This story is by Celine Schäffer and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It begins with blood.
No, that is not right…
It was different.
Echoing. Slow. Sticky and thick.
Once upon a time.
It begins with sound. The sound of blood hitting the floor, known, dangerous, a warning of what was to come. A reminder of what was to come. A time taker. A cue for the sound of screaming. Loud and long and filled with pain, and anguish.
What happened before?
A known sound, all too familiar, heard too many times, time rendering it raw. Time and pain, desperation, and hopelessness until it was barely human.
It was soft before. Wasn’t it? Soft and warm. A warm voice, soft and soothing. Singing. Singing what? Does it matter? Calming. It was always calming. You remember that at least. Listening to the voice talking, chattering, laughing, low and smooth. God, that laugh.
Now you had heard it wretched, distorted, for too long, for far too many times, in far too many settings.
You cling to it, the before, and yet it keeps slipping away, like water falling drop by drop, by drop.
Echoes cast around by the space, doubling, tripling, quadrupling the sound in an endless loop, harsh and loud, desperate. Echoes that stay even when the source itself tapers of, growing lower, weaker, hopelessness taking over, life seeping away, drop by drop by drop.
Taking with it what was before, the sounds of laughter, the sounds of quiet conversations, the sounds of the familiar.
It begins with color. The color red. Red fills your vision, rusty-red like old iron on the train tracks, like the exposed iron in harsh concrete buildings. Rust red like dried blood caked and old. Dry.
The color of anger, the color of rage burning through veins, filling your vision with a red haze obscuring, constricting, blinding. Focusing.
Red like the color of the burning sun on your closed lids. Red like the shifting flames of a forest fire, like the contained fire of a wood stove, warm and cozy on long winter nights.
Red like the heat filling your veins, and your heart and your head. Red like long leisure days and short, fast nights. Red like beating hearts.
Red like fresh tulips blooming in spring. Like roses given to the one you love.
Love? Yes, that is right, it started with love. With passion. With hopes.
Red like blood falling from cut meat, from emptying wrists. Red like life.
Red like the shoe forgotten in the sand.
Then comes the blue, dull, and flat.
Once it was more, so much more, filled with sparks, sparks of anger, of joy, of stubbornness. once those eyes contained so much more showing everything, every joy, every laughter, every small piece of happiness that you shared. Her soul was in her eyes, clear for all to see. And now…
Lifeless. Starring at you from across the room, eons, and eons of spaces between you.
Always in sight, never in reach.
And then they fade, the last glint of light, extinguished, lost to the gaining grey, to the empty void.
Too late. Yet again too late.
It starts with sensation. The cold air, piercing in its intensity, burning in its coldness. The ground under your feet, rough, cutting, slippery. The taste of blood, tangy and metallic in its taste, heavy like the air around you, pushing in.
Then it hits, as so many times before. The pain. The despair.
The hopelessness. The pain hits, burning in your throat, your limbs, your lungs. Despair and hopelessness. Around you.
Forgotten dreams, memories, and fantasies swirling.
Don’t look, don’t see.
And like all the times that came before it all fades away before you realize, leaving behind only what you see in front of you. The past and the future.
All those dreams, all those memories, all those half plans, and crazy schemes, slipping away like sand between your fingers. Forever lost.
And once again the world tilts on its axis, rolls, and reverses. And you are falling once more, reliving the memories of before. Falling through memories filled with warmth long lost. Through times filled with happiness, and laughter, and long-forgotten conversations. Memories forever died in the color red, sticky, and sharp.
It started with love, with passion, with dreams.
Then comes the darkness. The stillness of nothing. The darkness absorbs your screams. No sound but the white noise in your ears.
Where does it end?
It ends with blood.