I almost didn’t share this flash fic because it is not my best. In fact, it is probably one of the angriest, sappiest, most emotion-driven things I’ve ever written.
I took my feelings and confusions about jealousy (not romance-related) and dropped them into a love triangle story; how could it possibly get melodramatic?
// Sense of Red //
What was the threat of ten years in prison compared to love? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. At least, ten years was what Riley figured he would be sentenced to if he shredded the two paintings hanging on the museum wall. Five years a piece.
But then, this wasn’t love.
This was knowing that Jacob would propose to Elena in just one hour in front of these exact paintings, a Monet and a Van Gogh. And Riley wouldn’t give a rip about Jacob and Elena kissing and crying and celebrating their engagement. He wouldn’t. Not even a rip.
It’d been what?—four years since he and Elena had broken it off? He was over it. So far over it.
And Jacob was his best friend, had been since they were first paired as chemistry lab partners. Jacob’s logical brain had saved Riley’s flagging math and science grades while Riley’s poetic guidance was the salvation for Jacob’s art appreciation class. From then on, it was the two of them back-to-back against the world. Not to mention that Jacob had asked Riley at least ten different times if he was okay with him dating Elena, had triple-checked that Riley wasn’t harboring any lingering feelings for her, and Riley had said “no” every time.
Yet whenever he saw them together, something molten shot through his veins, and he swore his bones were melting under the heat.
Because while Jacob couldn’t tell the Van Gogh from the Monet if they slapped him in the face, Elena and Riley had debated and marveled and shared so much over every exhibit, driving five hours to see a Raphael in person, pouring over every detail and every theory behind each piece of art.
Because he could still see her dark, rich eyes inches from his own and taste the breaths they shared after a kiss, could still smell the salt from her joyful tears when he sold his first painting. Ever this heady desire, this understanding of what fueled the greatest of the artists and romantics because it ran through him whenever he was with her.
Because he’d spent the last four years saying things with his lips that he didn’t believe for one second in his heart. Four years should have been enough to get over it, to move past it, but it wasn’t.
So before he did something worth prison, he would go home to his lonely little apartment and paint something to deal with all that pulsed through him. Something with lots of angry color. Something that captured the desire to punch Jacob, kiss Elena, take a knife to the most beautiful art on the planet, and burn the whole place to the ground. Something to help him deal with this sense of red.
The Monet and the Van Gogh would be left unscathed, and Jacob and Elena would never know of anything besides how very, very happy he was for them because they were both far too dear for anything else.
I wrote this flash fiction over a year ago, and since then, I’ve learned a lot about flash fiction, writing, and life.
I am a deeply jealous person (which apparently surprises most people?), and I wrote Sense of Red at a time when my jealousy was flaring especially high. On top of all the emotional wreckage I was sorting through, I also tried to figure out if my jealousy was wrong, or if it was an emotion to teach me something of God’s jealousy.
After much prayer, study, and meditation, I came to realize that, no, jealousy is not inherently wrong. And, yes, it’s given me some insight into my jealous God. However, jealousy is powerfully tied with anger, and I, in my fallen human nature, am not pure and infallible like my jealous God is.
Jealousy in fallen people treads a dangerous and thin line, easily stemming from and crossing over into envy, idolatry, and pride. Someday I may write a more extensive post about the red of jealousy and the green of envy, but this will do for now.
Writing Sense of Red was like therapy. It helped me process my extremely volatile emotions instead of my emotions processing me.
May God use your own writing to help you grow.