Logo, MacQueen's Quinterly
Listed at Duotrope
MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 22: 4 Feb. 2024
Microfiction: 302 words
By Mikki Aronoff


—After Red Evening by Alvar Jonson*

He calls me Red, as red is what I paint. Sunsets, barns, blood of an ox, strawberries. Red for the screams only the cedars hear. Red for the wool I wear when I scrub my brushes outside.

In the beginning, I felt shy hoisting my body onto his bed. I still fret about the gnarl of me, the grunt and moan of my dis-ease. The yawps and squalls I make when I move! I can’t help it. But he is not without consideration and carries me every evening into our chamber.

He calls me Red because of my swollen knuckles at the end of painting’s day. But he is not without kindness. After dinner, he massages my hands with balm, coos to me in his first language. Röd, Röd, Röd, deep in his throat.

He calls me Red because of my temper, tells me it stings like fire ants, bites like radishes. But he is not without charity, as he smiles his words. “There is never enough salve for my joints,” I reply. I don’t like to complain, but I can’t help it. But he is not without compassion. He distracts me, makes up stories about my paintings, ribs me for all the cinnabar and canvas I use. “You only want me for my thick auburn curls,” he teases.

Every day my hands do my work, and his heart listens. He beams pride at the new art I hang on the walls each night, tells me we don’t need a fire for the heat of my work.

“But, Red,” he sometimes asks, “why?

“Red,” I say, for I call him that, too, “I can’t help it. My heart pumps, my blood runs.” I lean closer, whisper in the shell of his ear. “I must obey.”



* Red Evening (oil on canvas, 1960s) by Swedish painter Alvar Jonson (1914-1985) may be viewed at WorldAntique.Net (link retrieved on 7 January 2024):

Mikki Aronoff’s
Issue 22 (February 2024)

work appears in 100 word story, Atlas and Alice, Bending Genres, Gone Lawn, HAD, jmww, New World Writing, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Milk Candy Review, Mslexia, The Citron Review, The Disappointed Housewife, The Dribble Drabble Review, The Offing, Tiny Molecules, trampset, and elsewhere. She’s received nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, Best American Short Stories, and Best Microfiction.

Copyright © 2019-2024 by MacQueen’s Quinterly and by those whose works appear here.
Logo and website designed and built by Clare MacQueen; copyrighted © 2019-2024.
⚡   Please report broken links to: MacQuinterly [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡

At MacQ, we take your privacy seriously. We do not collect, sell, rent, or exchange your name and email address, or any other information about you, to third parties for marketing purposes. When you contact us, we will use your name and email address only in order to respond to your questions, comments, etc.