Ino and I both wrote a flash fiction story called Vermilion
“I never put blood on the dolls,” said the toy-maker.
“Then what’s all this vermilion on their skin and clothes?”
“It’s meant to approximate rosiness. To make them look healthy. I assure you, they’re not voodoo dolls, and I haven’t cut them and made them bleed.”
The old witch in the pointed hat didn’t look convinced. “That’s what you say, but I’ve seen the like before. Those dolls should be in MY store, not yours, and properly labelled for what they are.”
She picked one up and held it up to the light, and then she shook it.
“Look, the vermilion comes in a bottle. You squeeze it out onto their cheeks. I can show you the paint tube if you like.”
“Don’t bother,” she said, throwing the doll to the floor and riding away on her broomstick.
In the cupboard, the vermilion bottle shattered.
“This flower is vermilion,” said Ruth. She thought she was safe with that, because after all, flowers come in so many different shades.
Do you know what colour vermilion is? Can you tell the difference between that and other shades of red? I bet that to you it’s just a word that you roll around your tongue, without having any idea what it means. I bet you like it just because it ends in ‘million’.
Ruth’s mother went to fetch a paint chart, the kind that you use when you’re decorating, and pointed out vermilion on it. “No, that’s wrong,” she said. “This is vermilion.”
Ruth sighed. She knew that all the paint charts varied, and that on another one the colour that her mother was pointing to would be crimson or carmine. But mother was obstinate, and would never believe that.
When her mother had gone she researched the origins of vermilion dye, and managed to find a detailed historical article, with a picture. It wasn’t the same colour as her flower, and it wasn’t the one on the paint chart either. It was a colour she loved. She wanted to put it on her lips, and dye a tablecloth that colour. But probably no-one would recognise that she had used vermilion, because they wouldn’t know what colour vermilion was.