Under a Blood Red Sky

I prised my bloodshot eyes open, only to be hit with a searing hot gust of wind. Sprawled on the side of a dusty road, my hand reached for my pocket where I felt the comforting outline of my flask.

I took a swig, the desert landscape swimming before my eyes. But I could still see you. Your warm coffee brown eyes gazing at me and your soft lips parted. I stretched out my arm, but only felt the wind. If I had my chance again, it would be different. I swear to God, it would be different.

I stumbled back into the grungy bar that I had stumbled out the night before.

And there she was again. So different to the other dead-eyed girls who accosted me as soon as I walked in, swinging their hips and trawling for dollars.


She wore a faded blue apron and a yellow ribbon in her hair; the only splash of colour in this drab place. The ribbon cruelly reminded me of your favourite lemon coloured sundress. I recalled how it skimmed your thighs as you slowly swayed to the music. Back when my hand was steady and my mind clear, I would mix pigments on my palette and paint pictures of you. Only you.

I unsteadily perched on a bar stool and drank from my flask. She shyly smiled at me as I spoke, her soft lips parted and her warm coffee coloured eyes locked with mine. I could imagine myself running my fingers through her long brown hair and caressing her dusky skin. It would be different this time, I would make sure of it.

It had been hard to let go of you. Even as you lay there dying, I could not bring myself to walk away. Your glassy coffee coloured eyes, your parched parted lips and the red bloody gash on your forehead. I sat there and tenderly caressed you until you took your last breath. It was not supposed to end this way. It was never my intention to hurt you. But I could not change the past and I had to think about my future.


A familiar hot wave of jealousy now washed over me as the girl tended to a customer. I bided my time as I drained my flask of its very last drop and she eventually returned to me.


“Wanna get out of here?” I drawled. The girl glanced around nervously before nodding her head.


She quickly untied her apron and my eyes lowered to a badge pinned to her dress. The Virgin Mary intently gazed back at me. Devoted, faithful and pure. The icon, so incongruous in its ugly surroundings, made my heart skip a beat. It was a sign. I snaked my arm around her waist as we walked out the door.


She would be my new beginning and this time it would surely be different.


Published in Sledgehammer Literary on May 7th 2021


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