Lady In Red

A short story I wrote a few years ago… Excuse the soppiness!

Everyday, like clockwork, down the steps from the office, left along dark Samson Road. Right into the bright Langford Avenue, straight over the old bridge to the small aged housing estate, the beautiful woman walked, usually in her chocolate brown suit and heeled boots. Tonight she wore a backless scarlet dress, the lady in red. Her dress fell around her ankles like the sea onto the rocks. Her long auburn hair cascaded down her bare back, brushing it gently, grazing it.  It had been a year now. Everyday he had followed her home, every night along the dark roads and streetlight bright avenues.

Each evening they walked; metres apart. She never turned around. She always kept walking. He never saw her face but he could tell that when he did it would take his breath. She was so perfect it was sickening. He had dreamt about what the other side of her elegant auburn head would look like.

Every night they walked, so close, but worlds apart. The beautiful woman he felt as if he had known for the past year. He followed her again, as he had every night. Every night the same; like clockwork. Her route never changed, her steps never faltered.

Tonight would be different. It would all end. Tonight would be the last night the woman walked alone. The last night she was lonely on her travel. The first time he felt her touch. The first time her saw her stunning face.

He knew tonight would be different; he planned on seeing her face, hearing her voice, tasting her lips. Little did he know that she was not all that he imagined.

The lady in red seemed oblivious to the man who followed her every night. She never saw him, he was good at hiding from her, nervous he was not what she wanted or that he would frighten her. She would not have seen him anyway.

She had stayed at the office late that night as it was the Christmas party; she had worn her new red dress. Her sister had helped her pick it out in her lunch hour yesterday. Many people had commented on it and said it was exquisite, she did not argue. She merely commented on its comfort. Tonight she was walking home late; she was tired and was walking faster than normal. Some nights it was a different time but every night she would walk this way. It was safe.

Every evening he spotted her too late to see her face, but he always followed her. It was always her back and her delicate hair which he saw and followed and had fallen in love with. Tonight he would confess his love, his obsession.

They continued walking along the lengthy avenue, the bright street lamps shone down on the curious pair. The rays of light reflecting off her auburn tresses, making them shine like the sun. The moon hung in the sky casting an eerie shadow between the street lamps. It was a warm night for December, but the pavement was covered in a thin layer of frost. The woman’s heels made quiet crunching noises on the ground as she walked.

The man began to walk faster to catch up with the lady in red he had ambled behind for many nights. Until he slipped and fell to the ground facing the stars. He groaned in pain. The lady in red turned, her hair floated around her shoulders. She looked as if she had just stepped off the catwalk. Her face was as beautiful as he had expected, if not more so. She walked back towards him and held out her hand to help him up. He took it. Her hand was soft; it felt like silk between his rough, tired fingers. He opened his mouth to speak but no sound passed his lips. He clambered to his feet, his knees weak from her loveliness. Her face was perfect, her features even and each delicate and subtle. Her mouth sat like a rose on her round face and her eyes were large and staring, piercing right through him. They were the only harsh thing on her soft face. Her irises were perfectly black and intently looking at him.

“Are you alright?” her voice was gentle and kind.

“Err…Yes,” he stammered, “thank you.”

“You’re welcome, I’m glad you’re not hurt” she paused, “may I ask you a question?”

“Yes” he whispered.

“Is the moon out tonight?”

“Why not look up the sky and see?” he questioned. She paused before answering:

“I can’t”

“I don’t understand” the man responded, confused.

“I have been blind for many years, but I remember the moon, it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.” She remembered.

“You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” said the man. The woman’s cheeks grew scarlet, not because of the cold.

“You are the one who has been following me every night.” she said

“I did not know you knew.”

“Yes” she replied, “but I wasn’t scared, I knew your intentions were good. I’ve been waiting for you to talk to me.”

Her eyes seemed to soften slightly, but they still looked through him. He had been saddened by her blindness at first, but now all he wanted to do was look after her, protect her and love her. He was still holding on to her hand. He pulled it in towards him and embraced her in a long passionate kiss; she did not flinch or pull away. She fell into his arms and rested there as if that was where she belonged. They resided in each others arms for some time.

“You have ruined my routine,” she said light-heartedly when they pulled apart, “I will not know my way home now.”

“I’ll help you” he said. It did not surprise the lady in red when he took her arm and slid it through his, nor did it shock her when he did not ask for her address, she knew that he knew where to go. She knew that he had seen her home more than she had. As he led her they talked, but her lack of sight never once came up in conversation. When they got to her door she got out her key and let herself in, after saying goodnight. He walked home in a daze without noticing where he was going, his mind was set on her, nothing else mattered.

He would meet her everyday from now, walk her to what would soon become his home as well, where he would soon live with her, protect her and love her. She would love him, more than she had loved anything, more than she loved the beauty of the moon and more than she missed seeing the world. They would get married and their love would grow more and more until one night it would all end. The dream would end.

One night he would be too busy to walk her home and she would have to walk on her own. She had convinced him she would be fine, she had walked on her own so many times before they had met. Tonight it would not be as easy to walk home; she had not walked on her own for a long time. She did not remember the amount of steps to take on each road. She had forgotten her routine.

She stepped into the road too early. It would have been fine, the road was not busy and she had not heard any cars. But there was one, going faster than it was meant to. The car could not stop. It was going fast to get its driver to his wife to drive her home. The driver of the car was a man who loved his wife. He had never once let her walk on her own without help, not since they had met.

The woman fell to the ground, her eyes open and staring, black as coal. Her leg lay crooked, swollen and awkwardly bent, bleeding. Blood began to flow from a cut in her arm. A trickle of blood escaped from her delicate nose. She lay, bruised and broken.

The man leapt from his car, dread enveloping him, tears streaming down his face. Thoughts flew around his head; he should have slowed down; he should have let her walk on her own; he should have seen the woman crossing the road, his wife. He ran to her, on the ground, bleeding, dying.

Guilt hit him faster than light, he realised what he had done. He fell to his knees and screamed to the sky, asking why he had done it, how he could have been so stupid. How could he have broken her? He bent and cupped her face in his hands and kissed her scarlet lips. Her eyes looked through him, as they had always done. He looked into them and saw the moon reflected in them.

“Thank you for helping me see the world again” The words tumbled from her lips like the tears falling from his eyes.

Her body went limp, dead in his arms. Her legs were covered in scarlet blood. Her eyes lay open and staring. Their shine had gone; they were left hollow and dark. She was wearing a red dress, a short, linen summer dress; the blood stained it darker in places. Her hair fell around her head like a halo, gleaming in the moonlight. Her beauty was no less breath taking, but this time it was her breath being taken from her. It was all lost now.

She rested, the lady in red. She had died staring at her favourite things, the moon and her husband.

He sat in the road with her broken body in his arms for hours, sobbing into her hair. Her body was becoming colder by the minute, all he could do was crouch and hold her, say goodbye. He knew his life would never again be complete, that he had lost the one thing that he had ever really loved, the one thing he had surrendered everything for. His heart would go to waste. He had to let go of her, in the place where he had first seen her face, and the place where he would see it last; his wife, his love, his life, his lady in red.



One response to “Lady In Red

  1. Pingback: Half Past Tomorrow | Emily Jane

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