Cherry Red

His hair was cherry red, I remember, streaked with pink and purple that made his eyes almost look violet in the fading light. It fell around his face, down onto his shoulders and across his cheeks, like some garish, colored wig. It was ugly but he made up for that, he made it beautiful.

There was a cigarette between his lips, the end of which burned bright as he breathed in deep, then dimmed down to a dull glow as he tapped it over a silver ashtray I had fetched out of storage. Right form the dusty backend of my cupboard. I didn't smoke.

His face was clean shaven, he'd used my razor again, and his lack of stubble made the little dimple in his just that perfect degree of noticeable. He was wearing my leather jacket that day too, over a dull green and white cardigan and a dark red shirt. I don't think he gave it back to me.

"I'm like him you know" he had said to me, and he couldn't keep the bitterness from his voice. I knew he tried, knew by the look on his face and the way he wouldn't meet my eyes.
My plant in its pot behind him was dead, the once green and vibrant stalks browning with neglect, the soil it grew in dry and littered with cigarette butts. His cigarette butts.

That plant is like a lot of things around here.

I hadn't answered him I don't think, he just leaned forward in my rusty metal chair, making it groan with protest as he looked out over my balcony, up towards the hills where the cows were silhouetted.

"I could scream and nobody would hear me, nobody would come and save me. Not even you"

I wanted to protest but I didn't, because I knew it was true. It was true because he wasn't there. He never really was. I didn't have the capacity to help him, my own mind wasn't stable enough. All I could think about was how beautiful he looked sitting in my chair, in my clothes, with his hair cherry red. It had been blonde when I last saw him, months and months before.

I feel like I am there again, in my mind, and he looks at me. I can see his pleading, the brimming of moisture at the corner of his eyes and I feel my gut wrench at his pain. I didn't say a thing, I didn't make a move to help because I knew I really couldn't.

"I'm screaming you know that? Like he did?"

I watched as the tears spilled, slipping down his clean face . He looked away, his hand trembling when he went to wipe the shining drops off his cheeks. "But I'm so fuckin' alone"

Was it always like that? I am trying to remember the other times, the times when he smiled but all I can see is his face in my mind, as he cries in silence. Maybe the happy times were so few that I cannot recall them. Maybe they were never there to begin with.

All I had done was sit, and watch the wind play with his cherry red hair, blowing it across his face till he pushed it back behind his ear.

"You ever wonder how it all started?"

I heard his voice wobble, but he still wouldn't looking at me. My stomach pitches at the memory, the anger and cold bitterness in his voice as he watched the ashtray only he ever uses. "Was it just some fuck? A once off, a drink that ended…ended here?"

I had wondered whether he was talking about us or his parents, or his grandparents or their parents too.

"Coz that's just how it works isn't it? One fucked up mistake after the other"

Had it been a mistake that he had tumbled through my door that day with his hair a new color, that color only he could pull off? Had he come to me on purpose, seeking help he wouldn't get, after months and months of nothing?

"I feel insane."

He was talking to me and to himself, one of those tears managing to slip away, splashing onto the smooth black leather of my jacket.

"I just want to sleep, I just want…someone to hear me. I'm just like him…but nobody would notice if I disappeared"

That's not true, I notice, like I noticed everyday that he had been gone before, noticed everyday the picture in my drawer, the ones on my wall and stuck to the refrigerator with those stupid smiley faced magnets someone had bought me for Christmas. I didn't say it though. I still didn't say a thing.

When he did look at me, I dropped my eyes away, unable to meet his gaze. Why hadn't I said anything?

He had needed me to say something, needed me to tell him that I would have noticed, needed me to say that I could hear him scream. But I did nothing.

That's why I am remembering the splashes of red across the walls, along the floor, the blue tinge of his lips and the blankness in his eyes. And his hair, his halo of cherry red hair as he lay cold on my bathroom floor.

The smell of bleach fills my nose. The picture of his face as he looked at me that day, on my balcony with my dead plant, and my ashtray and my jacket, fills my head.

My stomach rolls and I wretch into the toilet, because I did nothing and now that's exactly what he is.

Victim of the downs

Going round

Up around

Cherry red hair

He is never there

Always was

Will always be

Not for me

Is forever gone

Not for long

Crying out in pain

Calling

Singing

Screaming

Hear it all in vain

Is a god

Was a god

Kingdom come

It came

All In Vain

Hear it all in vain

Note:

This is something based off a poem I wrote, which I based off a photograph.

The poem is at the end of the story but I couldn't find the picture online.

If you feel like it, please review. I do love reviews.