Midnight black and ruby red—the combination was lethal. Together, the two colors changed my world. It divided my world. My life was blue when eyes were watching, but it turned red under the cover of dark. With black, I could give up nothing. I could have the best of more than one color.
The red handkerchief was the first thing I noticed about the man. It looked so alluring against his black suit. My family would never think of wearing such a riotous color—we only wore blue—but I didn’t understand my family’s abhorrence of red. It was eye catching. It was lovely.
The gentleman with the red handkerchief took interest in me, even if I was wearing dreary blue. I was flattered by the attention and intrigued by a man who would wear such a daring color. I was surprised when he asked if he might see me again. I told him he may.
What made me say such a thing? I could not entertain a gentleman who wore red. For generations, my family only mixed with those who wore blue. My parents would not approve of me meeting with this man. The colors should not mix. It wasn’t just my family’s disproval that caused me guilt. I was engaged.
The gentleman to whom I was engaged had kind blue eyes and a soft smile. We knew each other since we were small. Our family’s whispered to each other that we were a perfect match. We were in love since childhood. When he proposed, I didn’t hesitate to give my answer. I couldn’t think of anyone else with whom I would want to spend the rest of my life.
I hadn’t changed my mind. I still loved my gentleman in blue. One meeting with a wearer of red wouldn’t displace my loyalty to him. All my life I was kept from those who wore red. I was curious about the man with a ruby handkerchief. I would only meet him once, and my gentleman in blue would never know.
The meeting that was supposed to be our last became our first. He asked to see me again, and before I could stop myself, I agreed. Before we parted, he pulled out a scarlet handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it into my hand. I was thrilled to have such a color touching my skin. I was ashamed to have the color touching my skin. I held the cloth of red out for him to take and told him that I couldn’t have it. I was spoken for by a gentleman of blue. I couldn’t be seen holding red.
He pulled from his pocket a handkerchief made of black silk. He laid the red one on top and folded the dark one over it, so that black was all that showed. I was pleased. I could have the color red without depredating my relationship with anyone who wore blue.
As I wore my sapphire dress and danced with my gentleman in the blue waste coat, I smiled to myself, knowing that red was in my possession. I was committed to my man in blue, but life was just a little more exciting with the bright, daring color.
The more I met with the man in red, the more I became enamored with him and the color he wore and the less I was attracted to blue. My gentleman in blue wasn’t as appealing as he once was. His sky colored eyes weren’t as bright. His smile was no longer charming. His conversation bored me. The color of oceans drowned my spirit. The color of cherries nourished my soul.
The color of midnight freed me. Red could always be veiled in black. How clever was the gentleman with the red handkerchief, for it was his idea to give me items of black with red hidden in them. He gave me a black rose with a red glass bead buried inside, an ebony box which inside was lined with scarlet colored velvet, a black pocket watch that opened to reveal ruby colored hands and numbers, satin gloves that were black on the outside and bright red on the inside.
I wore red as I mingled with the ladies and gentlemen in their blue silks, but they didn’t see it. My dress was sky blue, but the petticoats and corset were deep scarlet. The locket I wore about my throat was the color of coal, but if opened would show red.
I wore cobalt while blue eyes were watching, but as I walked to meet my man in red, a scarlet gown was concealed under a black cloak. I dutifully danced with my partner in blue before slipping away to meet my wearer of red in the dark of an unused hall. There we danced to the echoes of music from a few doors down. Red was an exciting secret. And black made it possible.
It was a dangerous game I played: keeping the people of blue from seeing red. I lived a life of blue by light, and a life of red by the cover of dark. I thought I could do it forever, but red was too bright a color to be hidden—even under black.
Red was discovered on my person and I was forced to expose all. My parents were furious. I had disgraced them with my little game of colors. It wasn’t my parent’s anger that shamed me as much as the look of the gentleman in blue. His sea colored eyes were clouded with pain. I couldn’t look at them.
My parents demanded that I never see the red wearing man again and that I destroy everything in my possession that was red. The gentleman in blue told me we could start over. We could forget that my rendezvous with red had ever happened. I couldn’t forget. I didn’t want to forget anymore than I wanted to destroy my red. Blue was shame. Red was guilt-free.
By the cover of a moonless midnight sky, I left blue and was embraced by red. Now I could wear red boldly without the cover of black. I was free from black. I was free from blue. All I wore was red.
My red wearing gentleman took me in, and red consumed me until I lost myself. The color of apples, the color of roses—how wonderful to see it all the time. The color of blood, the color of violence—that was to what I truly gave myself.
It didn’t take me long to realize I had made a bitter choice. Red was the color of rage, the color of blood on my lip. By the cover of a starless sky, I fled from red.
I was foolish enough to discard blue. I was fortunate enough to escape red. I was forced into black. I once wore sapphire silk, but now a night colored cloak was my garb. I stayed hidden in black, too ashamed to be seen. Blue was a faraway dream. Red, a recent nightmare. Black, a vortex of despair.
A blue waistcoat—I was slumped against the wall of a dark alley when I saw it. It hurt to look at the color. It was everything I lost, everything I threw away. I looked instead at the tattered black cloth I wore.
A hand appeared in front of me. It belonged to the man in the blue waistcoat. I took his hand and let him pull me up. Once I was on my feet, I found myself looking into a pair of familiar blue eyes. I never wanted to look away. Blue was the color of second chances.
Black and red combined are lethal, but there is another color more powerful than both together. I will never leave that color again.
Now, I wear my blue without red—or black.
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