Meditations on Red

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Words: Rothery Sullivan (She/Her)

When I was ten, I wanted to paint my room red; top to bottom, covered in the color of fresh blood. ‘Absolutely not,’ my mother said, ‘red is angry. It will make you angry, too.’ My room is still brown. 

A red paper love heart covered in glitter and gold. I found it lying on the floor, a muddy February footprint covering my confessions. An unreciprocated valentine.

Heat from my stomach crept up to the puffiness in my cheeks; blood bubbled under the skin on my face, arms, chest – crimson taking over. My emotions announced by the splotches of color that creep across my body; what clothing can hide what’s inside?

Red and orange leaves covered the wilting grass. We raked them into piles, eagerness battling our patience as the piles grew taller than us. A sprint; a leap; a scream; a mouthful of leaves and sticks. The cold pinched our noses in anticipation of hot chocolate.

A scraped knee, blood seeping through my brand new white tights. ‘You can’t get out a blood stain.’ The saltiness of my tears dripped into my mouth as I cried; the promise of a cherry lollipop ceasing my tears.

A maroon hoodie, worn from years of use. It had begun to grow tighter around my chest, puberty begging for new clothes. Hoping I would shrink, I held onto it just in case. 

A chilly Friday night, white and red jerseys bouncing against the green football field. The rest of us – spectators – wrapped in blankets, gripping paper cups of hot chocolate until our hands turned pink. Careless nights where everything seemed to matter and nothing really did.

The walls of my childhood room are still brown, but to me all I see is red.


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