Kaleidoscope Shades | Angelique Woodruff

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Tiny fingers patting her cheeks.

Little toes cold against her own.

And a squeaky voice, clambering up beside her ear, pushing paper into her face. “I made you a pitcher!”

The days were gray and the nights were navy, a pool seeping into her bones and compressing her lungs. Tears fell because words could not, exhaustion made eating too much and bathing a forgotten past time. The guilt of it all, because she could not fight through what immersed her, was plum. Like bruises. Like storming skies. Like the witching hour, when the sound of her thoughts was too much.

But the tiny body lying on hers? The giggles and the cuddles and the divine peace that settled in when they read together?

These were yellow. Nala was yellow.

“Hey Nala-roo, Mommy’s not feeling good today. Let’s go eat our lunch okay? We can come check on her later-” Cyrus was orange. They’d been married for seven years, and still he turned up in the most unexpected ways. He knew, somehow, when she needed quiet. He was blood orange then, dependable and rich. And then, when washing her hair was a heavy thing and her limbs were frozen, there was the bright tangerine. Bringing her plates of things easy on a queasy stomach. Brushing a warm kiss against her temple.

Liv herself had been red, always. Crimson and extreme. Her love for him was like cinnamon and her pain was a rust that bled into wine. She could be coy and a handful of cherries he loved to nibble on. Her eyes had been red-rimmed and her nose like a fire engine in the frigid air when he got down on one knee.

And then three years after that, here came the sun, rising on a day like no other.

“But I wanna show mommy my picture!”

“I know sweetie. But we can do that after.”


Her little girl was a bright, bursting thing. Nala’s laughter was like the sunshine’s warmth pressing into you during the summer. It came from deep down in her belly, her round cheeks scrunching as something amused her. The little smooches good night, the sleepy arms around Liv’s neck in the morning were the same golden as fresh bread.

“Give her a kiss and let’s go eat.”

And on days like this one, when her eyes saw only charcoal and sepia, Nala’s refusal to give up on her mother or let her drown was whipped butter. Yellow’s palest shade, there if you were to squint, rich for a reason you could not name.

A lump under the covers and then a sticky little mouth kissing her cheek. The dim bulb strengthened. Liv’s arms encircled the small body, pet thick dark curls.

“Do you feel better now mommy?”

The charcoal was fading, more mist. Liv was teetering and tired. It wasn’t perfect. But her heart warmed.

“Nala, will you help mommy paint her toes?”

“Can we?!”

“Mmhm. What color should mommy do?”

Nala beamed.


I’m 27, drink too much tea and trying to train my dog and rabbit to be ghost writers for me. When not working my 2 jobs I enjoy knitting, crying over fictional characters and short walks on the beach

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