Volume 15 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2023

Cheryl Snell


Everything bleeds, I said to my husband, thinking of the clerk at the paint store and his broken heart. I’m the one who broke it but did not have the skills to mend it. I would have to find another way to punish myself.

So, I painted all the walls in the house off-white. I slipcovered the couch and chairs in that color called oyster-shell, and traded in my car for one in a champagne color. My hair was already dirty blonde so I just let it be. With my daytime world all in beige, my dreams quickly faded to black and white, and then to gray.

I tried to love my monochrome life. But one night, looking up from my dinner of skinless chicken and steamed white rice, I whispered, “No.” My husband raised an eyebrow but not high enough for me to give him an explanation. I made a secret plan to restore color to my dreams.

I searched high and low, but only found the brokenhearted paint-store clerk, dirt mounded around him, standing in a hole he had dug. His hands were rummaging through a stained canvas bag of smuggled paint samples from the store. He didn’t see me see him as he scooped up a rainbow of colors.

I watched him rub them all over his bare skin. When every inch of him had been ruined with stain, he tossed the rest into the air and let my lost colors rain over his body.

He took my breath away, the way he rose into the moonlight, our colors bleeding through.

Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and the novels of her Bombay Trilogy. Her latest title is a series called Intricate Things in their Fringed Peripheries. Most recently her writing has appeared in Gone Lawn, Ilanot Review, Cafe Irreal, Pure Slush, Literary Yard, and New World Writing. A classical pianist, she lives in Maryland with her husband, a mathematical engineer.