Red

Red.

That's all she could see.

It was splattered across her mind like paint upon canvas. Like poison it seeped into her thoughts, and tore apart her dreams until she awoke. Her breaths were short and quick; each one making her heart beat just a little bit faster. She ripped off the silk sheets and stumbled to her feet. Prodding her way across the room, she splashed her face with cold water, never once daring to touch a light switch. She'd rather him stay asleep, in fact, she'd rather he just never wake up.

She recalled his kiss feeling of nothing but tiny needles as she reached up to wipe the poison from her lips. His fingers had felt like ice, freezing her body limb by limb until she could no longer move, let alone run. She had wanted nothing more than to flee the scene and leave his lies behind her, but as she felt his eyes bore into her bare flesh she was trapped. The golden ring on her left hand now felt more like an iron chain than the gift she had once so openly accepted. Her skin now burned where his fingertips had once lingered and her heart ached from the painful images that consumed her thoughts.

Red.

That's all she could see as she closed her eyes to wipe the water from her cheeks. A cool mixture of salty tears and tap water trickled from her chin and she dared not lift her eyes to the mirror. She grabbed the terrycloth robe from the hook and wrapped it tightly around her body, as if the thin material would protect her from all the things she feared. She gripped the countertop tightly, trying to save herself from falling into the same routine all over again, but eventually she let herself slip and exited the bathroom.

The light from the hall illuminated into the master bedroom, where he slept like a king in his throne. Like Henry VIII, he had beheaded her time after time, his power growing with every additional drop of the guillotine. She watched him sleep, and all the while she wanted nothing more than to kill him. To take a knife and plunge it deep into his heart, his blood staining the sheets that covered the bed they shared together. Or to watch him struggle helplessly in the sea, each breath he took filling his lungs more and more with the black water. Or to slip only a few drops of poison in his ritual vodka that he drank every night to help him forget his miserable life, and then he would never again have to wake up to another day.

She leaned up against the wall, and shut up his figure behind the closed doors. She slammed her head back and slumped down to the floor. Reaching her hand up to her neck, she gripped the white gold cross tightly in her fist. The tears spilled from her green eyes as she prayed. She prayed for him to change. She prayed for her escape. She prayed for God to save her, to take her way, and to protect her. She squeezed the cross tightly in her palm until the elegantly carved edges dug into her flesh, and then dropped in once again.

God never listened.

Self pity wasn't a game she played often, but then again neither was adultery. She walked over to the pile of clothes that littered the hallway floor. She gently bent down and picked up a white silk shirt from the floor and clenched it tightly in her fists, breathing in its soft scents. Her nose tingled with smells of ginger and jasmine, heavenly aromas of expensive perfumes, perfumes that her husband had never graced her with. The scent was so foreign to her, and yet it was a constant reoccurrence that stained her husband's clothes, and filled the passenger's seat of his Bentley.

On the neatly pressed white collar was a smudge of bright red lipstick, a color that she would never have dared to wear. She tucked her long auburn hair behind her ears and pressed her fingers on the smudge, the color staining the tips like blood.

Red.

The lipstick. The lone pair of panties she had found in his pocket. The small napkin streaked with an elegantly written phone number tucked inside his briefcase. All red. She hated the color and the things it insinuated. Lust and adultery were all that came to mind, and she knew that things would never change.

But at the moment, adultery was the least of her problems.

She dropped the lust stained shirt in the hamper, knowing that many times in the past she had washed away the smell of ginger and the blood red stain with her own hands. Day after day she watched the bloody water swirl down the drain as the lipstick lifted from the silk, but it would never really go away. It was still dark out as she walked silently down the stairs, and she knew there was still an hour before the sun would rise and wash away the events of the night before. She had a feeling though, that these memories would never die.

She walked into the kitchen and flicked on the over head light. A dull bulb lit the room just enough so she could see where she walked, carefully avoiding the crimson puddles that were scattered across her marble floor. The red pools reflected the light onto the ceiling, littering the entire room with bursts of cherry colored specks. It would have been beautiful, if the stains on her floor hadn't been blood.

Red.

The entire room was red. The floor, the walls, the lights, the memories, the dreams, and especially the nightmares. She looked to the refrigerator and noticed the red streaks painted upon the door as if done with a brush.

BAM!

She recalled the hard thud of a body being thrown against it the night before. The soft whimper that was barely audible as the stainless steel knife clattered in the sink. Stainless, hardly. Crimson still lay streaked across the blade, even as the faucet gently let water flow across its surface. The phone hung limply on the floor, its cord having been roughly cut in two. A delicate handprint stained the door, and if the color had not been red, it might have been beautiful.

Somehow the screams from the night before still seemed to echo in the lower level of her once beautiful home. They were soft, but they still rang in her head as she pressed her hands over her ears. They could not be drowned out. The fight had been passionate. Words flying in every direction, timed out perfectly as if it had been rehearsed. Like a play, the two bodies had almost danced across the floor, but in the end one did not stand to take its final bow. The patterns on the floor marked their steps, and the thick red trail led directly to the kitchen closet.

It was like a room full of abstract art and form, each streak blending gently into the next as if purposely done. And if everything had not all been red, it could have been beautiful.

She already knew what was in the closet. She already knew the tragic story of the night before. She had heard it. She had seen it. She had tasted it. She had felt it. There was no denying what lay behind this beautiful, scarlet streaked, wooden door. It was something beautiful in itself. Something she saw everyday as she looked into the mirror and cried.

She carefully turned the knob and pulled the door open just enough to light the small area inside. Gently slumped in the corner was the petite body of a woman no more than the age of twenty-five. Her green eyes were softly clouded over, and her auburn hair was sticky, but still clung elegantly to her neck. Her delicate hands lay lifeless on the floor surrounded in a pool of blood. Around her neck gently lay a white gold cross, with elegantly carved edges.

She looked in on the body and touched her cheek softly. She seemed peaceful, and with good reason. She had finally escaped all the fights, the yelling, the torture, the pain, and everything he had put her through. The color red which she had hated so much was not a color that would often be seen in heaven. She had finally escaped all his lies.

How unfair it seemed that the mistress lived, while the wife died. How unfair it seemed that the husband slept in his bed, while the wife lay in the closet. Unfair as it all seemed, it was doomed upon her the day she said "I do". Her entire marriage had been nothing after those five long years, but after all that time there had been one thing he had honored. He hadn't been lying when he said "'til death do us part."