The Girl Who Always Wore Red
It was the girl who always wore red; it was her fault. The one whose fiancé died. I knew him, which made it somehow easier. Once we sat next to each other at a booth at the Homestead, the bar that had peanut shells littered all over the floor, and he kept eyeing my fishnet tights, the ones I wore to keep another boy’s interest, and I knew he wanted to sleep with me. And I remember thinking, poor girl who always wears red.
I forget her name, but she was from another country. She did something for the government, or a nonprofit. She baked; occasionally I would like her Facebook photos emptily, just for good will. You know, here and there. She wore headbands and liked polka dots and you never wondered about her childhood, the way you do with other people.
It was her fault for several reasons, the first of which was, we didn’t want to get ice cream in the first place. We were bar crawling, deliberately, on a mission to be delighted and alarmed. Anything could be around the next corner, anyone could step on our feet or buy our next drink and change our lives forever. Other pleasures were irrelevant, or, at least later to come.
I was tipsy and so was Laura and so was her boyfriend who would become her husband later that year in a backyard ceremony that TV shows will attempt to portray but will never get right: the flower hair wreath, the hand-written vows, the young hippy children, the mis-matched chairs and gluten-free cookies and craft cocktails shaken in vintage gold-leafed glasses. So you can imagine our hesitation when the girl who always wore red said, let’s go to Dairy Queen. It might have been on the same street and all, but it was off-key, if you will. But we went. After all, her fiancé had died rather recently; this was her first time out in months, and we weren’t about to squash her hopes and dreams.
(It was hard to know, at that time, what to do in that situation. The girl who always wore red was really only a friend of a friend—Laura’s friend—and I was looped in by association. There was a ceremony that I did not feel comfortable going to and, on second thought, I probably should have just gone. It’s always better to go, I suppose. Right?)
I did not like the flavor she had ordered ahead of me in line so I got vanilla. I watched her eat her cone like it was an assignment. Her focus was extraordinary. I did not want to sit next to the girl who always wore red because I did not know what to say to her or what I would say if she spoke to me. But she was not speaking anyway. She was sitting on a bench outside the ice cream shop while everyone stood in front of her, in a bulging semi-circle, talking about what they would do if they were ever invited to George Clooney’s coastal villa in Italy, their bodies turned toward one another, looking at their ice creams and occasionally up at the stars which were striking that night. Laura said that she would hide in his bed and someone else said they would look in his bathroom cabinet and I wondered if I still had those fishnet tights and remembered that they scraped my skin in a strange and painful way.
Lisa Gordon‘s work has been published in Requited Journal, Hypertext, Storychord, Eleven Eleven, Paper Darts, Brilliant Flash Fiction, BelleSf, Sidereal, and others. She has an MFA from California College of the Arts. Gordon lives in Boston.