Mercy!

Mercy!

Imagine the Big O has his Fender Telecaster plugged in, the classic guitar lick lifts off to Pretty Woman. Sandra hears it and is that woman again, the confidence, the poise, the slim red dress caressing her hips, its swishing hem brushing the top of her knees.  She doesn’t quite strut and her movement is lighter than cat walk, she is not regal, though she has the elegance you might associate with high bearing; no, she is too frisky to be stately and too coquettish to be dependable, she is slinky and sensual, knowing. This beguiling quality comes not so much from her movement as from her expression, playful around the crook of her smile, the opal pool of her eyes highlighting hints of jade and turquoise.

Daddy used to warn her about the power of expression: smile like that with those eyes and you’ll sink a thousand ships; and ever since the smile has hardly left her lips.

A whistle! From the building site above? She looks up casually, an instinct for attention, a man in a hard hat waving exaggeratedly. She smiles and crosses the road. A hard screeching sound from behind; she can still stop the traffic when she needs to.

Into the town’s department store, the perfume gallery has hardly changed. She stops at Dior and offers her wrists to the assistant. The girl’s expression is strange, her smile frozen, her eyes darting around as if wanting help.  Sandra glimpses a mirror and pulls back, a chasm revealed, a grey haired old lady in a red dressing gown, her eyes fierce but still that smile, expectant, alluring. As help arrives Sandra picks up the song again:

Pretty woman, I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth , no-one could look as good as you. Mercy!

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About dogsbodiesandscumsters

Alan McCormick has been writer in residence at Kingston University’s Writing School and for InterAct Stroke Support, a charity employing actors to read to stroke patients. His fiction has won prizes and been widely published, including the Sunday Express and Salt’s Best British Short Stories 2015. His story collection, with micro-fiction inspired by Jonny Voss's pictures, 'Dogsbodies and Scumsters', was long-listed for the 2012 Edge Hill Prize. Alan has recently completed his second collection, Wild in the Country, as well as a memoir, Holes. See more of Alan and Jonny's collaborations at www.scumsters.blogspot.co.uk.
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