Orange and Red


“What the fuck!”

It was always a jarring sound. No matter how quietly or not quietly the door was opened. The office door has always been slighly warped. Opening and closing it always made a scraping sound, a jarring sound. It was flung open that morning.


“What the fuck!”

I shoot up from a dead sleep, instinctively concerned and saying, “What’s wrong? What happened?” In my sleepy stupor all I see is orange and red. I’m facing the window and the sun is pouring in. It hasn’t been up long. That’s the orange. The curtains I hung over the window are red with white flowers. That’s the red. For a moment, before I’m aware of what’s happening, for a split second I notice the colors, orange and red, flooding into the room at dawn, and I think, “Oh, that’s so pretty.” That’s called aesthetic arrest. Seeing a work of art created by the world that makes you stop and admire it no matter what’s going on.


“What the fuck!”

I shoot up, saying, “What’s wrong? What happened?” Something’s wrong. Maybe the house is on fire. Maybe the cats ran away. I feel concern for him. For a moment, I think we’re still together, still on the same team, still a united front. Then I realize I’m the cause of the problem, I’m being yelled at, I’m being told to go fuck myself. I’m being told to go fuck myself while I’m asleep. So I wake up.


“What the fuck!”

“What’s wrong? What happened?”

“What’s this fucked up shit?”

He stands at the foot of my bed, which is a glorified futon. He’s pissed, red faced from fury and booze. He waves his phone in my face. “I have to wake up to this fucked up shit?! Fuck you, Katie!”

Scrap! Slam!

He’s gone. The entire exchange only lasts a few seconds. I’m still propped up on one arm, blinking into the orange and red. “I guess he saw my text,” I think. My head falls back to the pillow and I’m passed out cold. Anti-anxieties are a wonderful thing.

This wasn’t the first time I sent him a text he didn’t like while he was passed out. I did that often, afraid I would back down from confronting him in the morning. Pop off a text and it’s sure to be resolved in the morning, my warped logic told me. Instead, he would just ignore me or be angry that I said anything. He’d walk by me, ignoring me or tell me “I had to wake up to that. Thanks.” And I would back down. But this time, this text was sent for a different reason.

A couple of hours later and it’s 8am. My phone is ringing. I answer it. It’s my friend that I called during the night when I was “hysterical”. She’s with another friend that’s gone through recovery. They offer advice. They both tell me to leave as soon as possible. I’m so exhausted nothing really registers. I fall back asleep.

I wake up to the sound of bottles clinking downstairs. Now it’s ten to noon. I hear the back down open and close. A moment later, cigarette smoke floats in through the open window.

It’s Father’s Day. I text my oldest brother, wishing him a happy father’s day. “Should I tell him what happened?” I wonder. No. He’s too far away to do anything. And I don’t want my family’s help.


I open the door. I’m still groggy from the anti-anxiety pill I took last night. I got them for him months ago before our vacation. He’s scared to fly. But he was more scared to take them.

“What are these?” he had asked.

“Lexapro. A friend at work gave them to me. They’re anti-anxiety pills. I told her you were scared to fly.”

“Never heard of them.”

“Me neither. I’m googling it….oh, that’s weird.”


“They’re also anti-depressants.”

He shoots up from the table. “I’m not taking that!”

“Okay. You don’t have to.”

His reaction was so abhorrent to hearing they were anti-depressants. He reacted like I handed him a straight jacket.


I open the door. The house is quiet. I took a Lexapro at 3:30am.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep and I very much wanted to. I had gone into our, I guess now his, bedroom and got one out of my nightstand, unused and untouched since before our vacation. I took one and went back into the office. I texted my best friend while I looked for places to live. It was probably 5am when I finally fell asleep.

Now it’s noon and I’m creeping through our house. I go into the basement to try and work out. I end up just sitting there and go back upstairs. I hide in the office for the entire day until I have to get ready for work.

He sleeps most of the day. Whenever he walks past me, he ghosts me. Like I’m not even there. As I dress for work, he walks to the shower. He walks right past me in our, his, bedroom, our arms pratically touching and I’m nothing more than a piece of furniture. He looks straight ahead. I’m amazed that someone can just shut themselves off emotionally. Like a faucet. That’s what I get for finally asking for help, for speaking out.

Walking to work, I make a decision. I keep thinking, “I just want to go home.” I walk into work and I see my manager. I tell her, “This is my notice. I’m moving back to Chicago.” She’s almost as surprised as I am.


It’s after 3:30 in the morning. I open the door. Lights are still on everywhere in the house. Our, now his, bedroom door is closed. We rarely close the door. I walk across the hall and open the door quietly. The smell of alcohol fills the room. That’s not rare. He doesn’t drink in the bedroom. The smell of alcohol is only coming from his breath, from his sweat, from his body. The lights are on and the tv is blaring. He’s passed out on the bed. I go to my nightstand and get what I need. I look over at him and realize his eyes are open. He’s breathing and his eyes are almost shut, but they’re cracked open. I lean in to make sure I’m seeing it correctly. I am. I shake my head and think, “What the fuck.”

I go downstairs and every light is on. The white cat runs up to me meowing. I give him treats. He doesn’t care, which is unusual. He keeps running to the back door. I look outside onto the porch and see the orange cat meowing and scrapping at the door. I open the door and he scurries in. The white one calms down. He’s probably been locked out for over an hour.

I see that the full bottle of Jameson I slid over the counter to him hours before, saying, “I bet you’ve been wanting to drink this this whole time you’ve been breaking up with me,” and that he caught and instantly poured himself a drink, before I escaped to the office, has a significant amount missing. Remembering the restraining order threat, I think, “Everything that happens in this house is being documented.”

I text to him, “While you were passed out with the tv and lights on and your eyes cracked open, Amsterdam was locked outside.”

I hit send. I take the Lexapro, I text my best friend, I look for apartments and I fall asleep.


“What the fuck!”

“What’s wrong? What happened?”

“What’s this fucked up shit? I have to wake up to this fucked up shit? Fuck you, Katie!”

Scrap! Slam!

The fucked up shit I told him was the truth.

Orange and red. That light was so pretty.

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