Thursday, January 31, 2013

Yellow Dress by Chris Castle


He remembered her in that yellow dress. Her hair was dark against the straps, like black velvet across sunlight. Wearing sandals, with painted nails, everything that was summer wrapped up inside her skin. A chance meeting, on an autumn day when the seasons had forgotten themselves and it was as hot as the best day in July. He recalled that feeling of time being vital and precious and the clock ticking as they moved amongst the busy weekend streets.

The two of them found a café and began to talk, the dress luminous amongst the darkly shaded walls, the thin trails of smoke and the hum-drum men and women around you. She had no idea, of course, of the power she had over others and that gave her grace. More manners that the baristas, more poise than the too made up women next-door. The two of them sat facing each other, elevated on stools, perched, as if they could have been waiting for something far more dramatic, a ticker-tape parade or an once in a life time eclipse. In his heart, though, it was just as important, just to listen to her speak.

As they sat and talked the noise settled and then fell away. She struggled with a number and dipped a finger in the water jug and wrote it on the table so he would understand. ‘75’ and after that day, he made it a lucky number. She kept the water on her fingers, marking a patch on that yellow dress. It made the material a shade darker by her chest. It became the colour of lemons, painted too thickly in still-life pictures. Time moved on and that feeling of losing moments even as they formed memories fell over him in sharp jabs of panic.

Morning fell away and became afternoon, until it was only the two of them left the empty café. He wanted to push the day further but knew she had other people to see. It was a form of darkness within him, that doubt, which left him crippled when it came to all the words he wanted to say. It was his curse; to articulate the unimportant things but be left silent in the real moments that mattered. As they both reached for the receipt, their fingers brushed knuckle against knuckle and instantly he withdrew, not wanting to offend her, even in that simple accident, his skin humming form her touch.

The two of them stepped out into the street. People were drifting home for lunch, while kids tore past us on their bikes, with more energy than the town. As they left the café behind, they walked side by side, avoiding the craters and dodging pot-holes as
best they could, as the shops pulled down their metal shutters for the day. The traffic subsided, the hustle and bustle of the cafes gone, so it was only the two of them, sharing words, following each other into the next subject and the next, still too early between them to be comfortable sharing silence. She would be leaving in the morning and he became aware that these would be the last moments they would share. He stole glimpses of her in the reflections of shop windows, watching the dress as it billowed with the breeze and skimmed in the spaces between the lower thigh and top of your knee. The way she adjusted it around her chest, shy the way pretty women can be sometimes. Side by side, he was transfixed by her as they walked up and down the broken roads, the resting crane and dumper truck and the rest of the chaos that comes with a small, busy town. Something in her, the way she held herself in that yellow dress, was a kind of magic that kept him mesmerised until he was captured by her smile, trapped by the curve of her shoulder.

She stood on the steps of the building, while he waited in the shade. The taxi appeared on the horizon and he used whatever powers he had to slow the world down for a moment, two, just to make the end last a little longer. The car pulled p to the side of the road and she broke from the step; no kiss was shared, but instead a brief wave, a mumbled plan to meet again, on another day, on an unfixed day around an unfixed date. The car broke back into life and the yellow dress was swallowed up by the sharp angles of shade from the car’s interior. She waved briefly and he returned it, their fingers flickering amongst the shards of sunlight, until she disappeared down the road, turning once, until her disappearance was complete. He stood in the shadows of the building, watching the daylight fade, until the last trace and flicker of the dress was gone from the corners of his eyes, his mind.

The yellow dress was what she wore. It will never fade, the hem will never unravel; it will forever stay pristine and perfect, as if just slipped from the hanger that morning. That is memory he will keep of her, complete and perfect, untouched by strangers, undaunted by time: that perfect lemon dress, as they walked into the late afternoon light of autumn; protected by each other’s hopes, safe in each other’s eyes, limitless to the possibilities of the future and each of them illuminated by the constant Grecian sun.

Chris is an English teacher in Greece.

This Zine Will Change Your Life previously published Buster and Tank by Chris Castle. Check it out.

Street art left to right by Roycer and This Is Awkward.  
Photograph by Adam Lawrence

"Swim & Sleep (Like A Shark)" comes from the new album, //, from Unknown Mortal Orchestra due out February 5th from Jagjaguwar. 

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