Creative Writing, Venue

Tulips in Red

Monday morning. White sky and waves of air and cars with steam rising out of them like winding iced gems. Against one hot red mass of colour. Tulips. Woman in dyed rug paint brush skirt. Grey cold tinny watering can. Wash of cool breeze, soaking the heat. Old grey ripped up plastic bags and water bottles. Clomp clomp. Bumpy skin, whites and light pinks and stained reds rushing in front of. Tulips. Bony white stems of bone under skin. Like silky paper. Chin tucked into knees. Watching. Whoosh, crash. Heat of the pavement like white edges of waves. Cold, slow beating of a pulse. Prickly in my throat. Watch the Tulips. Monday night. Tulips are fading into the grey, grey, grey. Clomp clomp. Leaning shadow drops and leers. Dirty, pale, long fat fingers, lily fingers, sponge fingers. Prick prick. Whoosh. Prick injects skin. Injects a winding stream of colour like icing. Cakey, pink, silky skin.

The garden was lovely.

Sitting in the attic. An attic. Legs crossed and cold. Heart heavy and bulging in my mouth. Smells of mushed pink heat and raisin trays and dust stink. Shhhh. Good morning sweetheart, hums, prickly radio, come down come down to the warm worm worked wood. Gentle steam from a hot hot red kettle. Patch worn pyjamas. Grainy dark sugar in earthenware rust pots, talking woolly, prickly notes. Dried milk and honey and butter. Sugar in the tea? Rice Krispies? Look outside! Look at your hard work you; should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Reds and Yellows and Pinks and Oranges through the glass and behind glassy eyes. Warm sugar, dried milk, wool woman. Whoosh waves of rosy warm. Talking hums, woolly prickly notes. You should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Watch the Tulips.

Pop crackle pop. Rain against the fence and the pavement. Sleep like a tiny baby, sweating talcum powder. Skin. Bulb eyes white; throb. Buzz, bees hum by. People moving. Against the grey thick sun. Disfigured rush of bodies. Blurs throbs. Smeared voices. Moving red bulged bulging eyes ahead, desperate. Splashing, clomp clomp. Dirty, silky papery. Hands. White roots poke through and under them. Pulsing of reds and blues and greens. Whooshes of colour in grey yellow, heavy heat.

Small boy with yellow and hay and small snub nose. Limp pink flowers, running. Splashed water on to boots. Stretched out little fingers. Dropping Tulips. Hot prickly Pink and Orange and Red. Wet and mangled and blackened and mushed. Under the hum of engines, leaves dark and wet and filmy. Rock back, rock forward, grasp. Pat, pat, pat. Rain against the fence and the pavement. Papery silky fingers grab around the petals.

An old woman with blue and white flowers like icing sugar. Wet, film, blue clinging to. Cellophane plasticky papery arms. Doughy summer dress. Doughy light, yellow light. Buzz, bees hum by. Baby with soft, pulpy, doughy head. Flit flit float. Cough. Long lily white fingers, burnt, rims of icing along spongy cold cakey skin. Thin papery filmy silky scrunch. Flits floats down to the pavement. Blue and white flowers like icing sugar floats by the street in the grey in the hot red Tulips glare. Pick it up. Silky skin. Pat pat pat. Rain. Watch the Tulips.

Sitting in the attic. The cupboard door is open. The room is full of moths and mushed pink heat. Good morning sweetheart, hums, come downstairs come down. Look out the window, look outside! You should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Reds and Yellows and Pinks and Oranges. Sound of something cracking. Loud and white yellow. Egg across the attic floorboards. Shhh. Look outside! Look at the Tulips! Someone out there. Grey, grey shadow over the Red, Yellow, Pink, Orange. Pop crackle pop. Spitting fat dark voice, thick, fat fingers blunt. Chipolata sausages. Mama! Mama! You should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Make sure the door is shut. Quick, head down. Close your eyes and wait till it’s over.

Soft, dark, dark, soft woody smell. Shhh.

Lie down. Spread on the concrete. Arms, hips, feet, silky. Exposed. Like the figure around a woman’s neck. Mama! Dried milk and honey and butter. Crucifix. Burnt Ashy, Woody, Bloody. Red tulip blood, prick, prick. Prick from my hands. Runs through the gutters. Shhhh. Watch it move. Head lulls and throbs. Sugar in the tea? Clomp clomp. Shadowy, spongy, long, white fat fingers. Fried on the pavement. Streams of colour like icing. The garden was lovely. 

Lying in the attic. The windows are strange and fogged up like car windows on Monday mornings. Rosy heat, dusty smelling shadows. Shadow over the Tulips. Froth. Rice Krispies? Dull whooshing waves of warm, warm. Come downstairs, look outside! Long, cold fingernails, purple and blue and soft red. Look at your hard work you should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Glassy, watery bulb eyes. Wide and white. Dirty, wet, earthy voice. Dried milk. In the dark, dark, soft woody smell. Soft like insides of Tulip petals. Shhh fingers in ears; don’t breathe; hold it in your throat. Heart beats, beats in out under my tongue. Cracked egg on the floorboards. Tiled floor with what? Dark, red stain. Close your eyes and wait till it’s over.

Sizzling attic floor. Big, fat chipolatas frying. Heavy hands and fingers. Fat sizzling on my skin. In my mouth. Come here! Bare, scraggly knees, cold and bloody. Mouth. Red cracked lips. Pinks, Yellows, Oranges. Look out the window! I’m so proud of you, you should be so proud. Dried milk, honey, butter. Dried milk walls. Cold wool woman. Mouth stuffed. Fuzzy thick grey. Shhh. Big, fat, chipolata heavy fingers. Papery, silky, filmy skin. Pop crackle pop. Bulb eyes white. Mouth Red and Orange and Pink. Pop. Stuffing, shoving. Turkey. Big, bulky fist. Big, loud, push, thrust. Red, where? Everywhere, everywhere in my mouth and ears and fingernails. Be quiet! Get over here. Where’s my mama? Be quiet, shut up, shut up. Grey, grey, grey. And Red. Last time, bitch. Burnt sausages. Hot skin. Watch the Tulips.

Prick, prick, prick. Rain, pat, pat, pat. Little yellow. Blue icing. Sharp, hot Tulips. Clomp clomp. Shrivelled pink fingers like worms and wrinkles, poke, poke. Pop, crackle, pop. Rain pokes through the pavement cracks up. Like syringes. Red, blue, yellow. Grey, grey, grey. Bony, scraggy black lined nails, yellow and grey skin. Pointed, bulby, hot, white eyeballs. Sugar in the tea? Clomp clomp. Lilies cake fingers. Burnt sponge. Red hot jam. Blue Yellow frosting. Whites of needle eyes. Sharp nails. Hot, choking like needles. The garden was lovely. 

The attic floor is sinking. Hot, choking, dark cupboards sink down, down into mush. Mushed up Rice Krispies. Grainy dark sugar and Red, Red, Red all over the floor. Stuffed, shoved, rammed into. Too long, too scraggly fingernails. Tiled floor with what? Blur of air, too warm, too Red, Red, Red. Hot Red kettle hiss. Spit of oil in the pan. Crack! Egg across the floor. Beat, beat heart in throat, in chest. Whose heart? Shove it, swallow it, Beat, beat, beat.

Hot, bad tasting, yellows and whites drum against the walls. Thick grey fog creeps out the cupboard door. Wraps itself. Sharp and fuzzy like thin white sticks of bone. Sitting. Legs crossed. Red, muddy tulips come crawling. Dig holes in the floors. Woodworms. Shrivelled pink wrinkles. Mama? Hot cold Red kettle. Ceramics smash. Smash, smash. Dark brown sugar. On the stairs. Look out the window! You should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Whoosh whoosh. From the soft black cupboard. Red, Red, Red. Red hot jam pool. Dark stains. Tiled floor. The Tulips in the garden were lovely. Tulips in the attic. Black, black, black. Loud bang, smash bang. Chunks of fingernail and Red, Red, Red. Chunking fistfuls of Oranges, Yellows, Pinks and dirt, dirt, dirt. All in mouth, ears. Muddy bulbous eyes. Chipolata fat fingers. Crack crack. Egg across the floorboards. Hot, Red, Red, Red house. Burning fiery marmalade. Spitting cherry pips, hot, hot. Chunks of fingernail and Red, Red, Red. Smokey grey, grey choking throat. Dark, black, shadow oily eyes.

Hot, treacly street. Blurred Tulips. Red, Red, Red. Eyeballs loose. Rolling along the pavement. Big fat chipolata fingers. Lean and squash squish. Into the cracks. Squash squish squelch. 

Hot, heat melts. White bulbs ooze. Peaked icing, iced gem clouds. Watch the Tulips. Winding, choking dirt black. Up their stems. Like fingernails stuffed. With ash. Red, red mushing blackening. Grey, grey air, grey, grey heat. Someone out there. Black, black ashy shadow. Pounding prickly pulse. Strangling throat. Burning, burning big fat chipolata fingers. Squash, squish, squelch. Heart in chest, pulse in throat. Pat, pat, pat.

Look at the Tulips! Look at the Tulips! Warm, woolly eyes, Pink and Orange and Yellow and glassy and dried milk and butter and honey. Rice Krispies You should be so proud I’m so proud of you. Hot, heavy chipolata fingers roasted. Hot, pink piggy cheeks, hot yellow orange pavement. Monday morning? Tulips wind and twist and poke, poke, poke.

Ouch ouch! Clomp clomp. Between ribs. Shhhh. Close your eyes and wait till it’s over. The garden was lovely.

Watch the Tulips.

(Rain is pouring, hot and dark against a hospital sign. Through the whir of engines and greys and blues, an old, red Datsun crawls into the car park. The door creaks open and a man, tall and sallow, gets out. All dark hair, dark eyes, thick fingers. The walk to the hospital entrance is lined by yellow pansies, sagging and mushing. An elderly woman slips past him, her grey fingers and blue white dress almost catching in his belt. He clenches his fat, pink fist and pushes the white ledged door. He moves forward. Past sterile, blank rooms, past the spitting stream of nurses and doctors, in and out and across. The flashes of colour from flower bunches on trolleys. Dulled under the stark white lighting. Down the stairs. The lighting dims and sputters until it fades out. The rain is still pouring, hazy and insistent against the building, in the darkness. He reaches a door, bone white, incandescent against his thick pink hand. He pries it open. Inside there is a single bed and a shuttered window. Slices of grey sky bristly worming through. A girl, thin, caught in a mass of tangled hair and pale blue-grey patched skin. Wires winding round her arms and neck and legs. Shallow, light and irregular breaths, and papery fluttering eyelids. The man moves closer. A long, lily white, thick finger brushes the girl’s mouth. His other hand reaches slowly into the pocket of his soft, ashy jeans. The girl’s eyes are open. Her breathing hitches and the whites of her eyes fatten behind dilated pupils. Her raw mouth, beneath chapped lips open, gasping. Silky, bony fingers weakly grip the bed sheets. The last sliver of light slides down the wall from the shutters. The man moves closer still. He smiles slowly and opens his lips. A wink of yellowed, pansy coloured teeth. The glint of a silver metal syringe as he moves his hand from his pocket. Closer, even still. He touches her arm. Smoothes out the filmy skin as if it is a canvas. Her bloody, gaping eyes meet his. Her mouth contorts and deforms, but no sound comes out. He positions the syringe. The rain keeps pouring. Pushes it, down, down, down. Release. The girl’s eyes roll back. Her mouth opens, makes a last guttural, choking noise. The man returns his hand to his pocket. The slow smile returns to his face. He retreats from the room, back along the stairs, past the streams of whites and blues. Through the white, ledged door, past the pansies. The elderly woman wearing a blue summer dress, decorated with white flowers, is sitting on a bench, under the lamp post. The man, still smiling, nods at her, flashes his pansy yellow teeth. The rain keeps on pouring.)


About Author


Eleanor Burleigh

February 2021
Latest Comments
About Us

The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.