Red and Blue

Chapter 1


red and blue.
roses and sky.
valentine's and sapphires.

red and blue.
hospitals and oceans.
blood and tears.

the colours came first in a montessori,
taught to you by the babysitter who didn't know how to cook dinner,
strapped in a chair for hours,
and the walls were red and blue.

daddy wore the uniform,
blue all over with his number on his hat,
yellow jacket for visibility,
walked with a limp so obvious that he was a target for the criminals he chased.
mommy wore the lipstick,
bright red staining her lips until the tears she cried washed it away
when daddy got shipped off for a year before you both joined him thousands of miles away.

the first time you cried out of fear,
in the back of a blue van,
didn't know where you were going,
didn't know who was taking you there;
still don't know, eleven years later.

mommy had a red scar across her stomach,
because "your brother was a b♥tch in labour."
she didn't mind, though,
because three years before she told you that you should've been a boy,
so you were glad she was happy.
even if you did put him in the bin
(by accident, of course).

there were clear blue skies and a blue denim jacket the day you broke your first bone,
tripping head over heels down three flights of stairs,
in an infinity that would never end.
he watched and laughed,
and later he apologised,
so you forgave him.
stupid girl, only bad things come wrapped in blue.

red and blue,
flashing persistently against the caves that had been made of your eyes;
blue dress, red blood, brown hair, green eyes,
a cacophony of colour that proclaimed more life than was present,
the blood too bright, too harsh against her pale skin,
surrounded by onlookers as the bus driver repeated over and over to the police,
"she just ran in front of me, I didn't mean to hit her, she ran into the road, I didn't mean to, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to."
blue blanket wrapped around your shoulders,
people trying to talk to you,
but there's a roaring in your ears,
and everything is red and blue.

red and blue,
flashing again but this time in a different way,
through a window with a curtain drawn across it,
banging at the front door,
hiding under a table and praying they don't see you and think you were involved,
because daddy still wears his blue uniform,
and you don't want him to get mad again.
and the boy is holding your hand and whispering soothingly but frantically,
telling you it's all going to be okay,
because it's the third time his drunken father has been arrested
and surely something has to happen this time.

red and blue,
a different kind of urgency this time,
the same scene playing over and over again.
first there's the brain haemorrhage;
elderly aunt who smelt of roses,
collapsed in a hotel room with you,
trying to wake her, screaming in her ear while your mother sobbed down the phone to call an ambulance.
second, the stroke;
down the left side of your grandmother's already frail body,
and no one told you for three days because they thought they'd scare you,
but you'd seen the ambulance outside her house,
and wept for three days before being told what was wrong,
sobbing for a further ten days before being told that she'd live.
third - a "work accident;"
caught in a machine with red staining the floor,
and the walls were painted light blue,
but you didn't even notice at first,
because you were transfixed on the body that had been pulled from the machine,
trying to figure out how this had happened,
because freak accidents don't happen in small towns
and people aren't supposed to die at work in a "safe job."

red and blue,
colours which have brought bad news since before you can remember,
half of your memories of them only known through stories from your family,
half of them ones you don't even want to recall.
but one thing is certain;
red is bad by itself,
blue is atrocious.
nothing shall ever surpass the horrors brought when red and blue are brought together to form one insurmountable tragedy.


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