Horror Coming of Age Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

Warning: This story contains moments of self-harm, violence and gore. There is a lot of references to blood in this story.

The color of blood is the truest red there is. It never disappoints. Even when it dries, you can still see the deep strength of the red. It is so beautiful how it flows, thick and elegant. How could anyone not enjoy the sight of blood?

When I was eight, my eyes opened to how beautiful blood could flow. Jacob Henry, who was in my class, cornered me on the playground. He delighted in telling me how ugly and weird I was, which was fine. Tell me and move on but he kept me there, forcing me to listen to him compare me to a hippo and an owl and a witch. The witch didn't really bother me, I quite liked witches, still do.

It took me forever to realize what he was waiting for. He wanted me to react, so I did. My fist flew and the blood from his nose and mouth splattered on the wall beside him. This flower of vengeance appeared on the bright white plaster and Jacob disappeared from the playground and my thoughts.

The bell had rung and I was still standing there, staring at the glory of it. I must have appeared remorseful because when the teacher came out to scold me, she just stood for a beat and put her arm around me and stated, "Well, now you know. There are better ways to stand up to bullies."

I didn't know what she was talking about. I found the best way to stand up to bullies. I believed that blood flowing was the answer to all cruel actions.

When I was twelve, I learned about bloodletting and wondered, why did society stop such an amazing ritual? I understood that it was used to cure fevers and mental illness, so what about curing an inability to fit in?

Later that year, my friend Taylor got mad at me for being weird and alienating the other girls in our class. She wanted more than one friend. She eventually got more girlfriends and became close friends with Jacob Henry. 

I actually would have liked more friends too, but it wasn't easy for me to make them. I tried the bloodletting. Maybe I could rid myself of some of my weirdness. I made a small cut on my leg and watched the thick red liquid flow from my body, hoping to become more normal. As I noticed how beautiful it was, how lovely it moved, I knew that I was always going to be like this. There was no cure.

I never tried bloodletting again.

Now, at sixteen, I stretched out a bit according to my mom which made me taller with curves, hiding some of my chubbiness. Embracing a witchy feel in my wardrobe, I felt more myself, but still had this dark love of blood. I adopted my black cat, Crimson. She is perfect company. I was certain from the moment I found her; her blood looks best inside her body.

Lately, I have been wondering if maybe I should drift away from the wonders of blood.

Elias, a boy who used to hang out with Jacob and Taylor, was assigned to the seat next to me in art class. His paintings had a wispy, ghostly feel to the most realistic landscapes. Sometimes, his landscapes had a haunting look with fog rolling in and crows in the distance. He definitely belonged here. It was not just for the school credits.

I was painting with different shades of red, trying to get a sketch-like feel of the roses I was painting but all in red.

He scanned my work and immediately related the dew drops on the petals to blood and I felt my insides lurch. But when he was intrigued instead of bolting, I wanted to know so much more about him.

The more time I spent with him though, I thought I might need to let my fascination with blood go in order to keep him.

He invited me to Sunset Cliffs for a picnic where we would relax and sketch and I was excited to have an afternoon being in the company of someone who was happy just existing in creative quiet together. A moment where I could be myself.

We spent an hour doing just that and it was as perfect as I had imagined, until we heard footsteps stomping up the hill and two people talking so loudly that it tainted the cliffs with its crassness.

“There they are,” Taylor declared to Jacob, “I knew we’d find you in the cheesiest spot.”

“You told them you were taking me here?” I asked Elias. I thought this was a special day where this spot would have meaning for us and he advertised it to the worst people I had known.

“It wasn’t like that,” Elias said. “I told you guys that I’m done. I can’t be around…this anymore,” he gestured to them. 

“MmmHmm,” Taylor scoffed, “That’s why you mentioned where you were going, right? Because you’d rather be around The Mistress of Darkness instead of normal people.”

“You told them,” I said to myself not believing that I fell for such bullshit.

“Please,” Elias said to me, “They’re twisting it up. I hate how they talk to people. I want to be around someone kind and…”

“Weird?” I asked as I stared him down. He didn’t deny it. That’s all I’ll ever be and rage filled my body. I felt like the world should be covered in red.

I spat out, “I would have been fine being left alone. Why do people enjoy being so cruel?” Then I ran.

I needed to get away. as far away from such disgusting deceit.

I heard Elias call out, “Please, let me...”

I thought they would leave me alone, but Taylor caught up to me by the rocks. She was nothing like I remembered. The girl who used to be my friend was snarling at me and seemed to delight in cornering me. I tried to find a safe spot to get away, but my feet kept on slipping on the boulders.

“So pathetic,” Taylor taunted, “You’ll never belong anywhere, not at school, not with Elias. You should just disappear.”

I couldn’t find an out. I had climbed too high, and I couldn’t steady my footing to climb down the other side. My blood was going to be spilled on these rocks.  

Taylor came at me and my last attempt to get away caused my feet to slip forward, causing me to drop on my ass. I felt her grab me and I closed my eyes and pushed up, and then nothing. The punch or scratch or push I was expecting never came.

I opened my eyes and Taylor was gone.

I shifted my gaze down the side of the boulder, and she was at the bottom, part Taylor, part splatter.

My muscles were frozen, still waiting for the pounding that wasn’t coming. I placed my feet slowly down the rock until I was next to her. Then I could take in everything. The splatter on the nearby rocks, the flow of her blood as it filled the crevices in the ground, veining around her. And the sunlight as it glistened off of the red liquid. How did I not know it could get even more beautiful when you combine it with nature itself?

“You bitch!” I heard Jacob scream as he approached. “What did you do?”

“Stop!” Elias answered, “She did nothing. She ran and protected herself. You should have stayed away. I told you I was done hanging out with you. Now, call for help.”

I could hear them, but I didn’t look at them. I had to memorize her. I had to memorize all of it.

Elias put his hand on my shoulder, “There’s no helping her. I think she’s gone.”

I agreed, “I think you’re right,” but I couldn’t turn away. I had to memorize her. 

Did he see it on my face? He was going to know. He was going to figure me out but I couldn’t turn away.

Elias came closer and whispered in my ear, “Some of the things we see, it's a fine line between horror and wonder."

Did he understand? My attention snapped to his eyes, and I saw…kindness. 

I whispered, "I think your blood looks best inside you."

"I feel the same."

Maybe…maybe I can hold onto my darkness…at least for a bit longer.

September 13, 2023 17:26

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Patricia Casey
01:43 Sep 18, 2023

Bernadette, I love that your protagonist found someone who could relate to her weirdness. I like how Elias thought she was kind, even though she was obsessed with darkness. That's the beauty of excellent writing: you portrayed the good and bad in your protagonist. Your antagonist was once nice, but her desire for friends overrode her good side. Well done! Patricia


02:09 Sep 18, 2023

Thank you, I'm thrilled that it spoke to you.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply