red

by amy sharp


I met this woman with the reddest hair that nature gives. It was dipped in fire and it shook when she laughed. She was younger than me by a chunk of time that held children and sweat and tears. She curled her lips up when she laughed and around her neck hung a pendant fat with amber. It dipped into her suprasternal notch and when I spoke to her I wanted to touch the necklace and push my finger into her neck softly.

The music behind us was Paul Simon and she told me a story that I had no business hearing. A story about her mother and father and the September night that they sat on a patchwork quilt on the great lawn of Central Park and listened to Simon and Garfunkle blast out the 1981 historical concert. They were long friends her parents, they were sometimes lovers, but mostly friends. Over 500,000 people moved around and swayed and the young couple could not stop kissing she said. "Kodachrome" was playing strong and perfect and her parents could not stop kissing. They decided to run away together that night. They left the city a month after the concert to wander the long beaches of Mexico and smoke j's. That next summer a red headed baby girl bellowed into the bright lights of some small exotic beach.

She told me all of this with her head leaning in towards mine. We nearly touched. I was gently stoned with bourbon and the scent of gardenia so thick it tried to crawl up my skirt. I was so heavy into the moment and her hair was like a feather on my cheek when the wind rose and I asked her how she knew so very much. How did she know about this story? How could she tell it like a secret? Like a harlot? No one really tells their love story all the way to the truth.

She said the summer that she was fifteen she had found her mother's journals and that they lived in her mind now. She said that she told the stories freely to others so we could all hear Paul Simon. She said he was inside of me now. And I stood up to walk to the balcony and with each step I pushed her face straight to my frontal lobes. I burned it all there like a fire and when I turned around and laughed and laughed at some silly boy she still stayed. Like they all do. The ones that walk around this earth being perfect. The ones that never die.