Wednesday, 23 December 2009


The car journey had been interminable. I'd drifted off in the amniotic embrace of damp air warmed by the car's heater. My head must have been leaning against my passenger window, since it richocheted away at the thud which seemed to presage the window caving in. Eyes bolting open, I saw Momo heading off towards the garage shop, flicking a signeted-ring middle finger up at me behind his retreating back. My woolgathering well and truly snapped, doused in petrol and ignited, I found myself staring befuddled through his vacated driver’s side window and saw another car parked by the pumps. Couldn’t see much of its sole occupant for the rain pulverising both our windows, but from shape of the hair it was a woman. Redhead, though hard to determine exactly what hue, in the duplicitous shimmer afforded under flourescence.

She had it bunched over on top of her head, that much I could tell. So much so I couldn’t see its apex beneath the interior of her roof. Perhaps she was a nurse, hair pinned up for her shift. Or maybe she was on her way to a Xmas Do, though you don’t want to be filling up with petrol in your posh frock and the Heavens have burst. Poor planning that is. Maybe she had a puncture. I could see the outline of her face in profile, but couldn’t make out any of her features.

And then it happened. She did that thing all women have in their armoury. A female version of shock and awe. I never even discerned her hands moving up to her head, but I saw the hair come cascading down alright. Like the gentlest of rockfalls when you’re scuttering down the slope, barely able to keep your feet. Or maybe more like a cataract and you wanna just plunge right in. Oh man! Don’t do that thing. Don’t do-! She only went and flaming did it! Shook her head from side to side, to further free her tresses now carouseling round. Ringlets concealing the hub of her face in a whirl of motion. My senses given over to a centrifuge.

Now I followed the indeterminate pink clump of her hand pecking at the locks. Distending them before letting them coil sinuously back into place. And then it was over and everything was unmoving inside her motor once again. Except for the raindrops nuzzling her window. Forcing me to peer hard. To penetrate their opacity. Rather than drawing back their curtain, I began to perceive how these pearls served to bead her hair flowing down her neck. Each one seemed perfectly located, regular and proportionately spaced. Even the elements were harnessed to her. Kismet or what?

By now I was leaning right over into the driver’s window and had steamed up a middle-sized portion of it, in an unimpeachable, misty oval. A manifestation of bated breath pushed through pursed lips. I made to clear the glass, but instead found myself etching a heart within the condensation. Suddenly this contour of my soul was being filled in and blotted out from outside. The woman and her car were also being eclipsed by the intrusion of a bodymass into my purview. My left hand hastily effaced the shape on the window, while I scrabbled with my right for the door handle. I almost fell out at Momo’s feet as the door swung ajar and the interior light came on to spotlight my self-incrimination. “Cheers Aki. Shift outta way yer lump”.

I’d regained my own seat cradling and squinted out the corner of my eye beyond Momo. The motion of him peeling soggy denim from his legs and sweeping droplets from his hair, kept breaking up my field of vision, but I could see smoke billowing from her direction. My goose was well and truly cooked. She was making to leave and though I craned my neck for one last gander, all I caught was the car moving off across the apron. A dark, oversized bubble, among slanting raindrops illuminated like tracer. I eased back to face front and stared at her receding chassis. Repeating her number plate inside my head over and over. This wasn’t done with yet, not by a long chalk. Finally I couldn’t pick out her taillights anymore. I turned to grin inanely at Momo, but was really sneaking a clandestine peek at the window behind him. The faint outline of the tip of a heart could still just about be made out. A single rain drop traced the hook of its contour and then plunged off. Momo turned the key in the ignition. "You owe me a score for the petrol brother".


Anne Tyler Lord said...

I really enjoyed! Very voyeuristic woolgathering! I had to look up the term - woolgathering.

It was suspenseful and had me hooked throughout.

"Repeating her number plate inside my head over and over. This wasn’t done with yet, not by a long chalk."
This makes me wonder if he has honorable intentions, or if she is in danger. hmm.... Do I need to warn her? give me the plate numbers.

Laura Eno said...

Woolgathering, indeed! Enjoyable story.

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks ladies - we are your slaves!


Marisa Birns said...

So there he was, one moment adrift and zoned out on a daydream and then, BAM, he is thrust into a birth of concentrated awareness!

And, yes, I do think it was Kismet.

Profuse and delightful!

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks Marisa, they shall inscribe 'Profuse' on my headstone, if they decide to veto the word 'prolix'!

jenn to the t said...

i just love these words.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Truly suspenseful, but such small actions! Nicely done!

Yes, the power of women. Especially redheads. :)


Deanna Schrayer said...

What a fun story. I could see his mouth hanging open. Great job!

Sulci Collective said...

Hey Cecilia thanks for your comment. In an unpublished novel of mine I wrote about a wine critic seducing someone down a telephone line simply through his wine critique!



Weezel said...

Nicely done . . . I felt as though I were watching a scene thru the eyes of a stalker! Brilliant imagery!

Sulci Collective said...

Thank you Weezel and welcome to my blog


mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Note to self: tie hair up on occasion :)

Sulci Collective said...

Too thin and brittle. M x

Laurita said...

Serious woolgathering. I was trapped in that rain as well, watching intently. Well done.