The Red Crayon by Jack Wallen

The Music Be The Food flash fiction event continues with round two. This time, the song is from a delightful band called Broods. The song is “Freak Of Nature”. Give a listen to the tune and then read the first flash fiction piece, by Jack Wallen.

The Red Crayon

They gave me a red crayon.

It reminded me of the dress you wore the day you died. The waxy smell takes me back to a childhood I’m not sure I ever truly left; a childhood that should have been filled with laughter and hugs. Instead, I had you. It’s not that I regret the life you gave me, nor do I hate you for the swirling, twirling madness that consumed our every waking moment.

This is too hard. I need you to hear me, to be here so I can finally tell you my story.

They gave me a red crayon.

I could use it.

For the first time, the white walls would come in handy. With the dull end of my new best friend, I drew a wide circle on the wall. I remember your face, wide with wonder, always searching for the closet demons, groping ghosts, and the men with nails and wood; your eyes ever darting back and forth, never still…never on me.

I drew those eyes, wild squiggles winding their way toward the blackest pupils I’d ever know. You’ll have to forgive me, this one mistake, as they only gave me one color.


Your mane of hair, shocking scarlet and curly, made me think of fire-born snakes that would hiss my name in the middle of the night to scare me into bed; to sleep, perchance to scream.

The blood-red wax smeared a Robert Smith-like pair of lips below that tiny nose you always said was your best feature. “Men loved my nose,” you were fond of saying. I never understood why that.

Your plastic portrait complete, I carefully placed the crayon on the floor below your face, stared into the wild eyes, and whispered, “Show me how to uncover.”


“Please mother, say you’re happy with my drawing.”

The lips parted slowly and snapped back to their two-dimensional shape.

“Maybe it’s beautiful?” The words spilled from my mouth to mix with warm tears; a sorrow-formed tea I’d consumed for years.

Mother’s eyes blinked and she finally spoke, her voice a perfect rendition of memory. “Come to my side.”

That was it, the invitation I’d so long awaited. This would make me happy, make me finally, and completely, real.

I turned my back to the wall, next to my crayon portrait of Mother, and pressed hard into the white of the padding.


“No one is safe here,” I heard mother speak sweetly; the five words slipped from my brain as a reminder of purest fear.

I pressed harder against the wall until I felt it give. With every ounce of force my broken and bruised body could muster, I insisted myself into Mother’s dimension until I felt the waxen flatness repaint my facade.

“Love made me do crazy things,” Mother whispered into my crayon ear. “I was a freak.”

My lips fought against movement, keeping me from saying the things I so longed to communicate; the words I’d wanted to speak to Mother since I was ten…the last time I held a crayon in my hand.

“We had so much time to kill back then,” Mother said with a misplaced nostalgia. She was so wrong; there was never enough time for the things that mothers and daughters do. My childhood was only ever filled with panic and the pain of love shooting through broken and collapsed veins. Falling into the waxen world helped me to realize everything I’d denied for years.

Again I strained against sealed lips; this time, however, a fissure split the corners until words could be released. I could speak, finally say the words to Mother. I could blame her for my brain, make her understand that I knew all along.

“Your fault.” My voice returned to a girlish pitch, broken and chopped, after so many years of silence.

“Say you’re happy.” Mother’s voice was distant, lost in that same fog of pills and bitter smoke. “You’re a freak of nature,” Mother added.

Something exploded in my two dimensional chest. I could only form a single syllable. “Oh.”

“Let’s play our game. Remember?”

I didn’t. Well, I did; but I didn’t want to. This was all a mistake. Mother should have apologized for making me this way. Why did I ever think she would? I wanted to peel away from the wall. Instead, I screamed, “You’re the freak, Mother. I blame you for my brain.” My cartoonish arm swung up and slammed into my forehead. “In here, it’s all you. You. You. You!” As my fist pummeled the red outline of my face, the scars from long nights danced to the padded floor of the room. With every blow, the memories of youth vanished. I’d been bruised by Mother’s light for long enough. It was time to let go.

“Loving life…” Mother started.

“Don’t say it!” I screamed until my red lips cracked and bled.

“…turned me insane.”

With a maddening roar, I peeled away from the wall, picked up the crayon and covered Mother’s portrait with a more appropriate image.