2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 3

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write something that incorporates the color red.
Author:
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Let’s keep this going! If you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (or anywhere else), be sure use the #FlashFictionFeb hashtag.

Flash Fiction Challenge

For today’s prompt, write a story that incorporates the color red.

Remember: These prompts are just starting points; you have the freedom to go wherever your flash of inspiration takes you.

Note on sharing your work: If you wish to share your stories, scroll to the bottom of this page and use the comments section. If this is your first time commenting on the site, go to Disqus to create a free new account, verify your account on this site below (one-time thing), and then comment away. (If you happen to run into any issues posting, please just send me an e-mail at mrichard@aimmedia.com with the subject line: Flash Fiction Challenge Commenting Issue.)

Here’s my attempt at incorporating the color red:

Honorary Aunt

Her mouth looked like a tomato burst open.

That’s all I could think about, even as Kay chattered away like the screaming infant in her arms didn’t exist. She budged the baby up in her arms, pressing her tiny head against her chest.

“You know,” I said, “as far as first impressions go, this one isn’t great.”

Kay was unimpressed. “She’s a baby. Screaming is what they do.”

“She’s turning purple.”

“God, shut up about her face, she’s fine.”

“She doesn’t seem fine.”

“I love you, but shut up.”

I shut up. I stared at my friend as she stuffed a burping cloth under her baby’s head so it could continue to leak at will. She picked up her phone to check the notifications, casual as anything.

I’d once seen this woman, newly 18, blackout drunk and grinding against any dudebro she could find in the tiny, sticky frats of our tiny, backwater college. My brain tried to reconcile the memory with this fresh image of her, still in a low-cut top but now proudly bearing the soft stomach and ample cleavage of new motherhood.

“You have to give her a few weeks to really get cute,” Kay said.

“What?”

Her eyes were still glued to her phone. She wielded her daughter like an expert. “She’s still, like…squished.”

“Gross.”

“It’s actually the miracle of life, but sure, call my daughter gross.”

I stuck the straw of my iced coffee between my teeth to smother a laugh. “You know what I mean.”

“I know you’re an ass, but I love you anyway.”

“Uh-oh, better not say that too loudly. Marco will get jealous.”

She grinned at me, all flushed cheeks and joy. “Let him be jealous. Chicks before—”

The baby upchucked, watery milk splattering the cloth like an abstract painting.

“Oof. Looks like you’re up, Aunt Marcy.”

Aunt. It felt like a baseball in my throat as she passed her kid into my waiting hands.

Apparently more settled, she stopped wailing so loudly. Her face was still splotchy red, like she’d gotten a fever from screaming. I took the edge of my sleeve and patted her cheeks, her slimy mouth.

She had Kay’s pointed chin, but that was about it. I could see Marco in her forehead, the severe slope of her nose. I wondered if Marco looked like this as an infant, before he hit puberty and got ripped and insisted on wearing his hats backward.

“You look like your dad, kid,” I said. “I hope you grow out of that.”

Kay threw a soiled wet wipe my way, but she was laughing. “Shut up, Marcy!”

“I’m holding the baby, you lunatic!”

Kay’s chair screeched as she stood up. The baby’s head wobbled, that mouth popped wide in surprise. Kay snagged my empty cup off the table and headed to the garbage can.

I patted the baby’s diaper-covered bum. Her blurry eyes swiveled back to my face.

“Stick with your Aunt Marcy, and you’ll be fine, Emma,” I said. “You’ll be just fine.”

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