This story can only be found bundled with the Erotic Novella “Locker Room Fantasy”
The red, overstuffed chair sat on the dying lawn like a throne in an overrun kingdom. Marlo could not take her eyes from it. The yard was cluttered with scuffed leather shoes, stupid knick-knacks, chipped glass lamps the color of burnt amber, and torn paperbacks, mostly romance novels. A rack of brightly printed shirts stood proudly on the outer edge of the lawn. Marlo ran a single finger up the arm of the chair. She could feel the wooden skeleton underneath the worn red fabric. It wasn’t the shape of the chair, or the feel, but the color. Marlo had a proclivity for the color red.
It had started when she was young. She would lie in her parents’ big king-sized bed and watch as her mother flitted back and forth in her bright red nightie. It was a slip-type thing with dainty, clever lace at the top and a scalloped edge at the bottom. Marlo remembered admiring how the slip hugged her mother’s ample bosom and rear, hoping that she would have a body like that someday too. Then her memories shifted to sorting through her mother’s closet, looking for something to bury her in. She took the red slip out and held it up to her own body, noticing how she still didn’t have the body of her mother. Her own frame was tall and straight, muscular and almost boyish. Lesbians loved her. Men were curious, but standoffish. She usually didn’t mind. The slip was worn thin, almost threadbare, and the lace at the top was torn, shrivelled, like tiny, dying flowers.
The second instance of red Marlo remembered was a bra and panty set that she had found discarded in the woods in back of her suburban apartment complex. The panties still had a wet stain in the front and Marlo had squatted down in the patch of dead, fire-ready leaves and sniffed them. They smelt like sex. Marlo had sat cross-legged with the bra and panties in her hands, rubbing her thumb and forefinger over the silky material. She made up stories about what the woman who had been wearing these had been doing. She had been a waitress or a bartender – jobs Marlo had always thought were glamorous back when she was young – and some man had come in and swept her off her feet. Marlo imagined the young woman gingerly slipping her long, sculpted arms out of the pretty bra. Marlo was too young to wear a bra back then and wasn’t quite sure how big the woman’s breasts would have been. She slipped it over her powder blue Camp Little Rock T-shirt and left the back unhooked and dangling behind her. The panties she just held carefully, not wanting to wipe off the fresh scent. It was the closest she had ever come to sex. She wasn’t even sure what sex was, but she compared it to kissing Jimmy Thomas, the boy with two first names, in the coat closet of their first grade classroom. He had asked her to pull up her shirt so he could take a Polaroid and she had done it. He passed it around to all the other kids in their class until her teacher saw it and gave it to her Mom. Her Mom held it limply in one hand and cried, shaking her head, looking down at the photograph and up at her face. Marlo had been confused, concerns about her body implanted in her mind.
Marlo had the red bra and panties, the wet spot long since dried, and her mother’s worn slip in a box in the back of her closet. There were other red objects in it as well: a red toothbrush that she had used the handle of when she first learned to masturbate; the tight red T-shirt she had stolen from the very first girl she had had a crush on; a tiny, red nylon backpack that this club kid had given her after they had had the most amazing sex on Ecstasy.
“Go ahead, sit in it.” The owner of the chair motioned for Marlo to sit down. His voice was salty and smooth, rumbling over her like an earthquake. She jerked, arrested in her reverie of hungry thoughts and spilling memories. The man smiled. Marlo’s mouth made a tiny “o” – as if she wanted to say something but then thought better of it.
“It’s comfortable,” the man said. “I used to spend almost every night in it,” he continued wistfully, “but my new girlfriend is moving in and she hates it. She thinks it’s tacky. She doesn’t like red much. Well, it’s not like she doesn’t like red as much as she thinks that red should be used only for small things and kept away from big objects.”
The man finished his soliloquy and pressed Marlo’s shoulder forward a bit. She was surprised by his foray into the territory of red, having spent all these years thinking that she was the only one who thought about it. She was tired as well and sank comfortably into the chair. The chair opened up and took her in. It felt like a gigantic hug and she leaned back against it, hoping to glean all the love from it and soak it up into her own beating, red heart. She shut her eyes and leaned into it. When she opened them the man was standing there smiling at her.
“You like it,” he said, beaming. Marlo blushed, a deep pink. The man took one finger and brushed it across her cheek. She thought of scratches, welts, menses and bloodshot eyes. The man cocked his head and looked carefully at her as Marlo caught her breath. It was like he could read her thoughts, as if her mind was strewn with construction paper hearts and strawberry sauce.
Her obsession with red had swirled into a crescendo the year she had graduated from college. It was the first apartment she had ever had by herself. She had painted the walls red. She had cross-stitched her monogram on the pillows in a bright fuschia; her dresser and desk set were a rich mahogany. It was in that room that Marlo had spent nights alone wildly masturbating and nights with strangers that had accompanied her home. It was in this apartment, the one with cherry magnets on the fridge, that she had learned how to have multiple orgasms and what she really liked about sex.