Red and Blue

I sit curled up next to the fireplace, my head resting against the surround. A goblet of heavy Merlot in my hand; heavy for its body or heavy for my longing, I cannot say. As I stare into the crackling blaze, my mind wanders. So many memories from years gone by, so much love shared here, in this very room. My soul shrieks with grief as I collapse into a ball, no longer able to hold myself upright; no longer able to stem the wracking sobs.

The fire now a blur through swollen wet eyes, my head lolls and I glance toward the tree with its twinkling lights, glittering ornaments and brightly wrapped packages tucked neatly below. You always were such a perfectionist. My eyes flutter shut as the day you dressed the tree forces itself upon my mind. You were so happy, so excited to pick the largest pine available. I recall joking that one of us would have to move out so the tree could move in. You kissed me with icy cold lips and a bright red nose. Little did I know how soon I would long to feel that frigid touch once more. Your enthusiasm knowing no bounds, you spent the entire day arranging everything just so; making sure the colorful glass baubles were placed with precision, everything to an exacting measure. I’d playfully moved a strand of tinsel while you weren’t watching, only to reenter the room moments later to find it placed back in its original position.

The gifts. Oh, how you tortured me over the gifts long before the season began. A sad smile steals across my lips as I think of the hours you spent fretting over the perfect surprise for each of our friends. As I sip from my glass, a slight chuckle escapes me only to end in a bleat of pain as I recall how you stressed over wrapping each gift in the perfect color foil. God, how you loved this day.

I think back upon the last evening I saw you. I was standing at the island between this room and the kitchen preparing dinner; you remembered one final detail you couldn’t do without. I kissed you as you bounded past me, told you not to be long and that I loved you. You grabbed your coat from the hook, turned to me with purse in hand, golden locks bouncing, and smiled before replying as you always did – not nearly the way I love you. I smiled back; you left. Two hours later, a knock sounded. I wasn’t worried, you often became infatuated with something or other and lost track of time or misplaced your keys. As I moved to open the front door, I noticed the bare flicker of red and blue light drifting in from the balcony. Seeing the officers standing at the threshold, I turned and walked to the glass, placed my forehead to it, and knew in that moment… you were gone. I woke lying upon the couch. The officers explained there’d been an accident at the corner – our corner; a young woman had been hit by a car that ran the red light. You were that young woman.

My eyes crack open seeking a red light on the tree, your tree – our tree. But instead, my sight finds the red fairy lights you used to decorate the balcony. Barely able to stand, I stumble to the sliding doors. As I fumble to open them through my tears, the Merlot in my glass pours onto the white carpet. My addled mind tells me how angry you’ll be if I don’t clean the deep burgundy spill right away; my breath hitches, another sob escapes me. Finally managing the lock, I step through onto the bitterly cold veranda. Standing at the rail, I exist in a halo of red light, my long chestnut mane whipping in the wind; the flush on my cheeks all but gone in a tinted haze. Another balcony, the one next to ours, is adorned in blue twinkling lights. I wonder why I’d not noticed it before. The blue and red lights blur together as my inebriated mind struggles to adjust. Five stories below, more lights glitter, cars rush past; the ground wears a fresh blanket of snow. I’m so tired, and the blanket seems so inviting. Please, don’t go without me – words I should have spoken that night. Letting myself lean forward, the world pitches as my mind screams for release from this sorrow, begs me to join you. I grasp the railing, sink to my knees and crawl back inside. Too much a coward to follow you; too devoted to allow your memory to die.

~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2014 Nina D’Arcangela. Revised 2016. All Rights Reserved.

23 thoughts on “Red and Blue

    1. Thank you, Chris! I’m glad you enjoyed the read. This is my very natural, somber voice. I tend to gather facts, processes situations, and most often, end up with a scenario similar to this one stoking my writerly imagination. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A beautiful yet haunting piece, Nina! You can never be sure who is suffering over the holidays and the pain the MC feels wanting to follow but to weak to do so I’m sure is something that people who have lost someone battle on a regular basis. I love how you tied the Christmas lights with the police lights. Magnificent story!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jon! This piece was written based on the concept of duality in all things. Happy Christmas lights morph into something tragic and earth shattering for the narrator: red is typical of most things Christmas; my in-laws had decorated in all blue for the holidays the year before – thus the red and blue theme. Combine the two and you get colors that signify something far less festive: a visit from the police, which usually signifies something gone terribly wrong… from there, the story unfolds on its own. Again, thank you for your kind words, Jon, I truly love this story, and it makes me happy to know others appreciate it as well. 🙂


  2. I think many people forget – or perhaps choose to forget – that the holidays often draws more pain than joy from the heart. Your piece throbs with that pain, and yet you deliver it with a refined grace.

    “Too much a coward to follow you; too devoted to allow your memory to die.” This line will resonate within me for a long time.

    Beautifully done, Nina!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh my days! So that was beautiful, full of raw emotion and heartbreaking! I’m sat in hospital sobbing my eyes out, aunty may thought it was my hormones again, but after handing her my iPad and her handing me a hankie , she read it and said ‘ that girl can write’. How you write that with being in tears the whole time?! Thank you x Awdw x (adding I’m in hospital having treatment not cos I’m sick. Cos your fingers the bloody stem cells work!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Angel, you are such a sweet, sensitive, and open creature – I hope you know what a gift that truly is. I’m sorry that it made you cry, but know I cried while writing Red and Blue. Knowing that you and others you know appreciate it so much makes me extremely happy. And thank you for clarifying that you weren’t in the hospital because you were ill, but for treatment. Please pass my sincere thank you to Aunty May for both reading, and complimenting my story. Many hugs, sweet one! xoxo ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww thanks chicken! I can’t be anything other than open. I tried hiding and dealing with things on my own in the past and it really nearly killed me! Yeah I can be sweet and sense rive, but I have a bitch side to! (Mess with the girls, my god kids , niece or nephew or my dogs , I’ll happily take a baseball bat to you!) hugs x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent story! I love the deep emotions it brings out, and the ending came very unexpectedly. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, it went completely the other way! Such a deep and thoughtful piece! A dark, reflective view of the holiday season, that is all too real for many people…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lee! I always try to zig when I’m supposed to zag, but in the case of Red and Blue, the piece wrote itself. (see my reply on Jon’s comment) 😉

      Thank you, again, for the very kind words, and for appreciating my story the way it was meant to be appreciated. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Veronica! It certainly is a raw and vulnerable piece, but to be anything else wouldn’t have been honest or true to the story. I wanted the reader to feel through the eyes of the narrator; to see the lights blur, the shimmering colorful gift wrappings, the beautiful tree, and know they were being given a peek into what was a very happy and loving home before tragedy struck. I’m glad to know it translated well. Thank you again, sweetie! 🙂


  5. Hi Everyone! Thank you for the wonderful comments on my post so far. With it being the holiday week, things are a bit insane on my end (I’m actually trying to enjoy the holidays this year – the jury is still out on that one), so I’ll be answering your individual comments one by one as soon as I can. Please be patient with me, and Know how much I appreciate all of your kind words! ❤ ~ Nina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Juliette!! My apologies for the late reply; end of year/start of year behind-the-scenes work kept me away.

      Keep coming back, there will be much more angst, pain, and horror amongst the posts here on Pen of the Damned! We’re very happy to deliver more, and more, and more! 🙂


  6. Wonderful story, Nina, I love all the ways you used the colors. I really felt the emotion of the main character. The ending surprised me, in a good way. I was ready to fall off the balcony with the protagonist into the Great White Yonder. Then was happy to back inside and finish that glass of wine. Great stuff!


    1. Thank you, Brian! She almost took that plunge at the end… but to be true to herself, she needed to admit she just didn’t have the courage to let it end. I love this piece, and it is beyond blissful to know that others appreciate it as well. Now, back away from the keyboard and refill that wine glass, or grab another beer! lol

      Sincerely, thank you, Brian. 😀


  7. First, thank you everyone for reading my angst ridden prose, and leaving such kind comments on it – it means the world to me to know this type of expression has a place where it can be truly appreciated.

    I’m going to address a point that many made, and I’m going to do it as a blanket response – please don’t think I ignored the sincerity in the individual comments.

    Many people have a difficult time around the holidays (or what are significant days to them) due to loss or self-deprecation. This story isn’t written to provoke that in the least, but to convey a powerful piece of fictional prose utilizing the emotions at our disposal as writers.

    Many comments on this piece address the issue of suffering over the holiday season. Please don’t think me callus, but I for one have always felt it was more important to focus on what each person has, or had the opportunity to experience at one time, around these occasions. I am not someone who loves Christmas, though I was for most of my life; I am not someone who even celebrates the holidays as to do so would dredge up a great deal of pain, but it would also pull forward wonderful memories of a family I no longer have.

    That said, if anyone reads this and feels the weight of the piece as an expression of the emotional burden the holidays can carry, they should read it again. This entire piece is a devotional to love and happy experiences, though told through tears. I think that’s one of the beauties of horror; you can write something that feels utterly horrible, because maybe you do feel utterly horrible, yet express hidden gems of joy at the same time. This is not directed toward any of the kind words left about my story, but as a general statement on how many feel a need to downgrade or temper their own happiness because others live different lives. Everyone has a right to their own happiness, just as those who suffer have a right to be allowed to feel their pain. This is not a piece that targets pain, it’s one that reflects it, and emotional pain can only be a reflection of hope, love and joy. Without hope, love and joy, we, as human animals, do not understand what depths of pain can be felt, endured, and overcome. So, strange as this may seem, when reading Red and Blue, know the main character lives so she may celebrate the pain of loss, because at one time she had so very much and chooses to honor it, not bury it, not hide from it, but embrace it and survive her battle by refusing to allow it to crush what she cherishes.

    I hope my message is succinct enough that anyone who experiences a difficult time around the holidays – and I’m right there with you – understands that without ever having known the loss of how sweet something is, we can never genuinely appreciate life and everything that comes along with it in a healthy, though often brutally painful way.

    Sermon over, apologies to anyone this may have offended, and once again, many, many thanks to those who took the time to read and comment on Red and Blue. ~ Nina ❤


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