This story is part of a series of very short stories I wrote by settling on an image — a red dress, a five pointed star, a bird, other things that caught my eye — and then following the image through the writing. A Token of My Affliction has three red dress stories, three star stories, at least three stories with birds. Can you spot them?
As with almost everything I write, I was a surprised first reader when this character started talking. Who is this gal? What a liar!
“The River of Babylon goes around a little bend right near where we were doing the baptism so when I got around the corner I kicked over to the shore and hauled myself up it, and started to wring out my dress. Pretty soon, I’ve got this long coil of wound up red velvet cause I’m wringing it out a few inches at a time, then hauling some more out of the water, and wringing that out, and there’s like this velvet rope like you have at the theatre while you’re waiting for the stars to get out of their limousines and come up the red carpet. I used to date John Malkovich, and we went to those movie things all the time, so I’m pretty used to it, and it’s no big deal. But where I was on the shores of Babylon, the ground is all covered with little pine cones and cedar fingers turned brown and nice soft dirt and old juniper because the River of Babylon, as many of you know, starts in the Muskokas, and, as some of you don’t know, my dad was the King of Ontario for a while so we’ve got this castle or palace or whatever right on Lake Muskoka near Bracebridge, across from Frank Miller’s house near Santa’s Village.”
This story first appeared in Descant, 123, Winter 2004 and in The Turkish Anthology of Canadian Literature – Beyond the 49th Parallel – – 49. Paralelin Ötesinde – Kanadah Yazarlardan Öyküler.