This weeks challenge is to write about the red lipstick. Maybe it was a stain, or the wrong colour, an unwanted gift, or perhaps the mark of something darker.
I knew, because the door was open. She always left the door open. Tempting any one who dared, to enter her lair. The glow of her signature rouge emanated from under the belly of the door.
I touched my fingertip to my mouth. She’d smothered that red across my lips two nights ago.
I took a deep breath and pushed the door open, knowing she’d fallen off the wagon. Knowing I wouldn’t want to see what was inside.
My heart thudded against my ribs. As I surveyed the room a straight jacket of panic crushed the air out of my lungs. Why did this feel familiar?
I slammed my eyes shut. I couldn’t look anymore.
But images still flashed through my mind. The bed. The floor. The red.
Blood. Everywhere. White sheets and walls splattered with the artwork of a murderer.
I crumbled to my knees. My hands falling into something wet. I squeezed my eyelids harder. I didn’t want to look. Bile clawed at my throat and I heaved into the air.
I swallowed hard when the wretch ing stopped. I’d believed everything she’d said. I’d let myself fall into her arms while she told me how beautiful I was and that my kind of beauty should last forever.
I shuddered. Ice collecting on my spine.
She was here.
I blinked. Fixing my state on the room. Only this time, when I gazed at the red ocean covering the furniture, a strange ache gnawed at my insides and the room no longer smelt acidic. It smelt like dinner.
I touched my lip again, memories oozing into my thoughts. My fingers slipped to my neck.
It had never been lipstick.
The smooth curve to her voice wrapped around me, and told me she was smiling. Of course she was. She’d won. I looked at the bed, the shadow of a body still imprinted in the blood. My blood. My body.
“I told you, your beauty should live forever,” she said, draping her arms around my neck. Her breathe stank like metal but it made saliva pool in my mouth.
I was. I really was.
Now to last weeks writespiration and drowning.
Helen joined in with a gorgeous piece of flash
She gasped for air, her hands clutching and sliding on skin as she fell. Her eyes closed as she sank down, softness and warmth all around. She managed another breath, her senses reeling, consciousness receding as things went dark and all that was left was sensation. There was no more air, her body buffeted, prey to forces beyond her control. She could not cry out, her mouth sealed, stars bursting behind her closed eyelids.
Then light returned and with it breath and she was cold all over. Trembling, she reached out her arms, wanting oblivion.
It came with another kiss and she was gone, drowning once more.
Geoffle has a killer entry this week, with a killer ending!
It was the fourth pint when Derrick understood, for the first time, the reason why it was called drowning your sorrows. As he stared at the glass of lager he imagined he saw Colette reflected in the surface, tears on her cheeks as she covered her mouth with her hand to hide the horror of what she had just witnessed. It was his life flashing before him – that’s what happened when you went down for the third time, wasn’t it? It was that fateful moment when she realised the truth. He studied the face of the only women he had ever loved. How could the surface of frothy beer be so life-like? How…? Derrick’s head jerked back as Colette’s fist met his temple. On the floor he winced as her stiletto pierced his aorta. ‘You lying fucker,’ were the last words he heard as the blood entered his lungs, drowning him far more effectively than any amount of shit beer.
Next, Sarah, with one hell of an ending, and I don’t know about you, but I’m desperate to know what happens next.
Lady of the Lake by Sarah Brentyn
At the end of the dock, Phoebe dipped her toe in the lake. Her grip on the post so tight, it left indentations in her palms. She watched the still water. No girls floated by in bikinis, sunning themselves. No guys ran down the dock and jumped high in the air shouting “cannonball!” No children sat in the sand, slathered with sunscreen, digging with plastic shovels.
Everyone was out walking, searching, calling. Looking for Phoebe’s sister, Kaia. They wouldn’t find her. She was gone. Drowned. Of this, Phoebe was certain. She hadn’t let go until Kaia sank.
Hugh’s up next with this cracker of a piece with an awesome ending.
Alan was drowning. He was drowning fast and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
The moment the water first hit his lips he could feel the drowning sensation all over his body. Panic set in and nothing he could do would stop him from drowning. Not even the call from his wife mattered!
He put his glass of water down as soon as he heard his wife slam the front door.
“YES!” he screamed at the top of his voice.
The writers block had finally given way and he was drowning in words again.
He didn’t know she was watching him. She’d have died if he’d turned and seen how her eyes were running all over his swimmer’s body, lapping at the muscles sliding beneath his white skin like a cat at a saucer of milk. He raised his arms, flexed his knees and plunged, powerful and graceful as a big cat, a cat with no fear of water. The waves broke and closed over his head, his white body sliding beneath the green with scarcely a splash.
She let out her breath slowly; afraid the slight ripple of the air might dispel the magic. She watched the ocean, the oil-smooth surface, for his reappearance. The shouts and laughter of the other bathers on the family beach further along the coast barely reached her consciousness. Rocks. A sliver, a crescent moon of silver sand. Ocean. And him, the boy with a shock of jet black hair and skin white as milk, swimming through the darkness, easy as a seal.
The breeze lifted a lock of her hair and flipped it into her eyes. She shook it back and peered intently at the empty waves. She was holding her breath again, and anxiety nestled in the pit of her stomach. The sun had shifted, she was sure. How long was it? Far too long. He must have had an accident, a malaise. She should get help.
She leapt to her feet, scattering sand; ran to the water’s edge. Foam fizzed about her toes. She raised a hand to shield the sun from her eyes and scanned the water, further and further, impossibly far out towards the shining horizon. Breath came short and sharp, in little staccato bursts. She saw him at last, far, far away, a round black point amid the wave glitter. Her heart leapt and settled back with relief, pounding in her ears. But the bobbing head was joined by another, and another. Not human then. Seals.
She ran along the strand, slipping on half-concealed rocks, splashing through the shallow water, yelling when she was within earshot of the coast guard.
“Up at the cove, you say? A black-headed boy, skin the colour of new milk?” The coastguard shook his head. “He’ll not be back before morning.”
“Don’t you worry about him. He’s safe where he is.”
In bewilderment, she watched as the seals played, rolling and diving, and the sun sank slow and red. She half-knew what the coast guard meant. Knew what she wanted to understand at least. The breeze blew colder now and whined about the rocks with a different voice. She shivered in her cotton jumper, but she would wait until the morning. Just to see, to know for sure.
Next, Ali, with a sneaky peak from her first novel Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean (The Tir Na Nog Trilogy Book 1)
Conor felt himself flying backwards through the air, much as his wheelchair had done before him. He landed with a loud splash somewhere in the middle of the lake. The coldness of the water forced him to exhale. He felt the water close over his head, as he plummeted down, down through the icy water. He looked up, and saw the surface way above him.
How can this tiny patch of water be so deep?
When he looked down, all he saw was a black void. No sign of the bottom.
Is this how my life is supposed to end?
The pressure was building up in his lungs. He needed air. In a few seconds, he would have to take a breath, it was a reflex he knew he couldn’t override. But he was afraid.
Will it hurt to breathe in water?
Then he remembered a promise made to him in a dream, and he felt the warm tingling rush of magic inside.
Lugh, are you here? I have come to join you.
“I am always here for you, Conor,” replied Lugh, swimming along beside him and smiling. The silvery whiteness of his hair lit up the gloom of the water.
“Have courage, it’s not much further.”
I can’t hold on any longer. I have to breathe.
“Not just yet. We are very nearly there.”
Conor felt his feet scrape the bottom, his body landing gently on the lake floor.
“Take it!” said Lugh urgently.
“Reach out with your hands. It’s your only chance.”
Conor scrabbled around in the silt. His hands closed around something hard, narrow and flat.
Is this it?
“Yes. Take it, and all will be well.”
Conor grasped the object and tugged feebly to dislodge it from the sucking mud of the lake bed, but it was too late.
He opened his mouth and took in a big gulp.
Much like his first ever breath, the pain and the shock of it convulsed his body. As his consciousness drifted away he was vaguely aware of someone, or something, pulling him by the hair. Far away, someone was saying his name.
Then there was nothing.
A gush of steam from the coffee machine startled me out of my thoughts. Perched on a high stool in The King of Hearts, a lukewarm mocha on the ledge in front of me, I stared out of the window, waiting for Rosemary, a girl I had met at university ten years ago. In the background, the hum of voices: a mishmash of customers, staff and snatches of popular songs from the radio. On the opposite side of the road was Fye Bridge, which I recognised from a ghost walk: the bridge where they used to duck witches.
I checked my mobile for texts and the time. Rosemary was fifteen minutes late, true to her nickname from our uni days – the late Rosemary. It didn’t matter. I was on a week’s break and had plenty of time. Rosemary, on the other hand, could only manage forty minutes for lunch. That was okay too, as we had planned a film and a meal for the end of the week, before I returned to London.
A gurgle from my stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten. My sudden appetite was whetted by the aroma of home-made French onion soup and toasted sandwiches, and I twisted on my stool to catch the attention of a member of staff. The place was empty. No customers, nobody behind the counter – and a chilling silence.
Turning back to the window, I was confronted by a mass of faces pressing against the glass. I spotted the woman who served my mocha, and an elderly man who had been reading a newspaper in the far corner when I first entered. Their faces were distorted with hatred and fear, all eyes on me. I pulled on my jacket against the sudden chill. A tall man in a long cloak and a black hat stood inside the door, staring at me.
I squirmed on my stool. I felt numb. My heartbeat quickened. There was a strange buzz in my ears and, although I could see their mouths opening and closing, I could not hear the crowd. I figured out the words from the shape of their lips, ‘Witch! Witch! Sink or swim!’
The dark figure shifted from the threshold of the café until he stood beside me, digging his steely fingers into my upper arm.
‘It is useless to struggle. You must come with me.’
My tongue clove to the roof of my mouth. Words congealed in my throat. I tried to resist but I was dragged out of the door and onto the bridge. No cars or buses. No hum of distant traffic. Just the menacing mob filling the bridge and spilling onto the river banks.
As rough hands pushed me onto a wooden contraption – a ducking stool – I peered down at the murky water below me. It looked deeper than I remembered. I felt the burn of stiff rope pulled tightly around my wrists and ankles, a twist of trepidation in my gut as I was lowered into the river. The undercurrent dragged at my jacket and droplets ran from my hair and eyelashes. I rose to the surface and was ducked again. And then, from out of nowhere, a hand gripped mine and pulled. Above me, the crowd erupted: ‘The witch has a familiar!’
Through the water I could just make out a face. It was Rosemary’s, a small crowd of customers and café staff behind her. I emerged from the water like a half-drowned cat. The woman who had served my mocha came forward with a blanket, which she wrapped around me, and Rosemary gently guided me back into the warmth.