Aaliyah El-Salahi

School: James Gillespie’s High School, Edinburgh




A funny sort of colour.

Connotations of pain, suffering, torment, but on the other hand full of love and compassion. So many shades, variations of the same colour.

Scarlet. Rouge. Maroon.

My personal favourite, Crimson.

But now, as I watch it slowly run down the stark white of the canvas,

Bleeding into the delicately laced strands of linen, I am beginning to rethink my obsession with this colour.



A deep, never ending black envelops me like a thick cloak. Wrapping me in its tendrils, choking me, dragging me down.

Eyes everywhere. Burning into my heart stronger than the most powerful acid, piercing through me like a poison-tipped arrow, spreading scorching venom through my paralysed body. I am drowning in a sea of cruel stares. I… I can’t, I can’t handle it. I… 



I wake in a cold sweat. A dream. With shaking hands, I wipe the perspiration off my brow, taking deep breaths, seeking to calm the rapid beating of my heart. The alarm to my left displays three clear numbers, 6:07, two hours till classes. Sighing, I make my way down the cold hallway of my lonely little apartment, glancing at the array of paintings that litter my walls, attempting to brighten up the place. An unused paintbrush and blank easel lie in the corner of the too-spacious living room. Already I can feel the tips of my thin lips curl into a soft smile as I touch the bristles of the instrument to the canvas, allowing it to drag me into a world of its own, void of everything but my thoughts. The therapeutic rhythm of brush against linen, the colours of paints, blending and intertwining into a rainbow of emotions. It draws me into a trance, pouring my feelings out onto the square in front of me. In fact, I become so entranced that time escapes me completely until a glimpse of the clock catches my eye. Muttering incoherent curses, I shrug on my coat, stuff my various art equipment into an old, tattered bag and reluctantly dash out of the safety of my home. I swear art will be the death of me someday.



The colour of boredom, of emptiness.

Of a clear canvas waiting to be filled with a story of colours, lines and shapes. The hollow feeling in my chest as my teacher points out to me once again that if I cannot convey feeling through my paintings I will never become successful in life. But sir, I have plenty of emptions balled up inside of me, waiting to be released, you only have to make an effort to look. It’s not difficult to notice something so painstakingly in view that you must be completely blind not to see. White. The colour my skin is turning as you continue to tell me that I may as well give up. No skill. No talent. No success. No friends. No nothing. That’s just what I am, nothing, you tell me. White, the white searing pain of your words that leave deep scars in my heart as I realise you are true. They’re all true. Everything anyone has ever said to me. My worthlessness. My incapability to just follow instructions. It’s all true, each and every word. 



A colour you could drown in.

The colour of tears.

Thick, salty tears that won’t seem to stop streaming out of my now red puffy eyes, stinging my pale skin as I slam the door shut.

Collapsing to the hard floor, sobs rock my lean frame, forcing me to struggle for the smallest breath of air. A loud wail like a strangled cat escapes my mouth and I am sickened by the noise.

So sick of everything. Eyes squeezed tightly shut, fingers claw my hair which usually would bring me pain, but I’m only focused on blocking it all out. 



What my hands seem to have become, if you would call them hands any more, more like skin stretched over fragile bones. Funny that I only notice this now as I watch them claw the carpet, heaving my body along to the corner of the room.



The flash of silver steel. Then, pain but then, contentment.


Red, Everywhere

It starts off with a few narrow lines, then deep gouges, until angry crimson slashes cover the canvas as if a monster is trying to tear itself free from the cloth. With every frantic stroke of the brush my eyelids grow heavier… and…heavier…and…I’m…suddenly so…tired, so… tired… and then…….



Isn’t it funny how the best painting you ever made, the most colourful, the one that brings out the most emotions, is the same painting that ends your life?



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