I see red.
The color is vividly rich resulting in the hazy fog which clouds my senses. The sight triggering several distorted memories, ones I attempt to block out mentally as a nauseous feeling overcomes me.
– A broken cane, tainted banisters, and broken glass sprawled all over the polished floors, soiled satin sheets.
Lips parting, a choked sound escapes me and my head spins as I stagger shakily on my noodly feet, immensely disturbed by the sight of him dripping from head to toe with crimson. Shirt barely hanging off his broad shoulders, the fabric only but a shredded reminder of its original state.
Aïdon cradles his right arm as he leans against the doorpost, busted lips pressed tight as he clenches his jaw to keep from hissing in excruciating pain.
His once flawless, golden skin is ghastly pale with multiple parallel lines which are etched deep in his broken flesh running along the expanse of his arms and bare chest, leaking blood like a faucet. His face is ghastly pale, eyes - expressive only but a few days ago - are dull and almost lifeless.
My hands are cold like ice as I reach forward and grab his arm, however, my hand drops and my expression falls with worry when a hoarse sound of pain is voiced. "Sorry, sorry," the apology is rushed and barely above a whisper.
Stepping to the side and opening the door wider, I gesture for him to come inside, fear that my touch will heighten his pain embedded within me. Aïdon sluggishly stumbles inside, and with each step, he leaves behind red-stained footprints on the floor.
I close the door, turning on my heels to find him lowering himself onto a two-seater couch with a pained groan, his frame takes up the entire space and he swings his legs over the armrest, letting them dangle.
"Where's the first aid box?" I ask, panic interlacing my words and I run my clammy hands over the surface of my dress. I don't do well with blood.
Nodding, I race towards the door, eyes frantic as I scan the counters and whip my head from side to side.
He calls out again, "the second cupboard to your right."
And I follow his instruction.
Standing on my tippy toes, I grab the curved bronze handle and forcefully swing the cupboard door open, my gaze sweeping over the scantly laid-out contents inside. Ranging from a few bags of chips to canned products, I have a relieved sigh when I see the small white box standing in the far corner.
Shuffling to maintain balance on the tips of my toes, I begin to reach for the box.
My fingers have just grazed the sides of the plastic box when a soft wind breezes by and tickles the baby hairs on my nape. It carries with it a bunch of unpleasant cacophonous whispers, distorted voices all speaking at the same time, regardless, the words echo loud and clear in my head.
As the words register, my fingers freeze in time... still fastened around the cold surface of the box but unmoving.
A crackling sound, the kind a radio makes when the signal reception has been disrupted."He's weak," the voices are scratchy, "this is your chance."
I whirl on my feet with a gasp, eyes wide when I'm met with nothing but air behind me.
It continues, paying no heed to my confusion and growing fear. "He chained you," there's a crack in my resolve, "he caged you like a pet."
I shake my head, my knees buckling.
Indescribable anger like no other fills me, it blooms like a flower in summer and its fiery heat spreads like poison inside me. Spreading its tentacles deep as it reaches parts of me that haven't been touched in a long time, it claws its way farther into my heart and grips it tightly.
You'll always be locked in some cage.
I clench my eyes at the fleeting thought, pressing a palm to my head with a low groan. "Stop it," I whisper.
This time it's softer and more docile, bearing a sickeningly sweet and almost coaxing tone, dripping rich caramel intended to lure me in. However, more images flash before my closed lids; dull, lifeless eyes bleeding into nothingness, the sound of ravens flapping their wings as they ascend to the dark desolate sky, a blood-crusted ring.
No – my decision is made – no more blood.
"You could get your freedom back," a momentary pause, "besides, red has always suited you." A sensation– the littlest of fingertips skimming against my flesh, brushing my tear-stained cheeks.
I whisper, "I- I can't."
Suddenly, the crushing feeling in my chest disappears and I exhale a heated breath as I feel my eyes begin to water.
"Did you find it?" Aïdon calls out for me and the sound of his voice stops the trail of fresh tears seconds away from streaming down my face. Collecting myself, I force the weird incident to the back of my mind and wipe my tears, sniffling as I reach for the box and make my way back to the living room.
My steps are light as I approach him, he is laid horizontally across the couch with his shirt sprawled somewhere on the floor. Without the piece of clothing, every single bloody mark drawn over his ample chest is bare to my view, and man does it look bad.
I notice the way his eyes linger on my red-rimmed eyes and the flush on my cheeks, but he says nothing of it, choosing to remain quiet.
Blood pulsates from a torn artery close to his right stomach area, a fountain of thick, sanguine liquid comes from the wound; the ebb and flow steady but in a dying rhythm in time with his thunderous heart.
The white button-up shirt is no longer but a plain canvas. Rather it bears the skilled articulate strokes of a master painter on its surface as well as a slightly older stain that is congealed and has dulled to a reddish-brown claw mark similar to the ones etched deep in his flesh present.
The question hangs by a thin silver thread on the tip of my tongue as I drop the first aid box on the floor beside him and rush back to the kitchen with a thundering heart to get a basin filled with water and a rag, but I force myself to swallow my words, fearing his reaction to my inquiry
Dipping the folded rag in water, I kneel by the floor and almost hesitantly, my hand reaches for his chest. He flinches slightly at my touch, the pads of my skin brushing against the broad yet ghastly expanse of his chest in the softest of flutters. Like the sensation felt when the cool breeze of the early mornings grazes your cherub cheeks and tickles the baby hairs on your skin, whispering sweet nothings in your ear. The breath that escapes me is sharp and heated and my heart skips a beat at the warmth which blooms at my fingertips.
With shaky fingers and a racing heart, I manage to clean the blood with a rag cloth, swiping it away and dipping the rag in water. Squeezing and watching as the water slowly begins to turn a corresponding red, only to repeat the process
No words are exchanged between us, the only sound which permeates the tense atmosphere is that of his grunts and groans, whispers of tiny curses falling from his bruised lips. Initially, though, I am concerned by the extent of his injuries but he assures me saying that he doesn't require stitches and that they will heal very quickly.
When I'm finally done bandaging and disinfecting his wounds, he swings his feet from the armrest, swaying softly from side to side as he makes a move to rise to his feet.
"You should rest," I speak softly, thereby breaking the silence and drawing his attention to me. I lower my gaze, focusing on wiping the bloody evidence of his life force on both my hands and putting away the used materials.
His voice is hoarse and low, "I know."
The sound of footfalls ascending the stairs leading to the second floor ricochets off the walls.
Suddenly, I blurt out with my head still lowered and tone mimicking one of indifference, "not even a thank you?"
He pauses and I'm almost certain I can feel his stare drilling a hole the size of a fucking China in my side profile. I can swear he's not going to acknowledge me, going to ignore me like he always does and continue to head up to his room or wherever he's going.
But I swear I'm not even close to ready for what he says next.
My head whips to the side, my eyes wide with shock and mouth agape as I peer at him. Did he just... did he say...
As though to confirm what I'd heard, he repeats the words, letting them ring loudly in my head as my brain works double-time to process them. "Thank you."
I'm almost convinced he's fucking with me but there's a look on his face, the soft gentle expression on his face laid out openly for me to see and decipher. It's appreciation.
There's no trace of a smile on his face, no hug offered to me, but fuck me if that look on his face doesn't make my heart skip a damn beat.
Seriously, fuck me.