NYT-bestseller Jacqueline West Contributes a Bittersweet Horror To CHROMOPHOBIA’s TOC (pt.20)

CHROMOPHOBIA continues to burst at its binding with incredible talent!

Friday, March 25, 2022. There are only five stories left to showcase! As always, we head into the weekend on a high note, something to put a spring in our step… and maybe your step, too! And if you’re excited (or excited but on the fence) for CHROMOPHOBIA, then how about a New York Times-bestselling author? We’ll take it!

You can pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.

Today’s story:


by Jacqueline West

An excerpt:

It’s been four years since I was home.

Long enough for my memories to swell and shift, taking on those stained-glass tints that emotion casts over everything. Long enough for the house in my mind to turn vast, rambling, every room a cavern of mood-dyed moments. So when I pull up to the white wooden house at the end of the gravel road, I have to check the porch numbers twice. This house is so worn. So small. It couldn’t possibly hold so many words, so many minutes, so many silences.

If the woods behind the house didn’t look as deep as I remember, I’d wonder if I imagined it all. But green-blue shadows still swim in the hollows where Mina and I used to hide all day, every day, out of reach of that house and everything in it. At least that memory is real.

Mom doesn’t answer my knock at the front door.

I’ve never knocked before. I’m sure the key in my bag still works, but it doesn’t seem right to use it on a door that isn’t mine.

I knock again. This time a voice from inside calls, “Come in.”

The door isn’t even locked.

When I step across the threshold, the first thing I notice is the smell. The house doesn’t smell like him anymore. His sweat, his weekend cigarettes, that too-sweet citrus soap he used. What’s left is my mother’s scent. It’s faint, delicate. Lavender. Like dust. I couldn’t have described it before, when it was buried beneath layers of stronger things, but I know it now. I’d know it anywhere. It’s woven into me from my very start, before I knew anything else at all.

I glance around the living room. Everything is smaller, dimmer, softer than I remember. And everything is covered with clutter. Leaning stacks of books. Bundles of plants. Clusters of fallen petals, tiny white stones. The skeleton of last year’s Christmas tree—or maybe from the year before—still stands in the front window, its brittle branches strung with fairy lights.

Without my stepfather here, my mother has been free to fill this place until there’s only room enough in it for her.

And maybe for me.

Unreliable narrators are our jam (a pun that’ll make more sense once you’ve read the story), and Jacqueline West’s “Bluettes” delivers a beautiful take on this type of protagonist. Are there ghosts? Is this a haunting? How about a murder mystery? Don’t be too sure until you’ve reached the end, because just when you think you know what’s going on, the story cleverly subverts expectations. “Bluettes” seems like Weird Horror at first, but shares quite a bit with Gothic storytelling and is, ultimately, a lovely marriage of the two.

You can learn more about Jacqueline West and her bestselling work HERE.

Want to read the previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases? Click a title:

“Hei Xian (The Black Thread)” by Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito

“Stygian Blue” by Jo Kaplan

“Eat Your Colors” by Sonora Taylor

“Nesting” by Ali Seay

“Toxic Shock” by Chelsea Pumpkins

“Achromatica” by Pippa Bailey

“Hollow Bones” by Jess Koch

“The Gray’ by G.G. Silverman

“Red Light/Green Light” by EV Knight

“Golden Hour” by Kathryn E. McGee

“The Dyer and the Dressmakers” by Bindia Persaud

“The Copper Lady” by Jaye Wells

“Gray Rock Method” by Lauren C. Teffeau

“Double Happiness” by Geneve Flynn

“Tangerine Sky” by Red Lagoe

“The Color of Friendship” by KC Grifant

“The Oasis” by Christa Wojciechowski

“Greetings from Sunny Daytona Beach!” by Christine Makepeace

“From These Cold Murky Depths” by K.P. Kulski

Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.

Check out part four of editor Sara Tantlinger’s CHROMOPHOBIA roundtable HERE.

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