CHAPTER 1.0 - ”Red”
The first time I met her, she was red. Real red. Fire hydrant lips, rouge nails, a dress that clung like drying blood to the curvature of her body. I wasn’t sure what I noticed first: her fingers methodically tapping hidden rhythms on the side of her glass -clink clink clink clink clink- or the abundant aura of red, but regardless, I shouldn’t have spoken to her. She was, and is, my sweetest downfall. But that’s not the point, is it? Because I did, I spoke to her, my greeting hovering in the dusky thrum of the bar that sat between the crossroads of everywhere and nowhere, because this was where my life changed. One word:
She swiveled in her seat, and I’m pretty damn sure that a rift happened somewhere in the universe during that moment, because I could feel a pickaxe tearing through my flesh and bones and, by god, my heart, as she turned to look at me. Then she smiled.
That was how I met Lolita, my first love.
I’m sitting at the same bar again, half a decade later. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, so I guess the opposite is true too—that time slows down when you’re feeling miserable. Although, ‘miserable’ is a bit of a harsh word; ‘numb’ would be a more accurate descriptor. I’m numb, numb, numb, and I can’t feel a fucking thing. It’s been five years, but if I close my eyes, I can still feel Lolita’s cold limbs curled on top of me, her body quivering and bucking under the weight of a two-ton vehicle. I can hear her whispering in my ear, over and over: “You’re safe, baby, you’re safe.”
But I’m not safe. I’m really not. I’m just numb. And yet, in the foggy recesses of my mind, I can still manage to distinguish the tell-tale sign that I am being addressed by a stranger—someone is tapping my shoulder, someone is slipping onto the seat next to me. Lolita’s seat. I don’t look up, not until the stranger speaks:
My head snaps to attention, and the gut feeling in my stomach gurgles through my throat and out my mouth in the form of a hurried inquiry, “Lolita!?” It’s not Lolita, of course it’s not. But it could be. She has the same eyes, doe-like and ochre. Same white-blonde hair, the kind of faded color that’s reminiscent of bone marrow. Same red-painted lips, although Lolita was always smiling. This woman is frowning.
“What? No. Who the hell is Lolita?” She doesn’t wait for an answer, and her slender fingers reach out to grasp my hand. “I’m Wednesday.” I limply shake her hand but I don’t bother to tell her my name—she must sense my unenthusiasm, because she promptly lets go and occupies her freed hand by tugging on the pinkened ends of her clipped hair. For a while, neither of us speaks, and she drums her fingers on the counter while I sit there and marvel at her physical similarity to Lolita. It’s fucking bonkers, they could almost be twins. Awkward silence. “Well,” Wednesday finally says -her voice is throaty sounding, like jazz and too many cigarettes- as she sits up straight, “This has been lovely, but I’ve got things to do. Au revoir, mystery boy.” And then she’s leaning towards me and I can feel the soft puffs of her breath skitter across my face, one, two, three, and she’s kissing me, Lolita is kissing me, and her thumbs hook themselves on my back pockets. Instinctively, I deepen the kiss, but then she’s pulling away, and the last thing I see are her red lips bared into a shit-eating grin as she walks away, those nimble fingers tucking away a small object between the folds of her dress.
It’s not until later that I realize my wallet is missing from my back pocket.