The Red Thing

She gave it to me on a winter’s day. A red, ruby glowing bundle of softness. It wasn’t recognisable as anything in particular. An organ, of sorts, with an ember inside. The spark shivered, pulsating erratically, and I thought it looked a bit uncertain. But still she gave it to me, and I was glad to receive it.

I took it home with me and I fed it on stories. Some of them were bright things, some of them bitter. Most were hopeful. I told it of fingers, hair and skin; I told it of collarbones, of hips, of ankles. I told it of summer days, autumn days, cold winds and snow, giant falling leaves of gold and so much sun, it hurt to open the eyes.

I fed it on my dreams, and slowly the Thing grew limbs, limbs to support its thin, membranous weight. It lacked any other identifiable features- although, I thought the yellow glow deep in its red body served like a face. The pulse was stronger now, and I thought it might have come to trust me.

After that, the Red Thing came everywhere with me.

I’d given her my floppy red thing in the summer. At first she hadn’t realised she had it. It followed her around on shivering bird-legs. It begged too much, I thought critically. But, I suppose it was hungry. When I saw her, I saw it, and it would look at me with its mournful red embers, dying, and I’d have to pretend I couldn’t see. It was sickly, for a long time.

She’d noticed it in the autumn. I think she’d begun to feed it, then. It played now, curling around her feet with enthusiasm. It was like a cat now, I thought, or some such creature. It liked her, liked the scent of her and the touch of her. It wanted her to love it. I think she’d begun to warm to it, after a while.

When she handed over her thing, my thing was there. It was warmer than a furnace, that day. It was a strong, fire red. It looked very pleased with itself.

When I went to see her on the weekend, the Red Thing came too. It was a tad shy with the Cat Thing, but after a pause they got along. I think they played a game- although, not hide-and-seek (they’d played that too often already).

We drank tea, and I held her hand. I think she could see that her Red Thing was being looked after. I think she was pleased.

* * *

By Danielle K. Day


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