Title: Red On Green
Warnings: SELF-HARM. Cutting, self –mutilation, SI, whatever you want to call it. If this triggers you, please don't read it. This is my catharsis, and I don't want anyone hurt by it.
Disclaimer: Oh, yeah, I DEFINITELY own Wicked.
Summary: Elphaba has always loved the pretty patterns of red on her ugly green skin. Strictly musicalverse. Rated M for graphic depictions of self-harm, and some mild sexuality and language. Elphaba/Fiyero.
Notes: I saw the musical (OHMYGOODNESS) very recently, and have fallen back into my own hole of depression recently as well. Thus this one-shot was born. Please, read no further if you think it'll affect you adversely.
She first makes the pretty red flow when she's seven. She's washing dishes and keeping an eye on Nessa when a sharp steak knife slips and suddenly there is red everywhere. Elphaba gasps (more surprise than pain) as the red is flowing over her green skin and it's pretty. Red and green. Nothing about her is beautiful (she is scary, a monster, ugly ugly ugly), but the red and green intertwine in a way that makes her head spin as she passes out.
Nessa screams (Elphaba hears it, vaguely) and people come running to help the green girl. She awakes a day later with black stitches holding together the heel of her right hand. She never cries, even when it hurts. This doesn't help the rumors about her, about the strange girl with the green skin. It takes months for her hand to heal, and the scarring is permanent. The redness of her own blood still fascinates her, but she moves the obsession to the back of her mind (after Nessa says liking blood is sick and wrong). Elphaba's father continues to hate her (it's your fault, all your fault, you're a disgrace) and she does everything for Nessa (she is loved with Elphaba's pain and pity and guilt, it's her fault).
Elphaba is ten when she tries again. No such dramatics, she has long since learned that life was best when she kept to the shadows. Elphaba steals a silver knife from the kitchen (is it the one that once opened her little green hand?) and sets to work in the dead of night. She understands bleeding. She's heard women mumbling- it's a woman's lot to bleed, apparently, and Elphaba wants to be grown up as quickly as possible. Opening her green skin must be the best way to grow up. So the knife is lowered to her shin and drawn carefully up to her knee. The pain is there, but the blood is there faster, and for the better part of half an hour Elphaba uses her fingers and the blood to paint words across her body. None of the words are nice. She doesn't quite know what whore means, but it looks good in red on green. Once she is done, she takes the pail of water and the cloth she brought with her and cleans herself, leaving fresh green skin. Another cloth is held across the gash on her lower leg, staunching the bleeding. And then she is done. She keeps the knife.
This midnight session becomes a regular occurrence over the next eight years. No one ever notices, not even Nessa. Her body becomes striped with cuts, like a macabre red-on-green candy cane. No one cares what Elphaba does to herself. She is worthless and monstrous, of course. It is never a question in her mind. Her sole purpose is to care for Nessa. The words go from gory fingerpaint to being etched in red on her greenness (her stomach reads MONSTER in large capitals, from the first day of high school when terror and hilarity greeted her in a wall of unwelcome noise).
Then her father announces Shiz, Shiz University, where the two girls will go (Elphaba will take care of Nessa, of course). Elphaba is hopeful- she loves to learn. Elphaba puts her knife and a clean rag in her luggage as they board the carriage.
Shiz is awful. She hates her roommate, hates Madam Morrible, hates the stares and laughs of the other students. She loves the learning, especially Doctor Dillamond, and she wants to see the Wizard more than anything else she's ever wanted (the Wizard can degreenify her, remove the need for the knife, repair her into wholeness). The red-on-green becomes her solace and penitence (as that little bitch Galinda snores, Elphaba carves a little line each night for every gasp, every guffaw at her greenness). If her roommate Galinda ever notices, she hides it well. And then Elphaba is almost run over by some airheaded prettyboy (he is a pretty boy, though) and Galinda gets Boq and Nessa together and then the hat (a gift, a gift for her, she gets a gift) and suddenly she can't hate Galinda as much as she used to. Elphaba is unused to feeling gratitude, so she repays Galinda in the only way she knows how- she makes Madam Morrible let her into sorcery seminars.
And then there is the dance. She picks out a dress (her only dress, really). It does not cover her arms, but Elphaba doesn't care. The scars there are mostly healed and only on the inside of her arms. She wears the hat without a second thought (maybe black-is-the-new-pink like red-is-better-than-green).
And then there is the laughter at the dance, and Elphaba is annoyed at all the little red lines she'll have to add. She dances, awkwardly, raising her arms and twisting them (daring them to look closer and see her lovely red lines on green skin). Galinda joins her- really joins her in dancing, and maybe Elphaba has a friend. What really mattered was that Nessa had a good time with Boq, not anything that happened to Elphaba.
Galinda is drunk as hell when she announces loudly that she's going to marry Fiyero the prettyboy. She pressures Elphaba into spilling her own secret, but there's no way Elphaba's going to tell anyone about the red-on-green. So instead she tells Galinda some version of her reason for taking the knife to green skin (Her father hates her, her mother is dead, Nessa is crippled, Elphaba is to blame). Drunkenly, Galinda assures her it's not her fault and proceeds to try to make Elphaba prettier somehow (Galinda could save the trouble, Elphaba could show her where ugly and friendless were carved into her skin) by taking her hair out of her severe braid, giving her some lipstick and pinning her hair back with a flower (Elphaba must admit she likes it, a little, even as she runs from her reflection). For some reason, she doesn't add the cuts she knows are due that night.
Doctor Dillamond is taken away, and she and Fiyero (he is so very pretty, but unhappy) run off with the lion cub (she'll have to add such a deep line for the accidental sorcery). They set the cub free, and she feels herself warming towards him, but no one can love a green girl and that is that. He belongs with Galinda. But as he turns and runs his sleeve slips and she can see thin little cut-cut-cuts up his wrist. (Maybe she was not the only one to play the game with knives, but it makes her some kind of sad to think of him marring his smooth pretty skin). That night, she marks the skin more emotionally than she ever had before (she is not that girl, Galinda is that girl, no one can love a green girl).
What she is waiting for happens, finally- she goes to the Emerald City, and she belongs there, with Galinda (who is Glinda now, confusingly, but Elphaba supposes she appreciates the sentiment). And then the lies start unraveling, and Elphaba has been tricked into such wickedness by her seemingly-wonderful Wizard. She runs away, even as they call out for her arrest (even as they call her the names lettered into her skin). Glinda follows her (her only real friend) and they must part ways (and Elphaba was going to tell her about the cuts, because she's starting to feel that they might be a wrong thing, but the guards are all-of-a-sudden there and she must fly). It's only later that it dawns on her (she left her knife behind).
She decides to forgo the knife for a while, to find other ways to bear it. It is difficult, but for five entire months she does not mar her skin. She is so very very busy, and some of the scars do last as she becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.
And then Father is dead (good riddance) and Nessa is Governor and the shoes are enchanted (maybe she can still do Good) and Boq is there and Nessa is stupid and Boq is almost, almost dead. She saves him at the cost of his humanity, encasing him in tin (and she's still just trying to do good but now Boq hates her too). That is the night she procures a new knife and the wounds are sweet and deep.
She must free the flying monkeys she created. It's a mission and a goal that keeps her from pressing the knife too deep and drowning in the red. She journeys to the Emerald City to confront the Wizard.
She arrives, confronts the man who calls himself a Wizard. He agrees to set the monkeys go, but he wants her to join him (her? why her?). He grabs her sleeve and pulls it up, revealing her latest red-on-green cuts (he smiles a little). A reformed criminal, he tells her (the people do love a reformed criminal.) The fact that he guessed her secret so easily (so very, very easily) lets her guards down and she agrees. The monkeys go free, but the injustice of Doctor Dillamond's nonverbal state sends her into a rage.
Then the guards are there and Fiyero is there and FIYERO LOVES HER (not Glinda) and Fiyero is with her and all hers (he gave up everything for her). The twinge of guilt Elphaba feels for Glinda is overshadowed by the hugeness of the fact that he loves her (maybe someone can love a green girl after all).
That first time, there on the forest floor, they tug off each others' clothes hastily, clinging to each other, and they both recoil. There are not so many scars on Fiyero as on Elphaba, but there are more than she imagined (why would he do such a thing to his perfect skin? Elphaba actually deserved it, Fiyero didn't). As he stares at her scarred skin, (Dear Oz, he breathes) Elphaba becomes very self-conscious (he must not have been prepared for the sheer enormity of her imperfection).
It surprises her greatly when she starts to cry. She hasn't cried, not once, not since she was two years old (and Mama was laid in the ground). She sobs in pain, in embarrassment, in fear. Fiyero still stares at her, unmoving. Suddenly she is so sorry for her wickedness, for the red-on-green (because now Fiyero will never want her, she is too flawed). Elphaba sits on the forest floor in her brassiere and underpants and cries brokenheartedly. Then he is beside her and maybe he forgives her for doing that to herself because he captures her lips in his and they kiss and she can almost forget.
The talking comes later, as they lie together on the grass. Elphaba has very few words for what she does to herself (he has very little patience for mumbles about the beauty of red on green) and she tends to deflect his questions by asking him why he did what he did (he was empty, brainless, shallow, it provided him depth and clarity, or so he said). It's revealed that he has not harmed himself (because he tells her that's what it is, she is harming herself) in over two years. As they dress themselves solemnly, he goes through her bag and confiscates her knife (she puts up a halfhearted fight as Fiyero throws the knife in the river).
They spend the rest of the day with him inspecting every one of her scars (especially the words, he hates the words). He tries to explain to her that she is none of these things she has inscribed, but she interrupts him (she says, I wish i could be beautiful for you, he says she is, she calls him a liar). He forbids her and she forbids him from ever doing anything like that ever again (and then they make love in the woods, pressing kisses to each fading wound).
She never takes up her knife again, except for once. When Fiyero dies in a cornfield (and it's her fault) and she cannot save him, she opens the skin again (too deep… she comes very close to drowning in the red). Once he is alive (he is really, truly alive) she regrets the cut (but he says it cannot be taken back now, that it is okay). They leave, leave forever, leave the past behind to die, and it's all okay now. Fiyero loves a green girl with scars (she cannot believe her sense of belonging with him). He stays as the scars fade and leave faint marks on her green skin (they are both imperfect, Fiyero is a scarecrow and Elphaba is scarred and green- they match so well). She clings to him when red-on-green calls to her, and he holds her through the night (under the stars same as Oz).
If you or someone you know are self-harming, please try to get help. Some good websites include:
Project Toe: www . projecttoe . com
To Write Love on Her Arms: www . twloha . com
Secret Shame: www . palace llama / selfinjury /
(take out the spaces)
Reviews are love. I do ask that if you choose to add my story to your Favorites list, you'd take just a moment to tell me why. I appreciate it!