María Alejandra Barrios
The Color of Eggs
I start with a canvas the color of white eggs. I picture sitting in your cube-like bedroom in Manhattan. One cigarette, after the other, your tousled waves cascading on your pillow. The sound of your hair moving on the bed already a memory. And I want to tell you to hold still. I want to remember you re-arranging and destroying the origami duck that you had just made with your fancy paper. And the dove, the monkey, the little boat and the flower too (the one that had taken you ‘ages'). Crumples of blue paper scattered on the floor.
Picture the palette: the white color of eggs and the blush pink I used to wear and you said it made me look like a little girl. Pink, the color of a crushed peony, red bursting from the inside wanting to come out. A plastic, foreign fragrance bottled and long forgotten. I love peonies because they signify the start of the summer and my story with you. Picture yellow and a time where my eyes were always almost-closed (I never got used to the feeling of the sun in my eyes). But at the time, at the time, at the time (I start this letter so many times in my head. Words get stuck). Picture me with a cigarette in my mouth, legs crossed, all business: saying, "Hey." Like it was nothing. Like I wasn't picturing sitting with you at the tip of your firescape, our tanned legs dangling, my heart already half broken and you laughing at the people drinking and shouting in the corner of your Lower East Side street. Because that was always you, stinking of whiskey. Dealing with the possibility that this city was transient, something to forget and something to keep in your mind when you were long gone.
But to paint this picture I would have to step in your shoes like I owned them or still had them (your cherry old boots) like I had any right to ever own anything of yours.
And I don't.
I gather all the materials that I need to bring us back together. But when I pick up the pencil, and trace a line, the curve of your lips, your almond-shaped eyes, the cloudiness of your expression (the one people said it made you look like me) I drop it and instead, I remember the color of eggs. It's winter here, I drink and I chain smoke (and drink) and in an urge, I cover our painting in white and start again.
I'm trying to paint a picture so you understand: we're old ghosts, shedding our bones.
is a Pushcart-nominated writer born in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has an MA in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester and currently lives in Brooklyn. Her stories have been published in places such as Hobart Pulp, Reservoir Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, Shenandoah Literary, Vol.1 Brooklyn, El Malpensante, Moon City Review, Fractured Lit
and SmokeLong Quarterly
. Her work is forthcoming in Flash Frog, Pidgeonholes
and The Offing
. She was the 2020 SmokeLong Flash Fiction Fellow and her work has been supported by organizations such as Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Arts Center, and the New Orleans Writing Residency.