Seeing Red

We continue our series of posting examples of works from our talented members. We hope you enjoy them, and we invite you to leave comments or share with friends. 

This week’s story is from Kim Vernon.

Seeing Red

It was the kind of steamy morning which promised to work itself into a record-breaking summer day. My momma was in the kitchen putting up peas. Since we kids were no help whatsoever, we’d been banished to the yard. I’m sure I’d been instructed to watch my brother. I always was. I had the radio out on the back porch, its cord snaked through the window. I was reading a paperback copy of Stephen King’s Carrie that I had almost finished. Jamie was working on his bike, as uncool younger brothers were always doing.

“I’m gonna paint my bike. It’ll look brand new.”

“You don’t know how to paint a bike. Now, shhhhh. I’m busy.”

“There’s some paint in the shed. I’m gonna use it. Dad won’t care.”


“I think it’s red. That’ll be cool.”


About that time, a good song came on the radio. I turned up the volume and went back to my book. Carrie was showing those hateful kids they’d messed with the wrong girl.

Phhhhhhhhhtt. I couldn’t identify the sound, but it was immediately drowned out by my brother’s scream.


“What now?” I muttered, putting my book down. That’s when everything started happening really fast.

“Momma!” Jamie’s voice was garbled as he staggered to the back door and pounded on it.

I must have seen him at the same time Momma did. I heard her screams filling the air before I could even open my mouth to join in.

His face and arms were covered with red, and it was quickly running down and turning his neck and shirt red as well. He gestured blindly, reaching out in every direction. He looked like I imagine Carrie had looked when the bucket of pig blood dumped from the rafters.

“What happened? What happened?” My mother screamed, though I’m not sure which one of us she was asking. She began trying to wipe his face, searching for the gaping wound that must surely be there somewhere.

“I can’t see!” Jamie was trying to spit to clear his mouth, but it sounded like it wasn’t working. I was pretty sure he was dying. From the sound of Momma’s voice, she was pretty sure of it, too.

The strange sound I’d heard earlier continued, though fainter now. I looked around, trying to find the source, but mostly just trying to look anywhere except at my blood-drenched brother. There on the ground beside the porch lay the still-spewing can of red spray paint. Beside it, there was the screwdriver he had used to try to clear the stopped-up nozzle. It slowly dawned on me. He hadn’t actually severed an artery or crushed his skull. He wasn’t really covered in blood.

“It’s paint! Momma, it’s paint!” I shouted.

It took a minute for my words to sink in and for her to stop screaming. Jamie was nodding and trying to wipe his face enough to see.

“It’s paint? Really?” She sobbed and collapsed onto the porch step. Her crying changed to laughter, though it sounded only slightly less hysterical.

It took a while for us all to be sure he wasn’t going to be permanently injured or blind. And it took even longer before he stopped hitting me when I called him Carrie.

Kim Vernon
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