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Scarlet Eyes, Scarlet Lies
by Cassiel Kelner

I only see in shades of red and black. The red of blood, and the black of nothingness.

Even as I lie on my back and stare at the sky, it too is stained with blood. The clouds that drift by are the pale pink of blood muted with water, and the rays of the sun are tinged maroon, glimmering hotly as they caress my face like bloody fingertips.

The earth beneath my grasping hands is drenched with it, wet in that thick, warm, somehow intimate way that only blood can have. And when I close my eyes, the echo that dances upon my eyelids is crimson before it fades into blessed darkness, until I am left alone with only black.

If I reached out, just a little further to my right, I could touch him, he's that close. But I can't make myself. My clenched fingers will not reach any further. Instead, they dig deeper into the clammy earth, tying me to this one spot in the great open.

Because he's as blood red as everything else. He's been red since the day I met him, and today, he is scarlet. Scarlet lies. He told me it would be different this time. He told me the blood in my eyes meant nothing.

And I believed him. I see only blood, and where I go, I leave only blood, yet I believed him.

It's so hot, lying here, with the sun beating down on me. But there's no point seeking shade. The blood courses through me, and I will be bathed in sweat for days. There's nothing I can do, I know that by now; nothing to do but wait.

I can smell it, too, like copper and ozone and escaping life. I smell the crispness of the smoke that clogs the air, and the sourness of fear, and I can smell him. He smells sour, too, and yet his smell is fading amidst the others, and I try to breathe deeper. I'm afraid to lose his scent.

I roll over, so that I'm facing him, but I don't dare open my eyes. I know his colour already; I don't want to see it again.

Somewhere in the distance, I can hear a girl screaming. It seems I once heard her voice laughing. Maybe he laughed with her, too, maybe we both did, in another lifetime. She was red too, they all were, but somehow, he made me forget.

He made me want to see the world in all its colours. But it's still just red and black to me, even now, and it will never change.

I reach out, finally, and embrace him. I can feel the blood on him; it's slick and warm, as warm as I am, yet underneath it all he's cold. So cold and alone, just like me.

I open my eyes. They see red, and only red; so vivid, so bright, I can hardly make out the details. But I see him, his face pale red, his hair a damp scarlet tangle around closed eyes and grimacing lips.

He is mine. Even in blood, even in darkness, even in death.

I try to drag him away from this place, away from the blood, and suddenly, we are tumbling, rolling down the hill, his unresponsive limbs entangled in mine, our bodies locked together. I watch the blood-soaked sky and the bloody earth as we tumble, over and over.

Icy-cold water closes over my head. I gasp, and I am breathless, my mouth full of water. His body enshrouds me, pulling me deeper, and above me, slipping away from me, I see the glint of the red sun reflecting through the shimmering red ripples of the river.

I close my eyes until I can see only black. Does it matter anymore?

But something pulls me upwards. I fight it, but the blood is still flowing through me, and I am too weak, too worn out. All I can do is strike out with feeble blows as I am dragged from the water, dragged out to lie on the shore, suddenly cold and shivering.

"Crimson." A voice speaks my name. His voice.

I must be dead. This is my hell, to be taunted by his voice for eternity, unable to have him.

"Crimson, please."

I open my eyes.

He is kneeling next to me. His eyes are red, his hair is scarlet, but his skin is a colour I have never seen.

I stare at him. And when I reach out to touch him, unable to believe what I am seeing, I realise that my hand, too, is no longer red, no longer a colour I can put a name to. And all I can do is stare at my fingers. And through them, at the grass I see beneath us, with not a hint of red in it. Grass with a colour that is warm, and full of life.

"Is it over?" he asks me, softly. And when I look up, I see his eyes again, eyes that truly are as blood red as mine have always seen. And then I understand.

"You were right. When I saw blood in you, it meant nothing."

"I told you." His arms close around me again, warm this time, warmer than I am, and I sink into his embrace.

The blood has stopped flowing through me, and I can see colours. I can see life.