“The Color House” | Novella | Written by Scott Moore | 7 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Color House” | Novella | Written by Scott Moore | 7

The Purple Room

Flynn stood, brushing off the imaginary dust from his pants. Everything around him was purple, but it looked like the home he shared with his wife and daughter. He stepped forward toward the front porch. He did not know what he would find here. Would Piper be sitting in his chair? Would his daughter be playing at Piper’s feet? Or would he find his daughter was still dead and gone? The house wanted to break him, and, by his count, he had made it to the last test. This one would have to be the hardest. He mentally prepared himself and walked toward the door. He grabbed the purple handle and turned the knob, entering the replica of his home.

There, on the floor, playing with her dolls was his lovely daughter.

“Daddy,” she said, jumping to her feet. She wrapped him in an embrace, sending chills across his spine. The warmth of tears rolled down Flynn’s cheeks. Was the house ripping her away from him? He prepared himself, but she continued to hug him and then stepped away.

“Where did you go?” she asked.

He chuckled at her enthusiasm and inquisitive nature. “I am home now and that is all that matters,” he replied.

She hugged him again and then ran back to her dolls. Flynn watched her play for what may have been hours. If he never moved again, he would have been the happiest man in the world.

“Oh, you are home, dear,” said the voice of his wife.

Flynn turned to her. She was wearing a purple dress and a purple necklace hung around her neck. She came to him and wrapped her arms around him, giving him a kiss.

“We missed you,” she said.

Flynn smiled. “You have no idea how much I have missed you both,” he said.

“I have made supper. Are you hungry?”

Flynn watched as his daughter jumped from the floor. “I get to sit by daddy!” she giggled.

Both women in his life gave him another hug. Flynn’s worry and pain fled his body. Was this another trick? What kind of test was this? Did it matter? When had he ever been this happy?

“We can both sit by your father. How does that sound?”

Flynn loved the idea. He scooped his little girl into his arms and squeezed her tight. He would never let her go again. They all walked to the kitchen together and sat around the table.

“I made your favorite, Flynn,” his wife said.

Flynn looked across the spread on the table. She was right, there was roast, potatoes, carrots, onion, and gravy all lining the table.

“I could not have asked for anything more,” Flynn said.

It was the truth. There was nothing in the world that would make this better for him. He had everything he ever wanted or needed right beside him. He could not knock the smile from his face.

“I love you guys,” Flynn said.

Both women laughed. “We love you very much, too,” his wife said. This was echoed by his daughter.

Flynn watched them both eating their food and noticed his daughter no longer looked sick. His wife looked genuinely happy to be with him. Flynn put food onto his plate, letting himself forget he was still in the Color House and this was still some kind of test.

The food was the greatest thing he ever tasted. He told his wife as such and she blushed at the comment. Flynn ate the entire plate in silence, watching his family as they enjoyed a meal together.

Flynn could have lived in that moment the rest of his life. His wife had other plans. She cleared the table and took Flynn and his daughter into the sitting room. There, she played them the most beautiful music Flynn ever heard. He leaned his head back onto the chair and closed his eyes. Here was the moment of peace Flynn always imagined. This was the moment he thought of in his mind as he grew as a young boy. His wife and his daughter were everything he would ever need. Nothing weighed him down here in this room. Not his past and not the future. Nothing could ever bother him again.

The weight of his daughter settled across him as she curled onto his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer to his chest. He heard her slow breathing as she fell asleep against him. Flynn let a smile fall across his face. His wife stopped playing a few minutes later and stood from her piano bench.

“Put her to bed, Flynn,” she said, walking over to him and caressing his smooth chin.

“I will, a moment longer,” he said.

His wife chuckled. “You will have the rest of your life here with her. Every night forever can be this. I want you to know you never have to leave us again and we will never leave you.”

Flynn hesitated at the words his wife spoke. They sounded off.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

She laughed. “I mean you can live in this moment forever. You can stay here and never leave. There is nothing to go back for, Flynn. You have everything you need here in this room and you can keep it forever. You will never lose us again.”

Flynn looked down at his sleeping daughter and then back to his smiling wife. The room was still purple and everything in it was too. Flynn’s heart sank. This was still the house. No matter how wonderful he felt and how much joy coursed through him, he was still stuck in that house.

“I have to save our daughter,” Flynn said.

His wife shook her head. “You can’t save her out there, Flynn. In here, she will never die. In here, you will never lose her or me.”

She was telling him the truth. She would never leave him if he stayed. Could it be that simple? All he had to do was fail the test and he could live here in this room forever. He would never have to leave, and he would never need anything else ever again. There was no need for him to go. He looked at his daughter and watched her chest move up and down. The last time he saw her, the breathing had ceased. The last time he saw his wife, she was a crying mess. Was she still at their home? Had she already packed her things and gone?

Flynn tried to push that from his mind. The woman standing next to him was as close to his wife as any model, but she was not his real wife. She was still a fabrication of the house. This little girl in his lap was still a copy of the little girl he lost the night before.

“I’m not sure if I can do that,” Flynn said.

His wife, or the copy, looked disappointed.

“Sure, you can, Flynn. Allow yourself to be happy,” she said.

What did it even mean to be happy? Flynn had not been happy since he was a child. He had happy moments throughout his life. The first time he made love to his wife. His daughter’s birth, even if he was not present for it. Those were happy moments, but when had he last been happy? He did not recall.

“I don’t think I can allow that to happen. Not yet. I must complete what I came here for. There are other people depending on me,” Flynn said.

His wife was hurt by his words. He saw it in her eyes. “I will not force you to stay. The decision is yours. I hope you end up making the right one, Flynn.”

Flynn hoped he was making the right decision too. He stood from the chair and laid his daughter onto the couch beside him. He had to go. He needed to finish what he started. He did not make it to the door to leave before Oly stepped out and the room changed back to white.

The White Room, Again

Oly flashed his sharp, small teeth in a loose lipped smile. “Well, congratulations, Flynn. No one else in the history of the Color House has made it this far. You are one step away from completing your journey and walking out of the home with everything you came for. Not that it will change much.”

Flynn stepped forward. He wanted this to be done. He wanted to get his daughter and then go back home.

“You know that, right?” Oly asked.

“Know what?” Flynn said, stopping the search of the room.

“Your daughter is still dead. It doesn’t matter if you get her back from us. She will still be dead out there in your world,” Oly said.

He knew when he entered the house, but he wasn’t willing to let them have her.

“I still want her back,” Flynn said.

Oly shrugged. “I understand you want her back. We are offering you that. All you must do is stay in the house. There will be nothing different from the outside world, except you will always have your family and everything you desire.”

Flynn remembered the way his daughter felt in his lap. He remembered the way her hair smelled after his wife bathed her. There had been no difference when he held her in the purple room. She still weighed the same and her fragrance did not change. The only difference was she was still alive. His wife loved him in the room too. Everything had been what he always dreamed it would be.

“What do you choose, Flynn?” Oly asked.

Flynn took a deep breath.

The Choice

Flynn walked out of the white room with his daughter’s body draped across his arms. He saw his wife waiting for him with her own arms wide open. Her purple dress blew in the wind. Her smile fanned the flames burning inside his heart. He let his own smile crack. His daughter slid down from his arms.

“Mommy,” she hollered, running toward her mother.

Flynn had done it. He smiled, knowing everything would be alright.

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