Red; a short story of lost love.

Neither of us is happy
but neither of us wants to leave.
so we keep breaking one another
and calling it love.
– Rupi Kaur


“Alexandra? Alexandra!”

Alexandra held her breath, pressing into the small area she was hiding. Her heart beat erratically in her chest as his footsteps neared. She shut her eyes, praying he wouldn’t find her.
“Darling, you better come out now,” he whispered, as if perceiving she was near.
“Come out. I won’t hurt you.”
Alexandra almost scoffed. She had believed that before, a long time ago when she thought sunset was pretty and nighttime was bliss. When she’d danced among the flowers in their garden, happy and carefree. When she’d let her hair loose and watched him smile as it fell in waves down her back.
“I like your hair down,” he’d told her several times, removing the band and running a hand through the thick mane.
She’d believed he wouldn’t hurt her when he whispered sweet nothings into her ears. When every touch had made her skin tingle and her heart soar with delicious promises. When every gaze had held affection. Passion. Love.
But she didn’t believe him now.
“You know I love you, right?”
Alexandra smiled bitterly. It was ironic. A cruel twist of fate. The words she’d loved to hear were now the ones used to lure her away from her hiding place. Her safe place. He’d told her several times, and she had believed.
A small part of her still did.
“Come out now, Sunset.” He was dangerously close to her now, but she didn’t move. Didn’t even breathe. She couldn’t dare to.
Sunset. Red. Darling.
He called her many things, and she had become so accustomed to hearing them that she knew the implication every time he used each name.
Red; things were good. He was in a good mood. Those were the times he would smile at her and be somewhat like how he used to be. Somewhat, because he wasn’t that man anymore. He had called her Red when they had first met, even after she told him her name.
“Why do you call me Red?”
He held a strand of her hair and coiled it around his finger. “I’d be damned if this ain’t red.”
Alexandra smiled coyly, and the name stuck.
Somehow, that name mocked her. The use both tallied and contrasted with the word. Sunset was the beginning of the night. The dark. She loved the dark, or at least she used to, until she came face to face with the darkness in her own home.
Alexandra used to love watching the sunset- the colours that looked like the strokes of a painter, vivid, yet unclear, merging into different hues and forms. Pink, purple.. Red.
The colour that had flowed from her when he hit her for the first time.
Alexandra felt her heart constrict in pain. It had been a shock. In a few seconds her world had come crumbling down around her, and for the first time she saw what it had truly been- a fantasy.
It wasn’t a fantasy anymore. It was a reality. Her reality.
And, try as she might, she couldn’t run away from it. He would always find her. He said that many times, and she believed.
So why hide away like a coward, cowering like a slave?
Alexandra clenched her fist. She wasn’t a slave! She was his wife! She had given him everything. Her life, her love, her loyalty. How dare he treat her as less?
Alexandra stood on shaky legs, taking steady breaths to calm her racing heart. Then she stepped out to face him.
He stood before her, tall and beautiful. Menacing and dangerous. His back was to her, and she said nothing to alert him of her presence. He would know. He always knew.
Matthias turned to face her, and for a split second, surprise registered on his features. Then his expression became calm and collected. Expressionless.
Alexandra already knew what was coming.
A smile spread on Matthias’s lips. Those lips that had declared so much love. The lips she had loved on hers. So many..
Alexandra shook herself out of her thoughts. What was wrong with her? How could she be so attracted to someone she feared so much?
Her emotions were in a turmoil, as always.
“Look who came out to play,” Matthias chuckled, stepping close to her. His steps were measured and sure, and she felt like a prey being perused by a predator.
Her bravado faltered slightly.
Keep calm, Alexandra, she told herself. Not that it helped.
Matthias tipped her chin so she could meet his gaze. Hers was filled with determination…and fear. His were cold and hard. Dead. Sometimes she tried hard to find the man she had known and loved in those eyes, but she never did. He was gone. And this cold man had taken his place.
“Why do you run from me, Sunset?” Matthias trailed a finger down her cheek, past her chin and to her neck. She swallowed, struggling to form words.
Alexandra winced as his hand tightened on her neck. Air whooshed out of her, and she wheezed, struggling for air.
“Why?” Matthias shouted, still strangling her. His eyes were heated, and hatred radiated off him in waves.
“Pl-please,” Alexandra choked. Black spots danced before her eyes, and she struggled against him.
Then, suddenly, he let her go.
Alexandra fell to her feet, gasping for air. Her throat hurt, and she knew there would be red marks on her neck.
Matthias crouched to face her, smiling cynically. “You can run, Sunset, but you can’t hide.” He patted her hair and kissed her cheek. Alexandra grimaced. The kiss of death.
Matthias stood, gave her one last glance, and walked away. Alexandra watched him go, relieved that he hadn’t done worse. Maybe he had a business meeting. Maybe he went off to meet one of his many mistresses. Maybe he was off to make some philanthropic speeches at a donation. She didn’t care. What mattered was, he wasn’t here.
But he would be back.


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