The Red Room

April 27th |  Salvatore Difalco


Maybe the sirens have awoken her. I’m on my second coffee already — haven’t been sleeping well — but even for me it’s too early. My wife sits on the edge of the bed with her head bowed and her hands between her legs, light blue nightgown bunched around her hips, bare feet crossed. The room is almost too small for both of us. During a manic phase a few months back, she slathered thick red swathes of paint on the walls and this crowds the space even further. The aesthetic summons horrific violence, but I choose to tolerate it for the moment. Or maybe I don’t choose so much to tolerate it as resign myself to it.

An orange-and-black striped bathrobe draped around my shoulders clashes with the throbbing red of the room. I can feel the tension. A few minutes pass. My wife sighs, runs a hand through the bleached split ends of her hair. Her nose looks like a green stripe in the morning shadows, her mouth a short beige dash. She asks me to move away from the window. I step aside. Weak gray light streams in and makes the room look even more lurid. Maybe it’s time I insist we repaint the room a normal colour, like one of the many shades of white available: bone, eggshell, alabaster, white dove, paper white, simply white, and Chantilly lace to name a few. Or go with yellow. Yellow can lift a room.

When I was thirteen, I painted my bedroom flat black and hung trippy posters on the walls that fluoresced under the black light I’d installed. Maybe it reflected how I felt inside, a jumble of dark and luminescence. My mother thought I was doing drugs. I just thought my room was cool. I liked spending time in there listening to my Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin records and trying to imagine my future. My father had died of cancer the year before, so my mother didn’t force the issue. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t forced the issue with the red paint. An ectopic pregnancy almost killed my wife last year. She still isn’t right, and things between us aren’t right, but I fear the red room has become the irrevocable expression of our lives together.

1 Comment

  1. Sean Hodgson

    I did comment recently but it got lost. This is very evocative of the sense of despair it captures the mood. I think avoid beige that way would be the nadir of despair. Dramatic bold colours with Floyd or Zeppelin- you don’t need to say anymore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *