. The box of fruit now emptied, she threw the shed snakeskin of the peel in the garbage and broke the box down into large, jagged splinters.
This was her hope: Orange was complementary, the opposite of the blue that infected her.
Evelyn peered out the kitchen window. The world outside was indeed blue. Not the beautiful cathedral blue carved into the eye of some god. Not the color of the hour before sunrise, the way it exhaled the calm anticipation of a new day. It was the sadness of your name forgotten. The dry fade of a cracked old house, rotting from within, abandoned by a family who had once laughed within its walls. The navy-tinged black of the body stains silhouetted on its floors.
Oranges. She needed more oranges. Other orange fruits, sliced open at the gut dripping blood-slow down her forearm, gushing down her chin, falling in sticky rivulets onto her chest. She would buy orange fabric to wrap herself in, something in a shimmering chiffon, prom dress bright and gleaming, or maybe something silken-soft or woven, something to grasp onto and sink her fingernails into. She was determined to find an antidote to the infestation devouring her eyes.
Evelyn wouldn’t blind herself. She could find a way to live with it, if she had to.
Tiffany Morris dabbles in urban myth with “Hope in Her Devouring” and delivers a visually-striking portrait of emotional turmoil. Fans of Billie Holiday who are familiar with “Gloomy Sunday” and its supposed curse will recognize what’s happening to the story’s protagonist. And the dedication to color as an integral part of the narrative, as both salvation and damnation, is admirable.
You can find out more about Tiffany Morris and her work HERE.
Want to read the previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases? Click a title:
Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
Check out part four of editor Sara Tantlinger’s CHROMOPHOBIA roundtable HERE.