Flashes of Red
Disclaimer: I, obviously, do not own James Bond or Casino Royale.
Author's Notes: Inspired by the fact that my friend and I both said "red" at the same time in the theatre towards the end of the movie, and the rest of the facts lined up. Spoilers if you haven't watched the movie, obviously. I really enjoyed Daniel Craig as Bond; personally, I think he makes Pierce Brosnan look like a pansy. And Eva Green was a lovely Bond girl. Ah, now I'm ranting. Basically I tried to answer some of my own questions on the movie.
It was the last time he would have this drink, which was a shame considering the liking he had taken towards it. The lemon rind floated in unassuming swirls in the clear liquid as he twirled the glass between his fingers. It was a mistake to name if after her; all of it was a mistake, really. But he had learned too many lessons to be hindered anymore and all these thoughts, thoughts, were nothing but things best forgotten.
The sound of the rain lashing heavily against the window reminds him of the spray of salt water on the pebbly shore as the word love enters his vocabulary for the first time. When later the heavy outburst softens to a fainter pouring, what he hears is the sound of a yacht breaking the surface of criss-crossed waters. The sunshine was their contentedness. Now in the rumble of lightning he tries to hear only her voice, just her voice, tinted with her smile.
What he sees instead is only a colour, but he remembers perfectly how she came to life.
Winding through the country terrain in a comfortable seat in intriguing company with a bottle of fine wine to buffer the conversation between them. The liquid was a deep red, a black red, the colour of un-awakened or suppressed desire, he can't decide. As with wine he lets the talk settle, lets it touch air so that its flavour is renewed. She is an enigma, and he is ambiguous. That had been the first time, when their words to each other had been nothing more than feelers, words to probe and construct a personality with which to later identify. She leaves before he is finished and that amuses him somehow.
The second time had been in the car as he read their file, her scarlet lips curving into a bemused smile as he told her they were madly in love. She doesn't believe him, naturally, doesn't believe the coy side of him would let a chance like this slip by. He doesn't know she's already constructed him in her mind. Her pale skin is at the mercy of the movement of her lips, born with a splash of vibrant colour, lively unlike the aged sweetness of the wine. His vivid imagination isn't naïve enough to think she has no secrets, but if they are nearby he can't see them. The finality in her tone is about as subtle as the elevator door closing between them. When she plugs a red wire into the defibrillator and presses a red button to bring him back to life, the subtlety of the fact passes by both of them.
Back then he doesn't see it happen. He only opens his eyes to find it there.
He finds it there in a green dress and green eyes and a gentle smile. The wine and the colour of her lips, the broken glass and cold shower and angry refusal to let him buy back in, these are discarded as unsalvageable mistakes. If she was anything to him now she was dazzling, blinding, and so flawed she was perfect.
'Don't worry. You're not my type.'
Perhaps their choices were too profound for them to be together. He doesn't ask about the source of her screams, screams that are resonant enough to pierce metal doors. Whatever caused them has left no mark and he is grateful instead of wary, happy instead of cautious and stupid in saying 'Lesson learned' as if he had remembered the consequences. This shroud prevents him from seeing her don what would become her parting dress, prevents him from seeing the lingering of her gaze as she kissed him goodbye and pretended that in half an hour their lives would go on. How she holds herself together as she walks out of his life under her peaceful façade is one of the many things he will never know.
And it was red in every scene, beginning, middle, end like the way they taught it to you in grade school and he was foolish not to see it.
'I'm sorry, James.'
The key still clutched in her limp hand is more than he can take, more than he could ever take, and he rips it out of her fingers to fling into the water like the wrenching of a fang out of his heart, watching the metal sink, watching the poison ooze out. Whatever is left of him, whatever little there was left has drowned beneath the waves.
She has taken it all with her. He has hidden her cell phone to turn in as evidence and cleared the room of whatever may trigger his over-exhausted mind. He erases her presence by sheer force of will, a habit that becomes increasingly useful in the following years. What she has done with her necklace he does not know, but he is comforted by its non-existence. The thing that pains him most is that she is likely with the man he took her from, together and whole and existing only for each other. He has never been jealous before. He never thought he would be jealous, least of all jealous of a dead man. Jealous of death. He does not think he could have forgiven her had she lived.
He downs the rest of the drink and feels it burn down his throat like the constricting darkness. James glances at the bed where shadows play over the woman's body, her dark hair splayed over the blanket. Her skin is not quite so pale and he knows that under the shut lids the eyes will be a dark chocolate brown instead of carefree summer green. He looks at her lipstick stains on the pillowcase with contempt, derisive at any trace of presence in this frail apocalypse.
Lightning flashes; and he thinks he sees a flicker of her smile in the corner of his eye but turns only to find the shining metal of a silver briefcase, the reminder of what his life had been worth. The cocktail glass shatters on the logs in the hearth, sending the embers skyward. There is a spiral of light that flares and evaporates, the trail of all she has left behind. He laughs, for what he sees is simply a colour and nothing more.
Wine, a smile, a wire, and a dress. He sees her now only in flashes of red.