February 1: Very Peri

Who chooses the colors of love?

My buddy Jason turned me on to a flash fiction challenge being put on by the Storytelling Collective. Each day for this month, they’re releasing a writing prompt; the idea is to write something very brief (I’m aiming for 300-500 words) inspired by the prompt. I’ve been feeling really stunted creatively, so I decided to join in, see if this helps get my wheels turning again. I started a day late, but I started!

The first prompt was Very Peri, which is this year’s Pantone color of the year. I ended up with a somewhat autobiographical character sketch of a graphic designer with some regrets….

Lexi stared through the computer screen, absentmindedly fingering the swatch her client had chosen. Why did it have to be periwinkle? She looked at the color name printed along the edge: Very Peri. It even rhymes with her name, she thought.

She set the swatch down next to her keyboard and looked out the window. Between the dusty aluminum slats of the venetian blinds, she saw drops of water slumping down the dirty glass. Where did the screen go? Lexi scowled. Has the screen always been missing from this window?

Rain poured steadily through a crack in the edge of the gutter and splashed into a puddle below. Lexi watched a few bits of mulch and grass float around in the current of the runoff. I should plant something in that flower bed this spring, she thought. Maybe foxglove. She would love that.

Lexi turned back to her computer and flicked the touchpad a few times. A cursor beckoned to her from the blank rectangle of the text editor. Ignoring the design work with its lurking deadline, she began to type.

Dear Kerry, I am so sorry. I wish —

Lexi pulled back from the keyboard and laced her fingers together. What did she wish?

— I wish we’d had more time.

She stopped. This is so dumb. Why am I doing this? She glanced out the window, started to choose the document, then caught herself and shook her head. No. I need to say this to her. Lexi started again.

Love is complicated. I wish I’d had more time to learn how to love you the way Dad did, the way Jamie did. I wish you’d had more time to see that I am not my mother.

She looked at the color swatch again, thinking of the woman who’d once loved the way the word felt in her mouth, or who rather enjoyed not saying whether it was a shade of blue or of purple. “Why choose,” she would say, “when it can be both?”

I’m sorry we never planted flowers together. 

The tears coated her cheeks and blurred her focus as she typed a final sentence.

I miss you.

Lexi slowly closed the lid on her laptop. I’ll try again tomorrow, she thought as she turned back to the window and the rain and the puddle.