[Fiction] Friday Challenge for September, 21 2007:
Pick an unusual phobia and explain why a character has it.
Mayra Cortes was a fashion designer whose clothes were described as colorful, whimsical and charming by the trade magazines. Her specialty was bright colors, turquoise, hot red, green and others inspired by her childhood in the Caribbean. Sometimes people came to her with requests for custom pieces, and she always approached these with trepidation, dreading certain requests. The term "little black dress" made her cringe, for example. She had been asked repeteadly why she did not use the color black in her designs, and her answer was always the same: black is overrated, my designs are full of life.
The truth was she could not stand the color black. One glance at something black, it did not really matter what, would make her break out in a sweat and feel a strong desire to run and hide. This made things a little hard in life, as black is quite a pervasive color in everyday objects. She always designed with colored pencils. She tried not to use a computer and when she did she had her software set up to use colored fonts instead of black. She avoided going out much for fear of encountering something black out in the open. She took anti-anxiety medicine. It still was hard to deal with. The truth was, no amount of medicine and treatment could mend a grieving heart.
When Mayra was five years old her family had been in a car accident while driving home from a day at the park. It had been such a great day too, with Mayra and her brother flying kites and competing to see who could fly it highest. She also rode her bike, and her dad took off her training wheels for the first time. She was ready, and took off with grace and speed, a seamless transition. Mayra's mom had brought sandwiches, and as Mayra sat at the picnic table eating hers, a chango bird flew down and set at the edge of her table quite close to her, watching her intently with its yellow eyes, waiting for a crumb to fall so it could grab it. The bird scared her with its aggressiveness. She shushed it and the bird resisted at first, then finally took off after cackling in protest.
On Road number one an 18-wheel truck whose brakes failed rammed the family car from behind, killing her parents and brother. Miraculously, Mayra only suffered minor injuries.
The day of her family's burial, their large family showed up, clad in black and filling the funeral home with loud sobs and misery. Mayra sat alone and forgotten in her starchy black linen dress as her grandmother and aunts comforted each other. As they were lowering the caskets to the ground, a black bird came to sit on top of Mayra's dad's coffin. Mayra looked astonished as the bird cackled loudly and looked in her direction.