As soon as she trod the path, the gold beneath her feet dissolved, her shadow revealing a shaft of red brick. She sighed knowingly, disappointed. It could have been a gold brick road, if only her legs didn’t cast their shadows on them.
Still, it was a lovely evening and she was glad to have been let off early from the lecture before. It had been a rather dry affair and made everything outside look extra-lovely in comparison.
The sky seemed exceedingly blue and cloudless. Seemed, only because she didn’t really look up. She didn’t bother. She just knew, somehow, with the air so light and airy like that. She was practically swimming in it, the coolness settling around her like a silky cloak.
It was one of those simply divine ‘I am one with the earth’ moments.
She reflected on the day just passed. It had been an ordinary one, not too good, not too bad.
She thought of her friend who always made her laugh. She smiled now to herself, trying and failing to suppress her chortles. She had laughed to herself last week too, along the same way home. She wondered if anyone had noticed her and had singled her out so. The girl that smiled her way home. She decided that it would make for a good story.
She walked past the bus stop and all the faceless people waiting there. She made herself stop smiling so that the faceless people wouldn’t think strangely of her.
As she hurried past, the cold of a blizzard blew right through her. In a flash, she was gone. She’d wasn’t there anymore. She knew that because she was in snow, and it never snowed back home.
She had a vague impression of where she was. In Europe, somewhere. The only other place she’d ever been that made her fall in love with it because it had snowed. She’d been generously bestowed petals of snowflakes there, floating gracefully down, like precious dancing feathers.
The snow here was different, though. Rough and icy and bitterly cold. She couldn’t feel the cold as much as she could see herself, wrapped up in thick woollen coats and cotton gloves, struggling to keep to the pavement. The wind was damnably strong.
Then, almost as suddenly as it happened, everything stopped. The snow stopped. The wind stopped too. Everything died into a peaceful quiet.
The snow had blanketed everything in sight. Everything glowed a serene white. She saw that there were statues, black statues among the white. She saw that she was walking by a river, a lovely green blue canal with a bridge set across. A little ship, with little people on it, quietly drifted along. She noticed the lamp posts, trimmed with gold and the houses, rounded with gates.
The snow seemed to fade, and she found herself on a brick path again, a grey, cobbled path this time. The fog cleared some more and she saw other fashionably dressed faceless people walking up and down the roads, in twos and threes, chatting amiably with their companions and minding their own business.
Then she saw her, the gypsy. She saw her with surprising clarity against the white, cloaked in her black hood and cape with her dark curls tumbling past her shoulders. Her ‘deer caught in the headlights’ expression flashed across her face, which was as dark as roasted almonds, yet appeared as pale as snow.
She took in the knitted sling bag she wore, hand stitched with leather. She heard the thin gold bangles and odd coloured beads tinkling against each other at the jolt, making her sound like a muted toy chandelier.
And she saw the feather dangling from her ear.
Her eyes glowed with a fire burning deep in her hearth, a smouldering lamp. In them, she saw an unnamed fear masked by a rakish, daring nerve gained from her experience of gambling with the world. She saw a rebellious anger and a cool indifferent arrogance melded together all at once. The gypsy let her stare. She knew that she was a mystery that could never be understood and was proud of it.
They were captivating eyes.
The girl heard a shuffle in the snow behind her. She didn’t turn around. She knew who it was, like how she knew the sky was clear without looking, and she knew he would come. The gypsy gasped when she saw him and backed away. When he didn’t come for her, she took to her heels and fled into the snow, cursing under her breath.
They watched her run.
From behind, he reached out to her but she didn’t feel his touch because she too had left and was already walking on the red brick road home.