Something Red

1 Sep

by Maddie Brown
8th Grade

I pressed my body between the damp wood. The scent of mold greeted me yet again. I stayed in-between the shadows, not to be noticed. It was an art I had to perfect, for when you’re wicked it’s best to stay out of sight.

Slowly I crept towards the silver storage house. There were holes where the rust had gone unnoticed for decades, leaving the perfect spot for brave birds.

The more I stole from here, the less I noticed the stench, but I wasn’t quiet there. I wrinkled my nose, looking to make sure the guards were on the other side of the cylinder.

The rusty lock crumbled in my hands. As I opened the door it emitted a loud squeak. I snatched a semi-rotten fish from the pile, and dashed to the safety of the passage, between the blacksmith and carver.

“All I saw was red,” someone said from above.

“It’s that devil, and we all know it,” someone else added.

Devil, that’s what they called me. Red hair, red dress, that enough proved I was a devil.

The passages under the village were filled with wet and murky water.  As I stepped through them, I heard the echo of the droplets of water. Even the mice hid from me.

I broke through the dark into a wall of fog.

I heard the merciless waves throwing themselves against the cliff.

I tried to pull my coat closer to my body but I still shivered.

My fingers began to go numb, but I found it hard to move back into the passage. The villagers said this was a happy, sunny place. But devils change things. I changed it. Just like I changed Eddy.

A lone seagull flew overhead, alone like me.

“You’re wicked, Jia. A wicked little girl,” I remember Papa saying, as he dumped me on this sandy shore. “Your brother’s dead and it’s all your fault.”

It took a while to get into my head, but he was right. I pushed Eddy off that cliff, expecting him to float to safety. But he didn’t.

Meanwhile, I, in my little red dress, stood over him with great excitement. The impulse of revenge had suddenly taken over me, a feeling that needed to be heard.

Maybe after ten years of stealing and contemplating, someone should feel guilty.

But that’s the great thing about being wicked. Wicked girls don’t feel guilty.

A drop of brown water silently created a pool on my nose. I moved to the side, so it couldn’t get me.

This mine came out where the rotting water could rejoin the sea, to start a redeeming journey. If I was the water, I could leave and begin again, somewhere else. But I was stuck here, alone.

There was a stone bridge above my head that led out of town. It was never used, making my hiding place all the more secure.

The blur from the hill caught my eye. Through the wall of fog, I made out a sort of human-looking figure. I pulled my shawl closer so I wouldn’t be seen. The stain moved closer, it was coming to me.

His name was Thomas. Droopy blonde hair and blue eyes, Thomas was ordinary trouble. I knew I should have run, but I didn’t.

“Hello,” he said, like it was perfectly ordinary to see someone in a mine.

“Hi,” I turned my head away to discourage him from continuing the conversation. Although, I didn’t quite want him to leave. The idea of speaking to a person thrilled me.

“I haven’t seen you here before,” he commented.

“I prefer not to be seen.”

He crossed his arms. “Why?” he demanded.

Great, he’s clueless. I shrugged.

“So you just sit in this bat cave all day?” he asked humorously.

“No.”

“Want to come out?”

“No.” Maybe he’d go away.

“Alright then, we’ll sit here.”

When did I ever say we? Didn’t he see the red? I knew he’d heard the tales. They threatened kids with horrible stories about the devil who stole from the village.

There was an awkward silence between us before I asked, “Are you sure you want to sit next to me?”

“Are you determined to get rid of me?” I’d only seen Thomas once or twice, but I knew this humor was the way he got small town girls to swoon.

It wouldn’t work on me. “Don’t you recognize me?”

“I think the statement, ‘I haven’t seen you before,’ explains that.”

Oh great, a smarty pants.

“I really hope this isn’t where you live,” Thomas said.

“And what if it is?” I snapped.

“Geez, I was just joking. Why do you stay all cooped up in here anyways?”

I don’t believe most girls would easily spill out their deepest secrets to the first person off the street, but I was starved for conversation. “Wicked things stay hidden,” I responded, like a robot.

“Wicked?” he laughed. “You don’t seem wicked to me.”

“You don’t know anything,” I spat, horrified at my own rudeness.

“Then fill me in.”

I took a deep breath. Maybe opening up wouldn’t be so terrible. “I killed my brother.”

Thomas whistled. “You don’t seem like a murderer.”

“Everything is not what it seems.”

I told him how I pushed Eddy from the cliff, just before he reached safety, and that even though he landed on a ledge the fall had been enough to kill him. That after, my father hadn’t wanted me and had dropped me here.

“Steep ledge?” Thomas asked.

“No, it was only three or four feet down.”

“You’re telling me that a three-foot drop killed a twelve-year old boy? That’s impossible…”

“Jia,” I said, realizing we’d gone this whole time without a proper introduction.

“Jia, your father lied to you. Maybe Eddy did die but it wasn’t because of you.”

I let a thread of hope sew itself into my heart but I yanked it out.

“And assuming you’ve been living in a bat cave for ten years, you’ve let a lie ruin your life. You don’t see how great the world is around you,” Thomas continued.

“Do too!”

“Oh yeah?” he said in a betting tone of voice.

He pulled me from the safety of the mine. The smell of sea salt overpowered my nostrils. I was unprepared for the cold chill of the water, and the sand in-between my toes, as Thomas dragged me into the water. The last time I had been this close to the sea, was when Eddy had died. I jumped back horrified.

Thomas didn’t notice as he picked up a blue shell. “What do you see when you look at this?” Thomas asked.

“A shell,” I said, simply.

“What color?”

“Blue.”

“You describe things so simple. Doesn’t it look the least bit magical to you?” Thomas pondered, almost like he wasn’t talking to me.

I looked closer to see what he meant. Shades of purple and turquoise accompanied the blue. I’d never noticed these shells. I’d always spent my time reading the latest book I’d taken from the library, or attempting to sketch something. I took it in my palm and sat on the sand (which I regretted since the sand was cold and wet).

I threw the shell back into the water. “I’m evil Thomas, and that’s just the way it is.”

“You know my name?” He pretend-gasped.

I pulled my knees to my chest, and rested my head there.

“Alright Jia, we’ll do this—”

“Why are you so determined to help me?” I shouted.

Thomas looked startled, to say the least, but he recovered. “I don’t like seeing people who aren’t living life to the fullest.” He took another shell from the water. But this one was red as blood. “What is your last name by the way?”

“Morris. Jia Morris.”

Thomas paused again. He pulled something round from the pocket of his jacket. It was the town’s local paper, or at least it had been. The lines had run together making it look like nothing but blotches.

Only one article was still partly legible.

The Ten-Year Anniversary of Eddy Morris’ s Death

Ten years ago Eddy Morris, son of Mil Morris, was killed after miraculously recovering from a minor cliff fall. He was killed in a horse riding accident in July. His family, Pam, Mil, and Jianna remember him until this day.

I looked at the paper and felt my heart swell in a sort of happiness. My brother was still dead, but I’d known that for years. The part about knowing I was innocent made me happy. I even ignored the feeling of betrayal from my father.

I took the shell from Thomas. Maybe he was right.

Something red wasn’t always evil.

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