Study of Living (400)

She paints her lips crimson.

This is her favourite part of lipstick, the way the fresh red colour conjures up images of blood and stands out starkly on pale skin, untouched by sunlight.

(the colour is her favourite of all, and the best part is the fact that red is the season’s newest style. ladies everywhere have commissioned furnishings and paintings, clothing and decorations all in red –

never makeup though)

An old-style gown is awaiting her, hung over the back of the door, and she grapples her way into it, too impatient to wait for assistance and too irritable to be careful with the little buttons. Sure enough she hears, rather than feels, a thread giving way under the pressure.

Her hair is tossed and rumpled, and she doesn’t care enough to fix it.

In this society, people would look askance at her if they saw her: her clothes, too old for the era; makeup, applied expertly but too bold and unfeminine for the time. The few who do see her tut behind her back, when they think she doesn’t hear.

Still, she hears it all and the whispers never last long.

She slides through the evening, heeled boots clattering over cobbled street and her vision unimpeded by fog. Her lips are the colour of blood, fresh blood right now but already the colour is drying on her lips, darkening with its oxygen-exposure. Soon, she knows from experience, the freshness will be diluted to the darker red of dried blood, coagulated and clumped.

(red is her colour, the one she knows by heart. she’s worn every shade, after all)

At this time of night, it doesn’t matter that her clothes are too old-fashioned or her makeup too unusual. She is not an eccentric, after all.

The rustle of her dress is all she hears as she paces the paths, out looking for dinner. People are few and far between at this point of night, all preferring to be at home securely – safe from creatures haunting the street. Still, humans are fascinating creatures: they trust easily enough, and are not yet cautious enough.

She finds someone, and blood spills easily. Her lips are painted fresh red again – truly blood-red this time, a thin line running down her chin, a dull dark red taking over her vision.

If only society’s ladies could see her now.

7 thoughts on “Study of Living (400)”

  1. Beautiful gothic tale. I love how you used the red of her lipstick as a sticking point through out the story. The colour red carried the reader through as you told your story. I knew the end was coming when she would drink blood but I was also kind of waiting for it, and I can imagine this macabre image of her in her out of date tattered gown with blood running down her chin. I also liked how you compared blood to pale skin. One reason I am not a big fan of red lipstick or red dresses is the way it looks against my skin. I am white and pale and I the red stands out too much for me. It’s interesting that it was the perfect color for her.


    1. *flails quietly* Thank you for the lovely words!
      I would’ve answered sooner, but I only just crept out from under the desk where I hide when I get an especially lovely piece of feedback. I go all shy and awkward. I hoped it’d be kind of apparent as to what might happen; I was thinking all the cliches you get about red = blood, passion, life etc. It felt very gothic to me when I was mapping it out.
      (Argh, I’m not being as articulate as I would like to, so I will just thank you again 🙂 )


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s