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Colors: Flash Fiction by Bernice Holtzman
Gladiators: Flash Fiction by John C. Mannone
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the look of legs: Poem by Meg Baird
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Been Down So Low, It Now Sounds Great: Poem by Bradford Middleton
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Larry, Moe, and Me: Poem by Craig Kirchner
I Live the Life I Chose: Poem by Richelle Slota
Death House: Poem by Richelle Slota
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full of thoughts and hopes: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
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Frown: Poem by Richard Allen Taylor
Why is the Sky Cerulean?: Poem by Richard Allen Taylor
Awakening: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Swirling in the Chaos: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Moira: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
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Moments Before Awakening: Poem by Michael Keshigian
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Bernice Holtzman: Colors

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Art by Bernice Holtzman 2024

Colors

by Bernice Holtzman

 

 

It was the most beautiful day of the year, Johnny thought, as he sat playing in his backyard. He couldn’t remember the sky ever being so blue, with white cotton-puff clouds forming animal shapes against it. The bright yellow sun shone through the branches of the big oak tree in the corner of the yard, turning some of the leaves emerald and lime, while the ones in the shadows were a dark forest green. A warm breeze was blowing, making the glistening lawn look like rippling water, and bathing Johnny in the scent of freshly trimmed grass.

 

The last time Johnny could recall a day this perfect was the day last fall, the day of the family road trip into the mountains. Johnny had sat in the car, face pressed against the half-open window, the wind whipping over his head. The sky had looked turquoise that day, with the mountains a festival of color. His father was at the wheel, the back of his dark-haired head alert as he watched the road; his mother was in the passenger seat beside him, and Johnny had the back seat to himself. His mother’s cinnamon-colored hair blowing in the wind matched the leaves on some of the trees. Every leaf he saw matched something, Johnny thought, the orange ones the color of fire, pinks like candy roses on birthday cakes, and red leaves matching the cars Johnny liked to count whenever he went on long road trips. He had counted twenty red cars so far.

 

Some of the flowers in the backyard were red. There were orange-red geraniums, deep purple-red rose bushes, and ruby-red flowers, big and exotic looking, that Johnny didn’t know the name of. There were tulips that looked like Easter eggs, with their perfect, oval buds colored pale pink, buttery yellow, white, and lavender, and small purple and white striped flowers that reminded Johnny of peppermint candy. With the green grass under him, the blue sky and white clouds above him and the rainbow of flowers all around him, Johnny thought that every color in the world was right here in his backyard.

 

Their car continued along the country road, swirls of autumn color whizzing past them. Two more red cars had passed by. The road narrowed, bringing them closer to the trees on either side of them. Johnny saw a pheasant under one of the trees, his tiny head bobbing on his plump body, his blue, green, and gray feathers in sharp contrast to the pink and gold leaves around him. Johnny laughed and pointed, and his mother’s hair flew around her shoulders, her green eyes bright and happy as she turned to look and laugh with him. Everything seemed to happen together, in flashes of color and sound: his mother’s laughter and screams, the car coming out of nowhere, his father’s pale hands wild on the black wheel, the horn, loud and warped, sparkles of glass like diamonds suspended in air, red speckles on cinnamon, red, gold, and pink hurtling toward them. Then the purest, most brilliant white.

 

Johnny’s mother was calling him inside for dinner. Had he really been in the backyard that long? The day was almost gone. The leaves on the big oak tree were mostly all dark green now, and the lawn had changed from a shimmering sea to a cool, still lake. The remaining sunlight played on his mother’s hair, weaving threads of gold through the cinnamon. Her pretty green eyes shone with love. He remembered those eyes crying, his father’s voice comforting, and pieces of other voices:

“…extensive damage…,”

“…permanently blind…,”

“…so sorry…,”

“…he’s lucky to be alive…,”

 then her voice, pleading, “Are you sure, Doctor, are you sure?”

 



Johnny walked toward his mother, ten steps to the rose bushes, fifteen to the geraniums, twenty to the exotic flowers, thirty to the Easter egg tulips and peppermint candy flowers, and ten more steps to the stairs of his back porch. Johnny stopped at the foot of the porch and turned his face to the sun setting in the sky. The white clouds had turned to silver, and the yellow sun was now a red ball at the bottom of huge splashes of blazing pink, bright purple, and royal blue. Johnny smiled. It was the most wonderful sunset ever.




Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received. She is the Assistant Art Director for Yellow Mama.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2024