As she exhaled into the cold, crisp air her breath formed swirls of fog before her face. Each time, her vision was momentarily impaired while she stared at the red light across the street. Red. An intense colour of many means. The colour of blood and fire. Of danger, war, strength, determination, but also of passion, love and desire. A very complex colour that can leave you hot and heavy, yearning for more and just as quickly leave you screaming desperately for your life. The colour smoothed out on the lips of a elegant business woman, showing off her $2.500 Saint Laurent suit, and a cheap hooker in a dark alley leaving stains of it on that nights first customer.
Mel kept staring at the red light. In this case it was a sign of danger, of taboo. Do not cross the street, she thought as cars zoomed by in front of her. She imagined what would happen if she did decide to cross the street, no matter what colour shown across from her. Would she die? Get severely injured? Would the car swerve and miss her but injure the people inside the vehicle? Or other people on the sidewalk? She was intrigued with what her body might look like sprawled upon the asphalt like that of a rag-doll. Broken bones brought to the light, emerged from her flesh in the most gruesome of ways. Red blood seeping from under her, a pool forming, extending around her as she’s emptied onto the street. Her eyes open, lifelessly glazed over. A single drop of blood, the colour a deep burgundy, emerging from her left nostril. She imagined her face. Beautifully peaceful. A shell that once housed her very essence.
It’s the stuff of horror and action movies. They left her thinking graphic thoughts. As years pass, society becomes more and more desensitised due to what is shown on TV. Movie directors push limits to seem edgier than the last. To seem more realistic. They one up each other with brutality. They want their art portrayed in a pragmatic way. Exactly as it would happen in real life. Only, there is one problem. People are starting to get far too used to the gore of reality. They know what the inside of someone stomach looks like and refrain from twitching, thanks to movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
There once was a time when Hitchcock was deemed one of the scariest writers in history. Birds viciously attacking passers-by. A psycho hotel Manager with a knife. A Peeping Tom at the window with his binoculars. These were tales that shook cinema goers to their very core. Now dated, they are seen as comedies because the violence isn’t exposed to the viewer. They are considered ‘lame’ and ‘old school’ because the director decided to pan the camera just in time, leaving the suspense and imagination to run wild. Now however, society wants the gore. They want the truth.
Mel snapped out of her daydream, blinking away the red as she now detected a fog of green. She crossed the street, continuing her journey toward the subway. The streets were buzzing with early risers on their commute to work. The streets stunk of lasts nights bar hoppers and this mornings coffee runners. People unapologetically pushed passed one another, their faces appearing harsh and determined. Mel loved her commute, never mind not being much of a morning person. She enjoyed watching the people. Watching their journey. She made up little stories in her head. Story’s about their lives.
A man with a dark blue cast scurried past her. It was strategically wrapped around his forearm. Tilting her head she again zoned out and imagined all the deliciously terrifying ways he could have broken it. A fall perhaps, she thought. His arm being the only thing shielding his face from the ground. His entire bodyweight crushing it on impact. Or a drug deal gone wrong, she gasped. How exciting would that be! A junkie unable to pay his debt. Kidnapped and tied to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. Blindfolded and gagged until the big boss arrives with his trusty aluminum baseball bat. Mel chuckled within herself. Clearly she watched far too much TV. Plus, all those video games when she was younger… She was stealing cars and whooping ass in Grand Theft Auto long before she could remember. That adrenaline rush, the smile and feel of accomplishment when a heist Level was completed. That’s the real horror story, isn’t it?
Melanie had never really developed empathetic characteristics. The violence portrayed on the screen she so frequently watched growing up desensitised her to real human pain and suffering, making it difficult for her to distinguish what is reality and what is entertainment, sickly romanticising the villain. The early years of childhood are the most critical, fail to teach a kid to empathise with the world around him/her and you might just be raising a serial killer.
She skittered down the subway stairs and sprinted, just about catching the train that would get her to work on time. Scanning the carriage she chose a seat on the far left against the wall. It was a 20 minute train excursion and she sat tight, placing her hands in her lap, when she looked down and noticed a mark on her thumb. She raised her hand, examining it curiously. An old paper cut. The laceration hadn’t yet properly healed. She used the forefinger of her other hand and pushed the nail into the tiny gash, hard. Without flinching she watched as her blood drew to the surface. Red. Her favourite colour.
(sidenote: I know I usually write stories pertaining to myself and my experiences. This time the character is not me. I very much over empathise with pretty much everything and despise violence above all else. I just believe this is a topic not much debated anymore and it’s only getting worse. Child development is so important. Our world is developing so fast with all that we share, retweet, text, etc. We must protect them as long as we can. Innocents is a virtue.)
-written by Actress In Reality