Well, everyone, we made it through another week! Promo for CHROMOPHOBIA continues this coming Monday, but we have one more TOC entry to drop, and it’s a doozy. When we say “You’re going to want this book,” that’s not so much marketing as it is a stone cold truth. We’ve been thoroughly impressed with the talent that editor Sara Tantlinger has brought to this anthology. Today’s story is no different.
You can pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
by Red Lagoe
Sylvia opened her eyes. The memory of her little sister came to life as a phantom upon canvas. She should paint it. She needed to paint it. To reclaim the color. To memorialize her sister in the last moment she was ever seen.
It was the moment that forced her to grow up. Sylvia had only been fifteen, but if she were watching her sister more closely, Hanna would still be with her.
Another silhouette crept into the depiction in her mind. He took Hanna in his grip and stole her. A pony tail whipped to the side, but she left without a fight. She was so far away. Sylvia couldn’t run fast enough against the tide of boardwalk strollers and bicyclists. The tangerine sky devoured Hanna’s small silhouette forever.
After Hanna was taken, that hideous, monstrosity of a color appeared everywhere. During questioning, an officer peeled a mandarin at his desk nearby. Her eyes gravitated to the color of the fruit against the white cinderblock wall as his nubby fingers dug into the peel. That day, she’d hated the officer who casually thought of food during her tragedy. His wet, sticky fingers—she envisioned as blood-orange injustice clinging to idle hands.
Sylvia gave up oranges. And carrots. She rejected every orange thing. The pumpkin-toned walls of her family kitchen suffocated her so many times, her parents had to repaint them blue. She avoided orange like it was a monster that could swallow up everything she loved.
Not that she allowed herself to love anything anymore.
Her job came first. The rage which fueled her was all there was to live for. After school, she’d studied criminal justice and then became a police officer, doing grunt work for years until finally, she made detective. That’s all she’d ever wanted since August 18, sixteen years ago—to do what the sticky, mandarin-eating man never accomplished. Sylvia would bring down child trafficking rings. She’d hunt them and scour those stains from humanity. In some small way, she’d always hoped to find her sister, but she’d come to terms with the reality years ago.
Painting could aid with processing those imprisoned emotions. Spew the bottled anger.
A knock at her door broke her focus from the canvas.
Red Lagoe’s “Tangerine Sky” is a wonderful exploration of obsession and personal expression. If the idea that “making art is easy” has ever exasperated you, then this story paints an intensely bleak antithesis that you will likely appreciate. Self-expression can be terrifying, almost as much as discovering just what it is we are capable of, artistic or otherwise. We really dug this entry, and we bet you will too!
From the author’s own website:
“Red’s short story collection Lucid Screams released in February 2020, followed by Dismal Dreams in 2021. She worked as a staff writer for Crystal Lake Publishing’s Still Water Bay series. Her stories have appeared in Dark Moon Digest, Sinister Smile Press’s If I Die Before I Wake series, Crystal Lake Publishing’s Shallow Waters series, Silver Shamrock’s Midnight from Beyond the Stars, and more.”
You can visit Red Lagoe’s website HERE.
Want to read the previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases? Click a title:
Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
Check out part three of editor Sara Tantlinger’s CHROMOPHOBIA roundtable HERE.