Tomato Red and Cherry Chapstick

Inspired by a conversation I had about mental health with some cool peeps yesterday.

“Absolutely famished.”

“Honestly, same.”

“Should we?”

“I mean, probably.”

I held the door open for her; she slipped inside. The walls were still wet with a fresh coat of blood from a can. She ran her finger over a drop as it migrated down.

“Bad paint job.” She muttered.

“Granted, the walls were pretty hard to fix.”

“That’s what happens when you take a sledgehammer to a building.”

I shrugged, kicked open a box of pizza, and sat on the dusty floors.

“Do you even remember what this place looked like before—”


“Why do you never want to talk about i—”

“Why did you order pepperoni? You know I can’t eat that.”

“You could just pull them off—”

“You could have just ordered cheese.”

“Next time.”

Eventually she sat down next to me, handing over a water bottle while avoiding eye contact

“How’s work?”

“Same as always, ah’guess.”

What a fantastic conversationalist. You ever yelled at yourself in your head before? Weird thing.

“Tell me one thing.” She started.

“I don’t—”

“Let me—can I just—one thing, that’s all I want to say. Can I say one thing?”

I sat silently awaiting.

“Why’d you do it?”

“Do what?” I tried.

“Why’d you take an axe to our living room, Jacob? Why’d you knock over our photos? Why’d you tear the strings of the carpet out one by one?”

“It wasn’t one by one.” Too much effort. Impressed she thought differently.

“Who are you?” She cried. No one ever means that question. “Who are you?” A little louder. “TELL ME WHO YOU ARE.”

I broke my own trust and snapped my eyes in her direction. The tight curls around her face defied gravity. Gold was missing from around her eyes; they were swollen. She wasn’t boring to look at, at all. But when I stared too long, her face mushed together. Into a Pangea of regret and pain. And she thought she didn’t know me?

“Have you ever considered becoming a model?”

“What the fu—”

“You’re nice to look at.”

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that.”

“Then again, I’m biased.”

“What are you doing?”

“What’cha mean?”

“You’re ruining everything.”

“It was already ruined.” I laughed a little, she didn’t seem to like that.

“I’m leaving.” She wouldn’t. I knew her better than she did. She’d stay, help me rebuild the walls. We’d paint them a new color, something hopeful. But the walls always found their own special way of not doing the wall thing. She really liked building houses.

“Did the neighbors like the baguettes.”


“I thought you said baguettes.”

“Why would I buy the neighbors a baguette?”

“We should buy them a baguette next time.”

“There won’t be a next time. This isn’t happening again. I won’t stay anymore.” She would.  I didn’t have to say it either. She knew. Of all the houses she’d built, this one was by far her favorite.

“Lillian, tell me this. Why paint the walls if you’re leaving?”

“Walls deserve to be painted.”

“And painted, and repainted, and peeled back to reveal the last twelve colors you thought would be better.”

“I just want the house to look ok.”

“It doesn’t deserve to be standing.” There was mold. Somewhere, I was sure. She looked to be angered. Not surprising, she pointed her eyes downward, the rest of her face arching. I laughed at her, couldn’t seem to stop laughing.

She suddenly jumped up, flinging herself at the wall. She punched and clawed at the holes, wet red left behind on her clothing and fingernails.

I’m tired of never being enough.” She kicked the bottom left corner, the only spot I’d never tried to ruin, between hot breaths, and screams

“You’re enough for me.” She stopped. Looked at me.

“Who am I?” She whispered, color dripping down her sleeves, soaking into her skin. Golden stained crisp apple candy. Chocolate made cherry. Love and hate and anger and passion and cherry red lips later, looked me in the eye, told me she loved me. Told me she didn’t know how to live without me, told me she wished we’d never met as kids, told me she wished I’d torture someone else for eternity instead, told me her demons ever appeared as men.

“Valid.” Cranberry handprints followed their way to my face, two layers of red, the third a neurological response. She began clawing at my eyes, pulled out my hairs one by one. Tore the shirt, felt the boiling heat of rage bubble over into the worst decision she’d make. Brought her palms into the air, making fists, bringing them down onto me. Over and Over. But demons don’t feel. Surely, she knew. Surely, I’d made her aware.

“Sweetheart.” I did not resist, I asked politely. But kicks and screams and piles of something else to match the else on the wall. The shelves fallen over.
I wasn’t worried. She’d rebuild me too.


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