I seem to be interested in red and green just now. This is actually almost one and a half k -- that is, in this increasingly nonsensical conversion, 275 words, give or take.
I had this nice orderly idea to post a series of stories graduated from 100 to 300 words in length and then comment thoughtfully about the differences in building each one, but production did not precisely accommodate itself to my schema and I feel too worn out tonight to insist. Anyway, I'll think about it.True Red
This isn't a true red. He holds two paint cards against one another, frowning to intensify the contrast. That little bit of red-green colour blindness undermines not so much his perception as his faith. He could be choosing something too brown, because he likes brown, or likes that colour that he sees while other people are seeing reddish-brown and brown and greenish-brown. Dried blood, mossy grave-dirt. Or worse, he could be choosing something too bold because he's over-compensating. The names should be helpful, but they draw him down avenues of uneasy speculation. Sweet Wild Cherry might have blue undertones. Sticky Candy could be too stark. Raw Carnelian would be faded, sickly. He thumbs the striped sample cards. His fingers are tacky under a thin coating of sweat.
The clerk is making helpful faces and offering him a colour disambiguation lens, attached to the paint display by a chain of plastic beads. He is supposed to look through the lens with his non-dominant eye to clarify the shade. The clerk has a hand-held scanner that will match anything they present to its glassy gaze: a peony, a photograph of someone's gaping mouth, a pinprick of blood. The clerk gestures to a luminous surface on which he can test out phantom versions of his colour. None of this can help.
A true red. Moulting Cardinal. Dying Caesar. He pulls out colours he knows are nothing like what he needs. Vintage Burgundy, Sugar Plum Fairy, In the Navy. Whatever he brings back will be wrong, will be glanced over and set aside—no, ignored—no, laughed at—no, greeted with semi-compassionate silence. Still, hands stuffed with wrong answers, he feels compelled to choose.