Positive Affirmations In Hell (CHROMOPHOBIA TOC Pt. 17)

Personal nightmares are hard to escape, even if you make to "The Oasis"

Hello there! And welcome to our 17th entry in the CHROMOPHOBIA table of contents! Today is March 22nd, 2022, and we only have EIGHT more stories left to showcase! April will be here before you know it. Then, May, and suddenly, June. The days are long but the years fly by.

Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.

Today’s story:

“The Oasis”

by Christa Wojciechowski

An excerpt:

“What do I do with it?”

“Just flush it down,” the doctor says, peering at me through the webcam.

“Okay. I will.” I stare at it, the gelatinous scarlet blob. Frothy bubbles line its edges against the encroaching toilet water, an island in a colorless sea.

“It’s just like a heavy period.” She blinks repeatedly, waiting for me to respond.

I remind myself it isn’t really a baby yet. I’d researched online before my decision. The embryo would be the size of a pea at this point and resemble the offspring of a frog. Then I wonder, would I even do this to a tadpole? I felt a baffling sense of power when I swallowed the pills—a sacrifice for the good of all. For myself, Bill, and the individual who would be spared a future with us. Still, remote abortion seemed too easy. I should suffer more. I should feel shame. Is that what I feel but am too stunned to access it?

“Take ibuprofen and get some rest. If you experience anything unusual, please call us right away.”

“Uh huh.”

“And our mental wellness team is here for you, too.”

I tap the red circle on my phone to end the call. I tell myself I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t even entertain the thought of becoming a mother. It would mean never getting out of our neighborhood, of always driving around in our old Toyota, of only seeing and tasting the world through daytime dramas and trashy Netflix series. The book I’m reading about victim syndrome said I was the only one holding myself back. It was up to me to take responsibility for my happiness. I was planning to leave Bill unless something drastic happened. Having his baby would eliminate any possibility of ever getting out.

But this is my creation—the gleaming clots. They float in a stillness that disturbs me. Only the color is loud, a scarlet so deep and vibrant and vital. I’m fearful that I might see it twitch, but also hoping for a sign of life—curious to meet this alternate reality diverted. This possibility snubbed. I imagine he is the little boy Bill always wanted. I think of all the first moments—the birthday cakes, Bill teaching him to ride a bike, me helping him with his homework, him growing into a man, bringing home a girl. Getting married. Grandkids and Christmas dinners and someone to care of us when we’re old, like we did for our parents as they defragmented into foggy impressions of the people they used to be. And I wonder if I sift through the blood that I would find the tiny creature with its bulbous head and curled tail, nestled in the gore.

I can’t bear the thought of him sliding down slimy pipes and intermingling with the fecal matter of Ludwig County. I scoop out the clots with a stainless skimmer spoon and slip them into a Ziploc bag, vowing that one day I’ll dispose of it with some sort of ceremony. For now, I save it in the freezer, nestled between the tater tots and the frozen Italian vegetable medley.

I name him Bubbles.

Christa Wojciechowski delivers a biting little nightmare with “The Oasis.” It is the type of story that feels like walls closing in on you as you get closer and closer to the end. And, “walls closing in” is a fitting metaphor, considering the relationship chronicled in the story. This sharp, insightful character study falls into the “Careful What You Wish For” category of horror fiction.

You can learn more about Christa and her work HERE.

As well, Ladies of Horror Fiction have a very nice interview with Christa that you can read 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

Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.

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

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