Henry Commons and his wife, Evyleen, swung off the highway into a drive-through. Henry hoped the caffeine in his Red Bull would wake him up.
“Done with that?” Evyleen asked, pointing to the red fries carton balancing on the dash.
Evyleen stuffed their dinner trash into the red bag it’d come in and crunched down the top. A sudden blast of noisy air shot into the car when she lowered her window. She tossed the sack out and closed the window.
Bouncing down the asphalt at sixty-five mph, the bag split, ejecting red trash, scattering the debris into nothingness.
Henry glanced at her.
“It smelled like grease.”
Henry shrugged. He’d done it himself before.
The next morning at the kitchen counter, they stood, each sipping from steaming cups.
A red fleck was floating in Henry’s coffee and he fingered it out. He examined it on his fingertip then flicked it into the sink.
Evyleen’s lips hovered over her cup rim. “The new filters maybe?” She set down her mug and filled a clear glass under the water faucet. Chips of red streamed out with the water. She didn’t notice and took a deep, refreshing gulp. “I gotta run.” They kissed goodbye, Evyleen leaving traces of her red lipstick on Henry’s mouth.
Later, Henry had a doctor’s appointment.
“Mr. Commons, your test shows abnormalities.” He snapped an x-ray in the viewing box. “See here,” he pointed with his pen, “that is what’s bothering you.”
“What are those?” Henry asked, pointing to different shadows on the film.
“Never mind those. We’re looking here. I’ll prescribe some pills. That should help you feel better.”
Henry took the prescribed red pills diligently but only felt worse. The doctor recommended surgery.
“Suction,” the surgeon said through his mask. He removed some bad tissue, careful to work around the bits of red foreign matter embedded in the surrounding area. Disturbing them might release all kinds of worse problems.
At home recovering, Henry ate carefully. He didn’t notice the red chips mixed in with his chicken soup. Evyleen diligently gave him his medication. Two white pills, flecked in red, every four hours on the dot—with plenty of water. Neither of them noticing the red floating flecks.
When Henry was back at work, a coworker brought in a box of goodies with red sprinkles on top. Everyone said they were delicious. Henry had two, wishing he could feel better. Before he left the office, he helped clean up the break room, throwing the red plates and cups into the trash.
Evyleen was planting flowers when he got home, just finishing up by sprinkling red weed killer on some dandelions in the flowers beds.
“Let’s go out for dinner,” Henry suggested, hoping to forget how ill he’d been.
“Love to,” she said, gathering her garden tools.
In their red hatchback, they backed out of the driveway. Henry looked forward to having a big steak. He’d get his favorite, the kind marinated then served with red sauce.
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