To Whit

Outliers.  People or places rarely connected to anything but themselves.  Outside the norm, extraordinary in some way, unfathomable to the rest.  They operate in their own sphere of influence, connected or disconnected to others in ways only known to them.  It makes it hard to keep close. Bonds thicker than most, but far easier to sever…

…and go unknown.  

This is the story of a woman who calls herself after a scarf.  A purple paisley scarf, to be precise. Here is the story of Paisley.

Picture the pattern.  Colorful teardrops, swirling about on the cloth, folding and frolicking in on each other, deeper, and deeper.  To Paisley, this is the world. Drawn in to her as chaos and random chance, creating a larger pattern of circumstances and connections seemingly at whim which are only fathomable to her.

Walk down the street, and what happens?  You may step in dog poop. If you are lucky, this will be the highlight of your mundane, average, every day.

What happens to her?  

She will narrowly avoid smearing her shoes in the poop and in doing so will have the man with the washing machine she doesn’t yet know she needs bump into her.  Only later she will find out that while she was out brushing with fate, her roommate sold her own washing machine for yarn money, which seemed like a desperately good idea at the time.

This will all inevitably lead to adventure and mayhem and quite a story to tell.  Do, become caught in the swirled world of the purple paisley scarf.


She flutters her pale eyes, taking a breath.  

Taking in the world again.  Music intrudes upon her senses.  Suddenly starting up again from the speakers in the cafe she finds herself in.  Now that the door was open to her mind, the din and clatter of dishes and the whir-whoosh of the coffee contraption barge in, making her acutely aware of one simple fact.

She has absolutely no idea where she is.

She is in a cafe.  Sitting at a table.  An oversized mug of tea, barely touched, cooling at her elbow.

Panic fights to rise in her, but this she quells with iron resolve.  She does not need to make a scene. She wants to. She wants to scream.  She wants to get bloody hysterical because she damn well knows it is not normal to suddenly become cognizant of herself while sitting upright, fully dressed, in a cafe, sitting across from an empty chair.  A chair, though empty, that she feels she’s been staring at for a while.

Her grip tightens involuntarily and she notices for the first time the purple paisley scarf.  The sight of it pulls her in and she gently draws it through her fingers. It feels sumptuous, luxurious, delicious.

Her mind drifts.  The canned saxophone hits a crechendo as the cafe fades away around her.  Hazy memories surface as she tugs at the threads of paisley sworls. Paisley.  

Feelings of fingers caressing her skin prickle her awareness, running deeper, eyes upon her.  

Eyes hidden.  Shaded by the brim of a black fedora.  Watching.

SLAMclick, the bathroom door.

“Well that wasn’t creepy in the slightest,” she mutters to herself.  Frowning, she looks down at the scarf again. ‘What IS my name?’ she wonders as she twirls it around her finger.

She adds that to her growing catalogue of ‘Things Which Must Be Illuminated.’

“Paisley,” she says.  “Paisley,” tasting the name.  “Paisley,” rolling it around inside her mouth, finding it acceptable.

“I’m Paisley,” she says, slightly louder than intended.

“What?”  Sniffles from her left.

Paisley turns to  see a woman, barely more than a girl, sitting at the table next to her.  Long black hair hiding a sweet face, obviously distraught and fighting to hold back tears as she leans over an iced frappasomething.

“I’m Paisley,” she says again, in a somewhat gentler voice this time.  She doesn’t have a monopoly on all the world’s problems, it seems.

“Lauren,” says her new friend.

“Hi,” she says feebly.  ‘Great, now what?’ She takes a sip of her very cold tea, doing her best to pretend it’s not, awkwardly stalling.  She watches the settled bits of tea leaves swirl, settling on the bottom in two uneven circles connected by a line.


Lauren doesn’t move from her desultory slouch until Paisley ventures forth once again, “What’s the matter, dear?”  Sometimes butting in is the best thing for a situation. A shrug.

“This would be a whole lot less awkward for both of us if you said something,” Paisley tries again.  Bold, check, character trait illuminated.

Lauren fingers her drink across the table, leaving little water circles trailing the glass.  Paisley swirls her tea in contemplation, refusing to subject her tongue to the bitter swill it has become.  Particulate patterns form and flow in the tepid depths her mug. Scenes form in her mind.

Paisley’s cheeks burn at the images frolicking in the virgin fields of her thought.  ‘That is neither safe nor sane, even if it is conscensual,” she thinks to herself, wondering how the human body can bend like that, somewhat curious.  Her mind slides down deeper through the images, to the heart of the matter.

“It’s a very sad thing when one believes the most interesting thing left for them to do is vanish, Lauren.”

-j.e. pittman