Paint it Red

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Paint it Red Page 1

by Melody Leigh

Paint it Red

  By Melody Leigh

  Copyright 2016 Melody Leigh

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy. Thank you for your support.

  Front Cover, Image Notes

  Base image used in the cover for Paint it Red found in the Public Domain on Pixabay, by user tookapic. Image was later edited for use in this book.

  Special Thanks

  To my amazing friend Caty, who took my sad attempt at a cover and turned it into the work of art it now is. You are beyond wonderful and supportive and I'll be forever grateful for the time and effort you've given me.

  Table of Contents


  Paint it Red

  About the Author

  Padrik Myszka hated his wife.

  Really, really hated her.

  Sometimes, deep in the night, when the doors were closed and the lights were off and his wife was sleeping soundly down the hall, he’d step outside onto the porch and stare up at the stars, as if to ask them where the last ten years had gone and beg them to take him back.

  But he’d sit there, knees on wood and hands clasped before him, praying, and nothing would change. An hour would pass, a day, a month, and every day he still woke up to the sound of Mira in the kitchen, cooking a meal that would taste of ash at the first insult.

  Then, one night, when Padrik grew tired of the ache in his knees and the mutters of his own futile cries, he made a decision. He stood up, cursed the stars for rejecting him, and crept back inside the house, heading for his office.

  Shutting the door slowly, as to not make a sound, he eased the doorknob into place and let go only once he heard the click of the lock.

  He fumbled around in the dark, opening the desk drawers and feeling blindly for a set of matches. They’d never had a light switch installed, something he and Mira had argued about nearly nine years ago, back when they first moved in.

  Padrik remembered it clearly—it had been their first fight, the day they brought the loading van and came to move everything inside. Mira had gone to explore the house, and came down in a fury when she’d found his office never had the lights installed, as Padrik had promised (half-heartedly, he might add). But it was his office, so what business of it was hers? There was something about having to light the candles, to be stripped down to pen and paper and the bare necessities, which drew him to the room.

  It was another time in his little office, another world, and Padrik would have it stay that way. Thinking back on it now, it might have been the match that lit their marriage on a steady downward trail from “white picket fence couple” to “absolute disaster,” but Padrik was done looking back. All that was left to do was wait for the inevitable explosion.

  Finally, his hand grasped the matchbox, and he slid it open, striking a match against the side and lighting the series of candles that decorated his desk. Pulling the chair out, he sat down and reached for an empty journal cast aside near the edge of the desk. A present from Mira, he’d tossed it the same night she gave it to him. Padrik wasn’t a writer, so what the hell did he need a journal for?

  But now, in the low light of the flames and the quiet of his office, he relished the possession. This was going to be his escape.

  With the click of a pen, he pressed ink to paper and began to write. His dreams, his regrets—everything that had gone right in his life and everything that had gone wrong became immortalized in his little book.

  Most of all, he wrote about Mira. How much he hated her. How much he’d loved her.

  How much he wished she were gone.

  * * *

  That night, when Padrik went to sleep, he had his first dream.

  He imagined lying next to Mira in bed, watching her breathe in and out as she drifted away in dreamland. At the start, it felt like any other night. Him, lying awake, as she slept beside him. He always went to bed far after Mira was already asleep, and she would be up hours before he cracked his eyes open again.

  He touched her face, brushed her hair back, and followed the steady up-and-down of her chest with his eyes. Then, as if triggered by the thought of her sleeping peacefully each night, while he tossed and turned in misery, an overwhelming urge came over him. A thought he couldn't reason away.

  He inched his hands up, slow, all the way to her neck, until they'd wrapped around her soft skin. He held himself there, for a moment, holding her life in his hands.

  And then he squeezed.

  Mira's eyes shot open, and she trashed around under the sheets, grabbing his arms and digging her nails into his flesh. He struggled with her for what felt like hours, squeezing tighter and tighter as she ripped and tore at him.

  It was only when she reached up and scratched at his face that he truly realized what he was doing. His hand followed hers, up to his cheek, and he touched the mark she'd left alongside the wetness on his face. Blood? Or tears?

  And then he woke up.

  * * *

  Weeks later, Padrik found himself across from Mira at their half-used dinner table. It was one of the few places they remained in each other’s company for an extended period of time, and the only place they spoke of anything beyond small talk and half-baked insults.

  Their forks scratched against their plates, and Padrik appreciated the silence that had fallen as they ate. He really just wanted to get back upstairs, return to his journal, and forget Mira was even there.

  Of course, with Mira, nothing was ever easy.

  “How do you like it?”

  Padrik coughed, his fork left hanging halfway to his mouth.


  “Is the food good?”

  “Oh. Yeah, it’s okay.” Mira’s neutral expression dipped into a frown. Wrong answer. “I mean—it’s fine. Good. It’s good.” Padrik brought the fork all the way and took an exaggerated bite, ‘mmm’-ing as it went down. “Great, even.”

  In reality, no, it really wasn’t that good. The meatloaf was burned on the side and his broccoli was too chewy. But it’s not like he was going to tell her that.

  “How can I get better if you don’t tell me what I did wrong?”

  “It’s good. Really.”

  “The squirrel’s nest in your cheek would say otherwise. Why are you lying to me about this? It’s food. I’m not going to get mad.”

  Padrik had to hold in a snort. Mira said that now, but if he told her she’d left it in the oven too long, or that the potatoes had those tiny bumps he didn’t like, or that she’d cooked the broccoli al dente style, which she knew he hated—

  “Seriously, those are your complaints?”

  —Wait, had he said that all out loud?

  “You’ve been making that nasty scrunched up face every time you take a bite because the food is a little chewy? For God’s sake, Padrik—”

  Padrik let his fork fall back against his plate.

  “This is why I didn’t say anything! I don’t want to fight.”

  “I’m not fighting—”

  “Yes, you are! I don’t want to nitpick every little thing. The food’s fine.” He pushed his plate aside, the legs of the chair scratching against the wooden floor as he stood up. “I don’t care. I’m going upstairs.”

  Mira threw her arms into the air, as if to say, “Fine! Leave!” And a moment later, she said just that. Padrik stormed off into the kitchen for the briefest second and returned, beer in hand, and pounded up the stairs. Mira slumped over, head in hands. In the silence, she reflected on their fight, and with no husband left to look at, glanced around the room.

  The old,
dated wallpaper on the walls caught her eye, and she stood up, walking around the room, running her hands against the faded paper as she made her rounds.

  “We just need a change of pace,” she said to herself. “We should repaint the walls.”

  * * *

  In the safety of his office, Padrik hunched over, scribbling mercilessly in his journal.

  Another fight, he wrote. About something as stupid as overcooked food. I’m sick of this. I’m sick of fighting all the time. I’m surprised she didn’t use it as an excuse to bring up job-hunting again. ‘If only you had a job I could buy better ingredients.’ Shut up, Mira.

  ‘Go to the store, you’re not doing anything.’ ‘No, he’s not working, he can come over and do it for you.’ ‘You can pick the restaurant when you can pay the bill.’

  When was the last time they’d even gone out to a restaurant together? Gone out anywhere? Padrik tried to think on it, but came up empty.

  Empty, he etched onto the paper is big, bold letters. That’s what our lives are. I want to start over. I want to be rid of her.

  I… I had another dream last night. I beat her over the head this time. Wanted to wipe that smirk off her face. She looked surprised for a second, and then it happened. A trail of blood came creeping down from her forehead, and she fell to the floor.

  She was dead.

  This is the third dream I’ve had, but it’s the first one where she’s actually died.

  The last ‘d’ trailed off in a jerked line at the sound of footsteps by the door and a creaking noise in the hall. Padrik stiffened, hunched over his journal, and held his breath.

  There was a heavy sigh, and after a tense pause, the footsteps continued down the hall.

  They scared me a bit at first. The dreams. But now… now they’re all I look forward to. Sometimes…

  Padrik closed the journal, leaving his hand on the front cover. He traced over the words ‘To Padrik, Love Mira’ written in the corner and took a breath, and then another, and then another. He had to be sure.

  He opened the book again, his pen just a bare inch above paper. His mind swam with thoughts and regrets and promises and dreams until he touched the pen to paper and it all became clear.

  Sometimes I wish they were real.

  * * *

  Two days later, Mira stood over the kitchen counter in a freshly pressed dress and apron, chopping vegetables and humming lightly. The dishes were lined up neatly beside her to be dried, the counter was spotless, and not a single magnet on the fridge was crooked.

  Padrik wanted to strangle her right then and there.

  He shook that thought from his head, though, and walked in from the entryway in the dining room. Coming up behind Mira, he grabbed a sliced carrot off of the counter and dipped it in a nearby bowl of dressing, popping it into his mouth with a crunch.

  Mira gave him the side-eye.

  “Don’t touch those, I’m not finished yet.”

  “I’m hungry.”

  “It won’t kill you to wait another ten minutes. Go find something else to do.”

  Padrik stayed in place, leaned over the counter on his right side, facing a woman who refused to look at him. The tension in the air made it feel thick like smog, and Mira eventually let out an annoyed breath and turned to face him.

  Upon making eye contact, Padrik picked up another carrot and slowly, stubbornly, put it into his mouth and bit down with another crunch.

  Mira’s eyes flashed with anger, and she raised the knife in her hand as if it were an extension of her arm, pointing it at Padrik.

  “I told you to wait.”

  Padrik’s eyes darted from Mira to the knife, back to Mira, back to the knife.

  In a split second, without thinking, he ripped it from her hand and forced it into her stomach, his mind buzzing with adrenaline. Mira choked out a gasp as he pulled it out, touching her hands to the wound in shock, unable to breath at the sight of her red-stained fingers.

  There it was.

  That shocked face.

  Mira took a step back, her hands shaking in front of her and her eyes begging Padrik to answer the question, “Why?” Her legs gave out, and she fell to the floor, collapsed in a pool of her own blood.

  Padrik stared down at her, the knife still in his hand, until—


  He blinked, and suddenly the knife in his grasp was gone and back in Mira’s. She was still staring at him with a frustrated expression, leaning against the counter.


  Had he imagined the whole thing?

  “What?” he managed to get out, blinking again. “Right, ah… sorry.”

  Feeling dizzy, he walked back to the entryway on autopilot, bracing himself against the doorframe when his knees felt too weak to move.

  “Actually, Rick…” Mira called out.


  She put the knife down and pulled a towel off the sink rack, wiping her hands as she turned around to face him again.

  “If you need something to do, you can go into the garage and find the paint tools and some old newspapers.”

  Padrik sighed and pushed off the doorframe, crossing his arms.

  “And why would I want to do that?”

  “You’ll need them to paint the dining room, of course. The musty old wallpaper in there is sucking all the life out of our house.” Mira clapped her hands together, always so self-assured. Padrik briefly wondered what it was like in her head. If she lived anywhere close to the hell he’d gotten lost in.

  Mira stepped forward, poking her head through the doorway and into the dining room. “I want something new,” she finished. “Something bold.”

  Padrik scratched his head, frowning. “Can’t we just hire someone? Y’know, a professional?”

  “Why waste the money? You don’t do anything anyway, might as well make yourself useful.”

  Ah, yes. There it is, Padrik thought. He’d been waiting for Mira to sneak that one in.

  “What are you saying?” he asked.

  “You know exactly what I’m saying.”

  Padrik’s body tensed, and he curled his hands into fists at his side.

  “I’ve told you over and over that the job market isn’t good right now. I’m doing the best I can, Mira!”

  “Well, until your best gets a little better—”

  “A little better?! You think you can patronize me just because you have a job?”

  Mira glared at him, walking back into the kitchen and setting herself up again at the counter. She picked up the knife, resuming her vegetable chopping, and gave one final word.

  “Just do as I ask, okay?”


  Padrik stormed out, leaving Mira alone with the steady clunk-clunk-clunk of chopping against the silence of the room. Her body shook ever so slightly, and her eyes burned into her task. Each chop came down harder than the next as she pushed her hair out of her eyes and mumbled to herself.

  “Sometimes you just make me so mad.”

  * * *

  The flick of a match lit up Padrik’s office, and he pushed himself into his chair and threw his journal open, scrambling to dip his pen to ink.

  They’re getting worse now.

  His hand shook as he wrote, leaving much of his words barely legible, but he had to get it down. He had to figure out what the hell had just happened.

  It wasn’t just a dream this time – I actually imagined killing her, right then and there. I thought it was real. It felt real. Have I lost that much of my grip on reality?

  What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel this way? She’s my wife. Shouldn’t I love her? How can you love someone and want to do that to them?

  Padrik dropped his pen, burying his head in his hands.

  “What am I gonna do?”

  The candles burned for him as he choked back a sob.

  * * *

  The next afternoon, the front door to the Myszka home opened to the
sight of buckets of paint and the sound of jingling keys. Padrik stepped inside, dropping the paint to the floor as he shrugged his coat off and fumbled getting the keys out of the lock.

  At the sound of Padrik’s return, Mira hustled into the hall, eyes sparkling.

  “You bought the paint? Let me see!”

  “Okay, okay, hang on a sec.”

  Padrik hung his coat up on the entry hook, stepping aside to reveal the paint awaiting Mira’s approval. He gave a “Tah Dah!” motion and picked one up, holding it up for her to see.

  Padrik felt an itch as he watched the joy leave Mira’s eyes, replaced by disappointment.

  “Oh, Padrik, not red…”

  “What do you mean, ‘not red’? You said you wanted something bold!”

  “I was hoping you’d get green, Rick. You know how much I love green.”

  Padrik let the bucket drop to the floor with a thud and threw his hands into the air, an all too common motion made in their home.

  “Green?!” he cried. “How could I have guessed that? I’ve never heard anyone describe green as ‘bold’!”

  Mira glanced at the paint and then met eyes with Padrik, crossing her arms in distaste.

  “Why don’t you just take it back and find me some nice shade of green instead?”

  Unlike the last dinner they’d shared, Padrik really did snort this time. “Are you kidding me?” he rebutted, his eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “No way! You said you wanted something bold, I got you something bold. This is the color we’re using.”

  Mira’s eyes flashed. She frowned, her expression gone sharp.


  She left.

  * * *

  That evening, Padrik found himself surrounded by newspapers and paint buckets and rollers and brushes, all gathered around him for easy access. A ladder rested against the opposite wall, and transparent wrap littered edges of the walls to protect the crown molding.

  Padrik held up a paint scraper, scraping off the last bits and pieces of the old dining room wallpaper, the remains of which scattered the floor.

  Pulling off a final piece, he left the scraper on the dining table, pushed up in the back of the room with all their chairs and knick-knacks, out of place for the time being.

  He popped open the first bucket of red paint, dipping a paintbrush inside. He held it up, watching the deep red liquid drip down the end of the brush, before touching it to the wall and marking the first line of color.

  Mira passed by as he pulled down line after line, stopping briefly to glare at his back and stomp her feet at the color. Padrik chose to ignore her.


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