Oh my God, what am I / That these late mouths should cry open / In a forest of frosts, in a dawn of cornflowers.
—Sylvia Plath, Poppies in October
The skirt, caught by the wind, took over her whole life in that moment. She fought it down with embarrassed palms as the wind whipped leaves almost cartoonishly across the quad. In the flowerbed the plants seemed to grit their teeth and brace themselves. We didn’t see this coming. She thought she caught the skirt with time enough to save dignity, she thought, but she knew she could never be sure. She could never see through every eye; she could never draw a bead from every pupil to her legs, so exposed and cold there, for a second.
And she had yelped, too, when it had happened. She felt ashamed, had reddened. She saw herself detached from her own self-knowledge but rather as framed by the consciousnesses of others. And she remembered fighting the plaid skirt down towards her knees, a frenzy of knuckled tautening, as the nuns’ eyes roved, floodlights.
Her cheeks glowered pink, red. She braced and set her neck against the wind. Whoever she was, she had to be that, right here, right now. Never mind the Monroe moment, never mind the fear. Never mind the diffracted versions of self captured in the eyes of another. It did not, does not, will not, matter. Her heart hammered her ribs and then upon the office door.
This post is one of my ongoing self-imposed challenge to write a piece of flash-fiction a day. Here's today's prompt: