Salt White, Rose Red
Words By E Celeste, Art By Hailey Renee
So, I did.
I hadn’t come across green in so long.
The sea stretches for miles in every direction. Choppy grey, swelling to overwhelm the deep black rocks the lighthouse is built on. Everything is either black, white or grey. The mainland isn’t visible and I—
I ached for green. It was the skipped beat in my heart, the lie caught in my teeth. I tossed and rolled awake at night, window open to the sea air, everything muted in its spray. Sprawled on her back and still smelling of kerosene from the lamp, she slept beside me, steady and oblivious.
The supply boat was late, and she went to the mainland to meet it. The revving of her boat over waves followed me as I hurried down the path.
It sat, waiting for me, panes frosted with salt.
Don’t, she’d said.
I opened the glass door and slipped inside.
The walls swam with moisture and heat.
It was so green, it hurt. Leaves and vines and flowers spilled from pots. Everything burned with life.
I leaned on the door and cried. Heavy, thick, gulping.
My eyes adjusted gradually. By the time I eased myself off the door, sweat was dripping down the back of my neck.
It was deeper than I’d thought. The paths tangled, snarling with vines.
But the roses. Oh, the roses.
They bordered the greenhouse, a guard of honour soaking up the wet. White, pure white—a different kind of burn from the green.
This wasn’t the white of salt or the white of the lighthouse tower. This was a new white. A white that breathed of snow and new beginnings and clean slates. All the things she’d promised.
I reached out and stroked a petal. Velvet, her cheek under my hand when I first kissed her.
I let out a breath.
They were living. Out here, on this rock, separated from salt by lightning and sand. Proof that something could root here. Survive. Thrive.
A high-pitched whine she’s back and I flinched—
Ow. The thorn dug in. Blood welled, a red tear. I sucked it away.
I met her at the dock, thumb tucked behind my back. If she noticed my sweat-soaked hair and flushed cheeks, she didn’t say anything.
Now I dream of red. Red running down glass. Of satiation. Of breathing for the first time in a century.
I break awake into heat and swimming walls. The sheets have twisted around my waist and the bedsheets on my side are drenched. My thighs throb.
When I lift my nightgown, I see dozens of tiny punctures. And when I next visit the roses, they are a deep, deep red.