Don’t Let the Colors Overlap

by Vivian Liebenson

“Don’t let the colors overlap, whatever you do.”
Chaya looked up from her painting. Her daughter, Mimi, a precocious 5 year old, was standing quietly at the side of her desk issuing this directive.
“Mimi, I have to overlap the colors. I can’t make the painting without that happening – it won’t look nice.”
“Please, Mommy, don’t overlap the colors. It will be bad.”
“What have you been watching on TV? Some Halloween nonsense? It will be fine. I paint like this all the time. Colors smudge and smear and mix and definitely overlap. Go play now and I’ll call you when it’s time to help me cook dinner.”
Chaya smiled to herself as she watched her serious daughter reluctantly leave the studio. She picked up her brush again, loaded it with cobalt blue paint, and after hesitating for only a split second, laid down a bold smear of blue, partially covering the alizarin crimson she had put down before being interrupted.
As she cleaned her brush, she felt a wave of nausea and a rushing sound in her ears. For a split second the room seemed to go dark. As Chaya blinked her eyes back into focus she looked around, panicking at her growing disorientation.
Where was she? This wasn’t her studio or even her house. It didn’t look like anywhere. Chaya couldn’t make out any discernible objects. She appeared to be in a ditch in some post-apocalyptic landscape, red to the east and blue to the west. 
“Meeeeeeee-meeeeeee!” Chaya screamed.
The fog that seemed to engulf her suddenly parted and her daughter, oversized like a giant, appeared above her.
“I told you not to overlap the colors, Mommy. I don’t know how you’re going to get out of that painting now.”

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