A Normal Tale of a Vermillion Woman by Annalise Edwards


A Normal Tale of a Vermillion Woman and Her Viscid Friends

I walked by a woman at the Bergen Street subway station today. The ground was covered in old chewed up gum blackened by dirt and grime from years of shoe soles stomping on them. People don’t think about chewing gum that’s been spit. People don’t really think about chewing gum at all.

The woman wore a bright orange trench coat the color of the bottom of a goldfish cracker bag, only made out of ratty yarn and cloth patches covering moth-bitten holes at the armpits. Her hair was black and sharp, as though she was some kind of cartoon character made from blocks of color. I couldn’t see her eyes- they were covered by sunglasses covering her face from the end of her bangs to the middle of her cheeks. She had a crooked nose and thin red lips, like how I’d always secretly imagined Cruella de Vil. I was made of water vapor to her- she saw me as a blurry mist in the distance, hurriedly passing through me to escape the incoming rain. 

As she trod by, I heard brief exclamations slipping out of her lips:

Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen… 

She was looking straight down, her neck at a perfect right angle to her hidden spine under the crumpled orange cloth blanketing her body like the hide of a sheep. Through the coat’s large sleeves, two of her carefully manicured fingers appeared, pointing at the blackened spots on the ground of the station. 

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty… 

My eyes followed her fingers until she reached the exit, gracefully clicking up the stairs and out of view.