Very Peri

Andy Miles 4th February 2024


 “Where there’s life there’s hope”

This story is the third in a series. The first two were also for Flash Fiction February, ‘The Impossible Colour’ in 2022 and ‘A Portrait of Peri’ in 2023.

Art and life come in many forms. I felt I had perfected both in my painting, Very Peri, of my late wife. The image of her was beautiful and disturbing to look at. The way it shifted and moved, screaming at me in silence as that mysterious colour I named after her shimmered on her dress. I knew she was still alive in that picture. Since completing that painting my life took a somewhat dramatic downturn. I had lost my job at the University and had not bothered to get another and now, with my funds all but exhausted I was all alone, except for Peri.

I took a little of my leftover coin and stepped out into the warm spring evening. Heading to the less salubrious part of town to obtain something to free my mind from the monotonous grind of daily life I took a wrong turn and found myself in streets I did not know.

The sun was now setting and a slight breeze was cooling against my face and through the tears in the clothes I was wearing. The streets were silent, the atmosphere was becoming oppressive and I wondered if a spring storm was on the way. Then something flashed in the corner of my eye, there it was again, the same thing I had seen many months ago on that frosty December night. I still cannot describe it, the whispy feline grace the colour moved with, the benevolent intelligence it exuded as it curled around my legs. Then it swept away and I thought it gestured to me to follow. I laughed at myself, this must be the drugs I had purchased until I felt the money bag on my belt and realised I had not obtained them yet.

The Impossible Colour led me through the alleys and dark passages until it coiled around itself at an opening to a small square. Standing there, alone, was a young woman. I almost cried out, it was Peri! No, it was someone very like her. The same hair, similar body shape and the face, well they could have been sisters. I thought of the agonising look in my painting of Peri and it struck me, where there is life, there is hope.

I had almost forgotten the strange misty colour until it oozed along the ground and around the woman’s feet, she did not notice it. Even with my lack of concern for my health, I retained my strength and was a good foot taller than her. I do not remember how I got her back to the house and into the room with Peri. I took out my paints and brushes and worked on the woman’s face, manipulating it until it looked just like Peri. She was shorter than Peri, and that just would not do. Restraining her and making sure she could not make a sound I retired to my bed, pondering what I could do about the difference in height between my love and this woman.

It was obvious really, she just needed longer legs. Tonight I will find some. The Colour is with me all the time now, it will lead me to the right person to give them to me. For the first time since I finished the painting, Peri is smiling.