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General

The buildings all look the same. Tall oblong edifices with multiple eyes gleaming in the midday sun, like robotic caterpillars stretching towards the sky.

Grey.

Not that I would know.

From the time of birth all I’ve seen is grey. All anyone sees is grey.

Not that we would know.

We’re told this is what we see, variants of monochromatic grey. 

Once when I was eight I swore I saw what the ancients refer to as Luminosity. My teacher dismissed me to the principal's office for disrupting the class as I yelled repeatedly looking down at my pencil “I can see! I can see it...it’s….it’s not grey!”

Of course once in the office the Principle demanded to know how I was so certain of what I saw. I couldn’t tell him, couldn’t put into words what my eyes were experiencing. Then my parents arrived with the same fixation, just as demanding. Only my Mother had a hint of hesitation in her eyes. They were told to keep my hysteria secret or there would be consequences. 

Chalked up to the imaginings of a child I was dismissed and I kept the knowledge of what I experienced hidden. And when at the age of twenty three I beheld a blinding white light with tinges of substance that gave a feeling of warmth surrounding the girl I would fall in love with I also kept that a secret. I didn’t even tell her.

 Until now.

“Henry please take off your shoes at the door,” Emma sighs while rubbing her belly. “I just mopped today and you know how hard that is for me at the moment.”

Backtracking sheepishly to leave my shoes by the entrance to our home I smile as I raise the paper bag in my hand, “I picked up your favorite.”

She raises an eyebrow till the smell wafts her direction and a smile spreads across her face. “Hmm thank you my darling. I crave Thai food 24/7 right now.” She plops down at our dining room table with another sigh.

“How’s my little one?” I ask as I grab dishes from the kitchen. 

“She’s been active today. Oh there she goes again. Think she will be a dancer. Here-” Emma reaches her hand for mine and I move towards her.

Bending down I attentively watch for any hint of motion from my daughter, my hand on my wife’s belly. But it’s quiet. We wait a moment. But quiet still.

Looking at Emma I take in her lovely eyes, her cute nose, her generous mouth. I’m still as in love with her as I was five years ago when we met in college.

“What?” she asks, her eyebrows raising again.

“You’re beautiful, you know that?”

She harrumphs as my gaze continues to take her in, and it’s then I see it, a softness on her cheeks, a fleck of something in her eye.

I blink, not convinced. But then there it is again, only this time on those gorgeous lips. 

“Henry what is it? Why are you looking at me like that?”

I can feel it rising then, that panic I felt as a boy when no one believed what I witnessed, imaginings, make belief, and my Mother warning me to keep it all secret. But that was then, and now as an adult….Emma is different I tell myself. She has to be, she’s the love of my life.

“I see…” I choke on my words unable to continue.

“You see what?” She responds, her eyebrows drawn together, those beautiful red lips pursed.

Red.

“Red. Your lips are red. And...and so are-”

“Henry are you feeling ok?” She looks at me with concern while holding her palm to my forehead “You’re mumbling gibberish. What is this thing you’re saying? Red?”

It’s becoming clearer now, all of a sudden Emma’s skin takes on a dimension it didn’t have a moment before. And looking around, eyes darting frantically I realize everything is suddenly changing, seemingly shifting and moving, but in reality everything is simply appearing differently.

No more grey.

And in its place the feeling of warmth. 

“Henry! What is it!? You’re worrying me!” Emma grasps my face with both her hands causing me to focus on her.

“I… I see…” As the words fail me just then our baby kicks. “I see Luminosity.” 

The kicking heightens as Emma lets out a “Oomph” and brings her hands to her belly. “Ok little one settle down.”

I move my hand encouragingly over what I imagine are my daughter’s feet, “You understand me little one?” 

Another kick in response. 

It all comes spilling out then, all I had seen from a child regarding what is known as the myth of Luminosity. Emma listened attentively over spoonfuls of curry. She didn’t question, just listened. 

I was still talking as we later made our way to bed, her body cocooned comfortably against mine, pregnancy pillow wedged in place. 

“Henry I believe you darling, you must know I believe you.” She says as she turns her face towards mine, leaving a gentle kiss goodnight. “But what is the word Red you keep using?”

“My Mother taught it to me. It’s the only ancient word she uttered before she died.”

With my hand on her belly as she drifts off to sleep I can feel our baby girl moving once again.

I’m going to make the world better for you my daughter. Better than the one I entered. 

~*~

Staring up at those ghostly hollow skyscrapers I determined today would be different. How I didn’t know but today I would do something different. Be someone different. If not for myself then for my daughter.

But the day went on as usual. Same meetings. Same deals. Same small talk. Same innuendos. Same emptiness. 

Same grey. 

Grey.

All grey. No hints of warmth like the night before. 

Drained I made my way home, mournful that the mystical experience hadn’t revealed itself to me a second time. Maybe it was enlightenment that occurred only so many years, meant to be cherished in meager doses, gluttonous in abundance. 

But for the sake of my daughter I hoped. Prayed that it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

“Henry!”

“Yes Emma I know,” I say wearily, backing up towards the front door to remove my shoes. 

“No, Henry listen!”

I look at her then with a frown, why is she gesturing all around like that?

“I see! I see just like you told me last night! Everything! All day I’ve seen!” She says with a beaming smile.

Eyes wide I stare at her, see the joy on her face, and it dawns on me then. She sees it. Like I can. Or did rather.

Going to her I wrap her in an embrace, face against her curly hair and whisper, “I thought it was just me.”

She turns towards me, and I see her eyes suddenly take on a new appearance, causing me to breathe a sigh of relief. I can still see it. The variance, the dimension. Though I’m not sure what to call what I observe in those orbs. 

“Your eyes,” she murmurs with a smile.

“And yours,” I answer, bending down to kiss her softly. 

“What now Henry? Who do we speak to? Who will believe us?”

Leaving quickly I move to the bedroom and dig in the old chest at the foot of our bed to find the children's book my Mother read to me when I was young. And just where I left it in the binding her letter.

“Henry what is it?”

Holding up the letter I sit on the bed and motion for her to join me. 

“My Mother went against my Father’s wishes and nurtured what she saw in me as extraordinary. My gift, she called it. But always in secret, never to be mentioned. When she died she left me this letter with instructions should I ever need them.”

Emma’s eyes go wide, “Should you ever need them? Need what?”

I shrug, “There’s a man, a professor she knew from Ireland. His name and address are listed in this letter. She told me to get in touch with him should I need to regarding... uh…”

“Your gift?”

“Yes that’s how she put it. She said something else though that I just now am realizing.”

She looks at me with a question in her eyes, and then her hands go instinctively to her belly. “It’s regarding our daughter isn’t it?”

I nod, mulling over the words my Mother said to me long ago. “Here read it.”

Emma’s silent as she reads the letter, and she’s silent after as she lets it fall from her grasp to the floor of our bedroom.

“Emma?”

“We have to keep her safe. Henry we have to.”

I nod, thinking about my Mother’s words long ago. She will bring an awakening to the world. She will have your gift tenfold. And she will be in danger because of it.

Shaking my head I grasp my wife’s hands, “I didn’t understand what she meant, I was too young.”

“She’s the reason I can see the Luminosity now?” She says as she glances down at her belly.

“I believe so.”

We sit quietly thinking of our yet unborn daughter, hands entwined.

“That part of your Mother’s letter…she said to look up that professor before it was too late. She warned that the powers that be wouldn’t allow...that they would destroy….”

Her unfinished words linger in the air as I wrap my arms around her. It's possible they already know. “We’ll leave then. We’ll leave tonight.”

“Tonight!?” Alarm fills her eyes, “Why tonight?”

Not being able to explain the urgency I suddenly feel I urge Emma to pack a bag, “Trust me ok?”

After a moment she nods silently and we both get up to pack a few belongings.

We’re almost through when there’s a knock on our front door.

Pausing we both glance at the clock on our bedroom wall. It’s late. Too late for any of our friends or neighbors to be stopping by. 

The knocking intensifies into booming. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, something is off I can feel it.

On impulse I turn to Emma while shoving the letter into her hand, “I want you to leave when I answer the door. Out the back. Take the keys and get safely to the car.”

“But Henry I’m not leaving-”

“Please Emma for her...for Red.” I bend down to kiss my wife's belly as her eyes go wide.

“Henry it’s probably just a neighbor…”, but her words falter and she picks up our suitcase, her eyes telling me the danger I'm sensing is real.

“I’ll meet you in a moment, I promise.”

She squeezes my hand and plants a kiss on my lips before retreating down our hallway and out the back door. 

Moving into our living room I go to open our front door as the incessant pounding continues. 

“Sir we would like a word.”

The two men in suits step inside uninvited. In fact they move without my permission throughout our home, checking every room before returning to the living room.

“Uh how can I help you?”

They motion for me to sit on my own couch and sit across in either arm chair.

“We have it on authority that you have a wife and child living with you. Where are they?”

I arrange my features into a mask of blankness, unfeeling emotion, “Why my wife and I separated a year ago. Just me here. Can I ask you gentlemen what you’re here for?”

Instead of answering they get up to walk around the room. One picks up the picture frame from our wedding day off the mantel. 

“Haven’t been able to bring myself to pack it all up.” I try the lie but it feels false even to my ears and I see the disbelief reflected in the stranger’s face.

Just then the garage door sounds and my eyes betray the alarm I feel as they glance at me before quickly moving towards the front door.

“No!” I lunge towards them intending to block it when I hear a deafening sound followed by a sharp thud that knocks the wind out of me.

Slumping to the floor the room suddenly spirals, and a cold wetness encases my chest. Moving my hand from my torso into my peripheral vision I see a gooey thickness encasing it.

It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust but slowly I see the grey fade and the truth illuminates.

Red.

I see Red.

July 03, 2020 06:25

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2 comments

Amy Lancaster
16:51 Sep 03, 2020

You have a wonderful imagination! That was such an interesting idea and it could be viewed symbolically as well as literally. I'd love to know more about the background setting. Why does no one see in color and is it considered a threat because it is just different, or is there more to it? Well done!

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N. Thorne
02:38 Sep 04, 2020

Thank you for the comment! My imagination keeps me writing :) I have plans to do a follow-up story, which would explore this world more in-depth. If I didn't I'd try and answer the questions for sure! I'll let you know when that comes into being!

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