Sense of Red [a flash fiction with author’s notes]


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?

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// 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.

Author’s Note.

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.

With love,


p.s. – Stars and Soul is now up on Goodreads! Go add it (because I promise those four stories are much better than this one)!! And we’re less than a week until the cover reveal! Eep!

My Dear Future, [an open letter]

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My Dear Future,

I do not know what you hold. You are the great unknown. You strike fear into my heart. I lose sleep. I bite my fingernails to nothing.

People ask me questions about you. I hate it when they do because then I must admit that I simply do not know you, my own dearest, daunting Future.

You are the next three days.

You are the next three months.

You are the next three years.

You are the next three decades.

Oh, my dear Future. I see so many painful inevitabilities. I see in you unexpected death, broken relationships, rejections, heartache, tears, confusion, new failings, and goodbyes that will break me.

And what is still more frightening is the knowledge that you, my dear Future, quickly become my Present. In what seems like a single pulse of my heart, tomorrow will become today, and next year will become this year.

I will make goals that I will not meet. I will let relationships dissolve. I will watch people I once knew grow and change from a distance. I will make promises only to break them. I will start days with joy and singing and end them with silence.

But I try to put on a smile when it comes to you, my dear Future. I make my plans, answer the questions that just won’t stop, and pretend I know what this whole thing is about.

I don’t know how to talk about you, my fear-drenched Future. I don’t know how to ask for help, am terrified to show weakness, for it seems that once people realize just how much I don’t know, there will be blood in the water. I fear rumors and raised-eyebrows and being seen for what I really am.

But now I see how I’ve gotten this all so wrong. I see that I’ve been following the wrong stars in my thinking. It is, as it turns out, ridiculously simple (but then I am often ridiculously slow).

Here it is: you, my dear Future, are not about me.

My Savior King is the centerpiece, the end of you, the sum of you, my dear Future.

And the fear I have for you, my dear Future, is treason. The fear I have for you—the kind that changes the way I think and make decisions all on an axis of self—should not belong to you. My Savior King is the only One with a rightful claim to my fear, my attention, my decision-making—all on an axis of Jesus.

In so many ways, you are unknown, my dear Future. Unknown to me. But not to my Savior King. And when I am afraid, I can trust in him, can remember who he is. Because my Savior King is the Most High God, the Lord of hosts, King Jesus.

And you, oh Future, hold only my good and his glory.

One day, someday in you, my dear Future, he will return in his glory, and on that day, he will be known as God and King in all the earth.

That day seems so far off, but it is the most real thing I know of you, my dear Future. And it is that one known, promised day that must define every breath drawn into my lungs.

The goals for my near future—the days leading up to my Savior King’s return—are all at once fuzzy and in sharp focus: love God; love people; worship; make disciples; magnify my Maker.

These are my next three days.

These are my next three months.

These are my next three decades.

These are the rest of my life.

And, no, my dear Future, I don’t know what that will always look like—where or with whom. And, yes, I know I will make many mistakes. But I am by no means significant enough or powerful enough to derail the plans of my Savior King.

And when the goodbyes break me, he will lift my head. And when I fail in new ways and all the old ways too, he will pick me up and remind me that his grace covers me. And when relationships fall apart, he will tell me that love covers all offenses.

And, yes, dear Future, I am still afraid of you, but my Savior King does not condemn me for even this treason.

Instead, every day, bit by bit, he calls me to grow more and more confident in him. Every day he gives me what I need to walk on water until one day I will look at you, my dear Future, with no fear or dread. I will be treasonous no more for I will remember always that the greatness of my Savior King knows no equal.

My dear Future, my hopes and dreams live in you.

So I will build my life—this short existence on this pale blue dot—upon the Cornerstone. And he—not I—will bring to pass things more splendid than I can imagine, treasures of silver and gold that will echo into the eternity I spend with him.

My dear Future, I do not know most of what you hold, but that is okay.

With love,