By Melanie Maggard
October 15, 2023
October 15, 2023
Glen painted his wife into every house he built. Before the first coat, after the primer, he’d write her name with a black marker in the corner of each room, just like he did when he carved it into the bark of a dogwood tree on Red Root Ridge when they were fifteen. JANELLE. All caps, each letter two inches tall, big enough to read from across the room if you knew where to look. Then he’d paint the walls, one coat, two coats, sometimes three, believing each layer lacquered his love to something solid, a place where she belonged, a place she couldn’t leave. She usually lay beneath shades of snow and fog, but, from time to time, if he was lucky, he’d swim her in citrus or blush or ultramarine. At night, he dreamt of her cocooned under all those layers of paint. Her fingers sprawling along the walls like sunlight, her legs peeling away through slick latex, her eyes absorbing energy until they glowed in their search for him. Then she walks out of each of those houses, and forty-seven versions of her return home. He’d wake in the dark and plan how he could sneak in to saturate the beige box of her hospice room. Then, maybe, just maybe, he’d see her drink in the luminance, her edges and curves and memories filling in again. She’d reappear in the painting studio over the garage in her favorite poppy dress, a violet apron tied above soft hips, her voice washing over him as she’d ask one last time if he had more paint.
Melanie Maggard is a flash and poetic prose writer who loves dribbles and drabbles. She has published in Cotton Xenomorph, The Dribble Drabble Review, X-R-A-Y Magazine, Five Minute Lit, and others. She can be found online at www.melaniemaggard.com and @WriterMMaggard.