A Girl with a Red Scarf

I saw this girl on the bus early Sunday morning after too little sleep.  What I saw in her probably says more about me than about her.

Her hair was cut at her chin, striving for a kind of boldness, but its whisps and curls made it fragile and uncertain, slipping down around her face as she leaned over her cell phone, drifting along the collar of her quilted black jacket.  She was clothed in blackness wholly, in black leather gloves and black wool skirt and black silk stockings and black patent shoes, and then, like blood, the redness of the scarf that split her blackness almost to the waist, a huge and ghastly incision, a wound that she had long ago given up trying to close, though her gloved hands, leathered and black, kept fluttering up, convulsively, to brush at the redness that spilled from her coat and chest, then down again to her skirt and tights, then up again to the colour oozing at her throat.  She is dipping her fingers in blood, I thought, to write her incantations, hesitant and wavering, on her arms and stomach and thighs, to inscribe the wards, now long belated, of her protection.

  1. Very enjoyable, though as soon as you leave the line, ‘ghaslty incision’, which is very powerful imagery, it loosens up, it’s not as tight, perhaps something ambiguous, for instance, ‘a wound she would dress and redress and readdress constantly’ up until you mention ‘incantations’ following ‘incision’ it seems to unravel, but the incantation brings it back home quite a bit.

  2. Curtis,

    The change in style and pace after “like blood” is intentional. Until that point, the girl herself is ordered and whole. After it, she is wounded and bleeding. The different styles of description are meant to reflect this difference.

  3. Perhaps a different image than incision is needed then, though it is very good, it’s striking, it is very medical and surgical and leaves a train of thought from that point on that seems, as you say, might be contradictory to you intent.

  4. I understand that you want something disordered in the voice now, even clunky and messy as to her behaviour, but the mentions of blood and ooze in that way just seem tired, already used if you get my meaning.

  5. Lauren said:

    I quite liked this. I once saw a woman wearing a lemon-yellow raincoat & rainboots on a sunny day that had a similar effect on me.

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