Burnt Clementine


It was raining outside and so Samuel really had no reason to complain about painting the living room Victorian Eggshell. It was more the way it was thrust upon him that made him uncomfortable. He had no particular plans, it’s true, but wasn’t that the whole point of Sunday mornings?

He was thinking of everything else he could be doing as he sank the roller into the tray and watched it grow thick with the carefully selected shade of off-white. He pushed the roller back and forth in the tray twice, gave it three bangs at the top to shake off the excess paint, and then lifted it to the wall. He caught a drip on his W. He learnt to roll in a W pattern watching the home reno network.

Peta was in the top corner over the fireplace, painting the edges with a brush by hand.
– I’ve always hated this colour, Peta said, looking down from the ladder. – Don’t let it drip on the floor. You let some drip on the floor.

She pointed to the drip with her brush. Samuel rested the roller on the tray, grabbed a square of his father-in-law’s old flannelette pyjamas, and wiped up the offending drop with long, effective fingers. He sighed, then picked up the roller, pushed it back and forth in the tray twice, gave it three bangs at the top, and recommenced his W’s.

In Samuel’s memory Peta had loved the colour when they painted it over a decade before. Her spirits were so high that day she danced around like a pixie, leaping across the room, and then leaping on top of him later that night after they moved the mattress into the living room so they could make love in the reflected haze of Burnt Clementine, sucking in mouthfuls of toxic molecules through tight breaths.

He wanted to remind her of how she’d loved the terracotta tones then and of that mutual preoccupation with synchronised gasping, but he thought about it for a beat too long and when he looked up almost all traces of Burnt Clementine were gone.

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