“Keep your stitches neat and your head down. Focus only on your work.”
“Yes Miss.” Evelyn chorused with the rest of the room, keeping her eyes on her embroidery.
The stitched face of a woman looked back at her while she continued to sew. She was an elegant lady, pale-skinned and red-haired in a dark blue gown, a powder-blue parasol clutched in her hands. It was nearly finished, the result of hours of patient work. In her opinion it was just as good, if not better, as those of the other students. All that was left were the red flowers on the dress and…
Evelyn stared at her table.
Flosses lay there, pitiful shreds of thread that remained from her previous stitching. There was not so much as a scrap of red thread. She thought she had planned enough for the hair and the dress; clearly, she had misjudged how much she would need. The lady was complete, but without that detail she looked flat and dull.
She had to be beautiful.
Without daring to look up, she asked “Um, Miss? Miss, I need some red thread to fin-”
“A good seamstress plans her work around the materials at hand. You should have everything you need.”
“Yes, I know, and I promise that next time I’ll do better, but if I could just nip out an-”
“You will not leave until the piece is finished.”
Evelyn’s protests died in her throat, listening to the fading clip clop of her teacher’s boots.
She wasn’t allowed to leave until it was done, but there was no way to finish without more red thread. Her eyes briefly flicked towards the student on her left, glancing at their table. Their thread was all but gone, and there was no red to be seen. A look to the right showed the same. And she could hear people scraping their chairs, preparing to leave.
How could she get the red thread?
Her eyes fell on her sewing scissors.
She set the embroidery on her lap, puncturing an empty space of cloth with the threadless needle before reaching out to the scissors. The grips slid comfortably around her fingers. Cold metal touched skin. There was no weight to the object, yet it shuddered in her hands. Then, tracing the tip of the blade on the inside of her wrist in a square motion, she settled on one patch of skin.
The scissors opened.
Nobody noticed the moist squelch of metal cutting through skin. Or if they did, they didn’t say anything.
Evelyn gritted her teeth as she continued to carefully cut a square of skin, leaving one side intact so she could pull it open and closed easily. Once the viscera was exposed, pulsing in its newfound freedom, she used the scissors to carefully snip a single vein.
Red began to blossom.
Evelyn quickly put the scissors down and picked up the needle, threading the weeping vein through its eye before piercing the cloth again.
Stitch by stitch by stitch.
It was the perfect shade of red, allowing her to carefully add tiny detailed flowers to the woman’s blue dress. Occasionally she tugged at the vein to pull more out. The sensation made her arm feel tight, tension causing her hand to shake, yet still she continued.
Cross-stitch here. Featherstitch there.
The red was beginning to spread beyond the flowers. It zig-zagged in a spiderweb through the rest of the colours, and as Evelyn made more and more stitches it started adding details of its own. Lines of red went from the woman’s dress to her arms, piercing through her pale skin as if she was being sewn to the fabric. The smile grew wide and jagged, while tiny stitches of blood spiralled from the corners of each eye.
Her vision began to blur.
Her stomach curled.
And her arm throbbed dully as the vein struggled to stay in place.
Evelyn gritted her teeth, focusing on the final few flowers. She disregarded the new extensions to the limbs, and the pointed protrusions on the torso and neck. She didn’t even take notice of the spindly, finger-like objects now clutching the parasol.
The final stitch.
Again, she picked up the scissors, severing the connection between the vein and the needle before tightly knotting what was left at the back of the fabric.
“M-Miss… I’ve… I’ve finished…”
Evelyn held the distorted embroidery out to her teacher, keeping her gaze low as her teacher clip-clopped over. When the fabric left her hand, it took her strength with it, causing her to slump forward and crumple to a heap. The floor was painted by the still weeping vein.
“Well done Evelyn, I knew you could make something beautiful. It looks like you poured your heart into this.”
No idea where this came from but I’m not one to turn my nose up at productivity. It’s much shorter than my usual pieces and honestly kind of weird (I wrote this in a bit of a haze) but I think it’s an interesting little horror concept.
Also between this and my other short story Breathless Purple I seem to be on a colour kick with horror, maybe I should do a full rainbow horror anthology.