Character Wearing Something Red

I’ve had the workbook 642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto for a few years, but I’ve only filled in a few entries. Some of the prompts require more in-depth writing and a bit more muscle, but there are a few interesting ones that I’ll be pulling my writing prompts from. The book doesn’t have page numbers or a table of contents, but that made it exciting to have, that I’d have so much freedom with these prompts that I can pick whatever format, voice, story, characters, etc. and just go with it. But that also made it intimidating – where do I even start?

For my first entry here, I picked “What a character wearing something red is thinking.”

Happy reading! I look forward to your feedback.

Shallow focus photography of red leafed tree
Photo by Daniel Kim on Unsplash

Red lipstick to match the red dress. Or is this too red? Or is my dress too red? Is this even a first-date dress?

I’m already running behind, and the rest of my wardrobe is either athleisure or jeans. Except for that section in the closet full of lingerie that I haven’t touched in two years… What about lingerie, jeans and a blazer? I’m pretty sure I saw an Instagram post with a woman wearing something like that. If I was going to go back into that section of the closet, today would be a good day for it.

The red dress goes. Lucky that I picked out the shoes last night, otherwise I’d be leaving a whole hour late.

My first date with Linda was at a karaoke bar, a desperate attempt to get the beautiful blond woman to give me the time of day. She always said I was the only person who vehemently said she was blonde, and everyone else said she had light brown hair. But her hair was what attracted me to her immediately, the way it was brown when she turned one way, but had a clear blond tinge when she looked at you.

And when she looked at you… it was all over. Her hair looked the way I always wanted mine to look, wavy, messy and full of volume, but not greasy. She wore combat boots a year or two ahead of everyone else because of her obsession with British Vogue and their fashion blog. She would often pair the combat boots with a leather jacket, fitted but loose, and yet she never looked like a biker.

So, when she said that she’d go out with me only if we went to a karaoke bar, I would have crawled there if I could find out more about her. She could have been straight and out to lead me on and break my heart, but I did not care.

That was the last first date I went on, and I would gladly relive the embarrassment of singing “Livin’ on a Prayer” twice, off key and sober, rather than go out for a drink with Kasey.

Kasey with a K. From her name alone, I knew we wouldn’t have that much in common, but I needed to rip the bandaid off, and Kasey is pretty enough. Linda said that she had been given the Spanish word for “beautiful” as a name, so she would remember that every time she didn’t feel like putting in any effort into her appearance.

Linda was “linda” in more than just her appearance. She had a very loud voice and a laugh that startled children, but she was so tender, soft and kind. I never deluded myself into thinking she never had an unkind word to say about anyone (she always had choice words for bad drivers), but she was always kind with those she loved.

We got married two years after the karaoke first date, and she died three years after. Uterine cancer. A woman who didn’t want kids gets the option taken away and dies for good measure. And she took half my life with her.

What must Kasey have to offer? Will she giggle at my terrible dad jokes? Will she eat the olive from my martinis? Will she cry at ASPCA commercials but laugh hysterically at videos of babies getting scared by loud noises?

With my hand on the front doorknob, I think how bad it’d look on me if I told Kasey now I couldn’t make it, provide some generic excuse. Maybe I’m stuck at work. But she knows I’m a freelance writer – how many emergencies would I have?

But I think of Linda as I open the door and take a step out. Red was her favorite color, so she’ll be with me all night, hopefully whispering her rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer” in my ear.

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