Red

The things she owned were red. All shades, pastel to fiery and deep maroons. The front door opened on a room painted white, accented solely by these things. Entering this room gives one an altogether overwhelming sense of having lost their ability to see colors, save for red.

On the entrance table, three roses were in full bloom, each in its own glass vase and spread at equal intervals horizontally across the table. A frame hung above displayed a stunning photograph, a field of red poppies lying under an ashen grey sky. The room beyond was sparsely, though immaculately decorated. A set of white couches ringed a blood red area rug. A bookshelf along the wall was full, room for not a single book more, and each red spine organized in ascending height.

The doorway visible at the end of the flat’s hallway, in sharp contrast, was painted an inky, matte black. Each door in the hall — to the bathroom, a closet, guest bedroom, a small office — was open save for this one, and anybody who glimpsed the doorway from the den was inextricably drawn to it. For one bold enough to turn the knob on that haunting portal, what lay beyond the threshold was a breathtaking experience. The interior of the room was in turn painted the same flat black and contained no windows. The light that streamed in from the hall was seemingly devoured by the darkness, the opposite wall reflecting nothing. And when the door softly latched behind you, you too became one with the void therein.

As your eyes strained to see even your own hands, you seemed to sense, if not see, tiny pin pricks of light dancing around you. The spots of luminescence would seem voluminous rather than mere projections on the walls, and the longer you stood in the stillness, the greater chance you’d have in realizing that these particles seemed to sense you as well, for their soft glow would light and fade in time with your heartbeat and vary in size in proximity to the warmth of your skin, such that as you moved through the space you gained the sense of somehow swimming in the air. The only way to navigate this room was to first find a wall and then feel your way about with your hand, and it’s in this manner that you would first drag your fingers across a chain, hidden until now by the darkness. The links of the chain feel heavy and authoritarian, meant to restrain rather than merely providing dramatic effect. At first it seems an illusion, but when you firmly grasp the chain again, the length of it glows a soft white, and your eyes trace it up the wall to a thick ring, affixed in place by four square-headed bolts. With your eyes toward the ceiling, your gaze would be stolen by the glow of another ring. And then another, and five more spaced around the perimeter, the same weighty restraint hanging from each, the chains all in turn pulsing with that pearly white glow.

I am standing outside. I followed you in. You’ll forgive me, I was just curious. I’m standing outside, and I’ve been here before, so I know what happens next. I’m absentmindedly leafing through her mail on the kitchen table, one of the only signs of day-to-day living present in her home. I shuffle past a speaking request for a conference on nanotechnology and a letter of congratulations from M.I.T., awarding an honorary degree in nuclear science. The third piece of mail is an invitation to a bondage party, and I couldn’t help but smile at the contrast.

It was just as I dropped the stack of paper back on the table that I heard the heavy, metallic jingle of chain emanate from the hallway. I heard the locking mechanism of the black door activate with a bassy, mechanical thunk, and the outline of a single red rose faded into life on the exterior.