The Woman in the Red Dress

June 26, 2011
By , Bronx, NY
The woman in the red dress is very pretty. She lies on a golden couch by a window in a marble room; the dress is like the scarlet smile of that lady you saw on the train, in the elegant straw hat that covered her eyes, the one you felt you knew, and when she got off by herself at the station in the grassy countryside, you wanted to follow her -- the one you wished all the rest of your life you had followed. Where might she have gone? you ask yourself. Where is she now?

The woman in the red dress has a smile too, but it is simpler, more transparent. She looks out the window into the blue air of the almost-night, where a small streak of valiant sun fights, is losing. The woman’s smile isn’t scarlet, it’s pink, pink and simple like a china doll. Her hair is black and braided, it was never not braided, it has always been braided. Her feet are clean and bare.

But what are her eyes like? you ask. You didn’t describe the eyes; you must have forgotten them. You’re wrong there. I was just getting to them, but they are difficult to describe, because no eyes are quite the same as the woman in the red dress’s eyes.

Underneath I suppose they are brown. The innocent kind of brown, sweet like honey from the orange blossoms, so well meaning, so good-natured. They have a glint of gold in them; but each eye is worth more than that. There is really nothing more to say -- oh yes, one more thing. They are, first and foremost, unaware. Unaware of what? Of what awaits her tonight.
It is a horror she knows about, for it confronted her once. There is concern in the eyes, she knows what she saw and cannot deny its terribleness, for she was hurt by it, oh, yes, the eyes were hurt worse than ever before. They were wet and shining with the question: “But why?”

She still does not know why. But she believes the horror was a phase, something that will pass, so she preludes her downfall with forgiveness. “Goodness will prevail,” she said. “I have nothing to fear.”
And so she remains, until the sun gives up and floats away, and the curtains sway, like dancing girls, white dresses. It is time to draw us closed, they say, in tinny voices from far away.
The woman in the red dress rises; and as she closes the curtains, her face grows pale, her eyes pulse and darken. Can she feel it, does she know?

She sits back on the couch, staring into the curtains. And something moves within her, and a soft peace descends into her mind; and she begins to sing. The song has three verses and no chorus. She sings the verses over and over, she can hear the violin and the cello in her delicate ears, playing for her, and for only her.

The marble wall twists behind her. She sings and sings, raises her head to face the ceiling, neck, long and graceful, like a lonely swan. She has never even attempted to sing before; this song has blossomed out of her childhood, from a time when her mother used to have moments alone in the dark, just her and her voice. But the woman, a girl at the time, still in a red dress, heard her mother through the walls, and it was like the whole world was listening and weeping.

The marble wall looks as if it is burning. It turns slowly black, begins to crumble into soft powder, falling silently onto the marble floor. The woman’s hands are pressed into her red silk lap. It is coming, it is coming! Stop it and turn around!

If only you weren’t so trusting. If only you weren’t so innocent. If only you would learn to suspect and fear the ones you love, maybe you would never die.

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darin78 said...
Jul. 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm
very cool stor;y... made me think
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