Here are the entries into our ‘Write Red’ competition. I was very impressed with the standard. Which is your favourite?
I have a photograph. It was taken of my family on some big occasion that I now forget. Everyone together. It was the 70’s so we are all dressed in brown and beige. Even the photo itself has started to yellow and fade, and we disappear into it. My uncle stands out. He wears that familiar smile, but his eyes glow red. We laughed when we saw it: “Poor Uncle Karl, he won’t like that one.” But now I think the camera saw deeper than all of us. It betrayed the very nature of his soul.
The brush trembled on the approach. But as it touched down, it steadied. One smooth stroke down the centre of the nail, glistening red in its wake.
Two more strokes, sure and steady then the nail was held aloft and admired. That one fingernail now expressed everything Alex felt inside. Sassy, fearless, proud and seductive. One crook of it would have people drop to their knees.
Slowly it dried into the hard protective armour he craved. Then he scraped it off with his thumbnail. Pushing hard to feel the pain. One day every nail would be ruby red.
Scarlet, princess of neon Soho and thigh-high boots.
Prostitute, never afraid of ‘whore’. Wildcats are still cats, after all.
Prowling in skimpy black with overcoat armour.
A predator in the Sleepless City, but not the Apex.
Yuppie redhead dyed black. Tastelessly rich. Meat.
Men like you shouldn’t be alone, sweetie.
Three-sixty. Clientèle’s predictable arrogance.
All food is welcome in Vice’s Jungle.
Her Studio, the Den.
Meat fearfully tenderises.
But this isn’t Becky.
Baby wipes, hot shower and strawberry lipstick.
Meat eaten, leaves bare. Forgotten.
Stockings check, modesty check, self-respect…
On the hunt again, this Princess of Soho.
Red Clichés Make Me See Red! Or Take It As Read!
The sun seen through my eyelids
A clotted knot of scarlet scab
Or it might be
My cheeks burning with embarrassment
Blind fury, seeing red.
A goblet of gently swirling merlot,
Vegas volt lipstick on a plump pout;
Red words invite me:
Cerise cherry and burgundy
Ruby, claret, garnet,
Maroon and cranberry.
Red flag, red rag,
Red handed, in the red,
Do Red herrings lead you up the creek, on a Red letter day?
Oliver holds his plate painstakingly level as he moves to His seat. The sweet corn is not touching the golden chips. Three pallid fish fingers are precisely parallel. All is correct. He sits.
Cutlery is carefully inspected, wiped, re-inspected. Clean. His yellow mug stands exactly at the centre of his yellow coaster. All is well. He waits now for Grace who never arrives.
‘Are you ready Oliver?’ the new dinner lady innocently enquires.
Oliver’s face turns puce; his mouth vomits a scarlet scream ‘No reddy!’ as his plate skids across the dining room floor and smashes into the wall.
The Crimson Couple
Sitting on opposing sofas the two guests got comfortable while Desmond and Melissa arranged drinks. They both came back with goblets and a bottle of Merlot that Desmond was holding rather oddly.
“Looks good?” said Desmond
“If it gets me merry then it’s good” said the male guest
“Ah the bottle opener’s over here”
Desmond got behind his guest while Melissa stood behind hers. Removing the top of the wine bottle revealed a hidden blade which Desmond plunged into his guest’s skull. On cue Melissa slit her guest’s throat pouring blood into the goblet.
“Well… here’s the menu” said Desmond
“Don’t do nothing stupid,” he warned with his gruff whisky voice, “Like crossing when the red light’s showing.”
He eyed our beer in the car boot with contempt. I put the casserole dish on the car roof.
“Please thank Mrs Griggs for the food.”
“Couple didn’t listen last month, only got halfway across. Had to get Ol’ Bill Weekly’s rowing boat out to them. Jabbering ‘scuses they were, making no sense.”
He gave a guilt-inducing stare and pointed his pipe at the cottage.
“I’ve used generators before, sir.” Nick stood up straight. Mr Griggs hesitated then turned towards his quad bike.
“Best get back then, afore the tide comes up.”
“We should unpack before dark.” Nick said, watching the quad bike bump across the causeway. I agreed and took the beer he was offering. We leaned against the car, drinking, watching and not talking.
‘Have you seen this Major?’
Borodin turned from the window, the frozen figures on Nevsky Prospekt below, the Zenit stadium hazy beyond the projects. Taking the sanitary towel from the child soldier Kerensky, glancing at the English policeman Borodin held it to his nose.
‘The blood is not a woman’s.’
Catching the red rag, Kerensky stared at the KGB legend he had been warned not to trust.
‘I’m joking, Yevgeny. Get it checked. Sergeant..?’
The English policeman who was not a policeman stepped over the corpse, lighting a cigarette joined Borodin at the window.
‘His Excellency, he was a gay?’
Skinner blew smoke into the freezing air between them.
‘Only in his spare time…’