The last chapter of this one. I think the next series in this line will be A Handful of Emotions. Hope you enjoyed these shorts. They were a great break among pages of my papers…Thanks for all of the reviews!

A Handful of Colors

Chapter Five: Orange

Teresa Lisbon couldn't remember what it felt like.

It had been a long time ago. Years. Well, who was she kidding? When it had only been months, it had felt like ages since she had been that person. Because mere months were all it took for her family to fall apart and for her to realize it was her place to pick up the pieces.

She never once realized that it should be someone else's job. Her father's job. Instead, she had shrugged off the last vestiges of childhood and become both sister and parent at the age of fourteen. Four young boys looking to her for reassurance, for survival. At times, even her father was like a large child. Needy. Vulnerable.

The drink had always brought him so low, down past the world of rage and anger. All the way down to a deep depression that he wallowed in. It was so deep that when she followed to help, she wasn't sure she could surface let alone bring him up with her.

And she was still ashamed at how much she had loved that man, still loved that man. After hours of screaming, of flinching away from his sudden movements, of feeling blows that left darker bruises inside than out. Even after that, she would gently bring him water and aspirin to alleviate his pain. Wash the vomit from the side of his mouth. In the better times, his hand would reach out and ever so softly—if sloppily—brush against her cheek.

"You're a good girl, Tess."

How pitiful to live for that moment. The small moment where the broken man in front of her remembered that she was someone he cared for, that he had once been a father to.

After all of that, it was harder and harder to remember. To remember who she had been before. To remember the lovely face of her mother, her dark hair shining against the soft fabrics of her clothing.

Soon, all she could remember was orange.

Her mother had been in love with that color. Always saying that it added spice to life. And growing up, Lisbon had begun to connect orange with spontaneity, with happiness. With her mother.

Not the bright Halloween orange, but a deep, tangy orange. Scarves, shirts, bracelets. Her mother had had many things in various shades of it.

Funny how her death had resulted in the removal of all of that from the house. From Lisbon's life.

So she could remember the color. The shade. But not the feeling. Of love, spontaneity. Of feeling safe trusting those things.

It was a long while before Jane brought it out in her. And even then, against her will. But something about him…

"Variety's the spice of life, my dear Lisbon."

And for a moment all she saw, all she felt, was orange.