The Girl with Autumn-Red Hair

Red Hair by Pezibear

The Girl with the Autumn Red Hair: Image by Pezibear

Or Miss Perceive, a Story in Three Acts

(i)

“Stop!” he called.

“What?” she asked though she carried on walking.

“Stop. Please. Right there.”

“Do what?” she asked.

“That’s it, love. Great.”

“Excuse me?”

“I just had to take a photo of you,” he said. “Nothing personal, just you set off the scene.”

Her face said she wasn’t exactly impressed. “What am I, a tree?”

“It’s your hair,” he said, autumn-red. “It’s for a project, for college.”

“You’re an art student?” she said, making it sound like something not worth the aspiring.

“That’s right,” he said. “What about you?”

“Telesales.”

“Yea?” He retaliated, “And what do you sell, double glazing?”

She looked at him through narrowed eyes. Was that in distaste of him? But no, he realised, she was squinting against the sun. “Do I look the sort of person to sell double glazing?”

“No,” he said. “You look the sort to say no if I asked her out for a drink.”

“Would that be as payment for the photo?” she asked and cocked her head.

Would it be as payment? He ran the question. If she’d been a professional model he would be expected to pay. He nodded. She mistook it.

“Yea, okay then,” she said.

He gulped. She was agreeing? He’d only said it on chance.

“When?” he asked.

“You’re doing the asking,” she said. “You say.”

“Tonight?” he said, hopeful.

“Yea. If it’s early. Now I have to get back to work.” She checked her watch.

“What time?” he asked.

“Nearly one-thirty,” she said. “The boss will kill me if I’m late again.”

“I meant what time tonight.”

“You say,” she said, and then said, “You’d better make it eight.”

“Eight. At the Cock and Bull?”

“Sure,” she said. “I must go.”

She went, leaving him to wonder her name, this girl with the autumn-red hair.

(ii)

He was early. She was late.

He wondered, would she stand him up. But it wasn’t a real date. She’d only agreed to meet him as payment. Still, no harm in pretending.

He sat at the bar, eyes fixed on the mirror behind the optics. From there he had a clear view of the door. Every time it opened his heart did a flip. His hands felt clammy. His mouth was dry. Time for another swig. If she was much later in coming he’d already be drunk. He’d not tolerance for lager.

Then she was there, coming through the door, looking about her, trying to find him.

He stood, and the stool he’d been sitting on toppled over. Well, at least the clatter attracted her.

“It’s great to see you,” he said, still jiggling the stool to set it straight. “I was beginning to think …”

“The car wouldn’t start,” she said. “I ended up getting a taxi.”

“That’s good,” he said and she gave him a withering look.

“I mean, it means you can drink,” he said. “What are you having?”

“Vodka, lemonade, no ice, just a slice.”

The way she said that made him think she was a professional drinker. It would be no good him trying to get her drunk, hoping to have his evil way with her. She’d probably drink him under the table and walk away laughing. He ordered her drink and for himself another lager.

“Neil,” he said while the barman was occupied with the order.

“Why?” she asked.

He shook his head. “No, that’s my name.”

“Oh. Nicola,” she said.

“Nicky?” he asked.

“Nicola,” she repeated like a slap in the face.

“Oh. Well, hello Nicola.”

“Hello, Neil. Nice meeting you.”

Damn! Why hadn’t he thought to add that?

The barman brought the drinks. Neil paid. She downed hers in a couple of gulps.

“Thanks,” she said and turned to leave.

“Excuse me,” Neil called after her. “Nicola?”

She waited. He frowned.

“I thought we were having a drink,” he said.

“I thought we just had,” she said. “Thanks for the payment. I hope your project gets you a credit.”

“But …. “ he grappled for words.

“Can’t stop,” she said. “I’ve a date, don’t want to be late.”

“Oh.” What else could he say? He felt a bit queasy. He shouldn’t have had that last lager. Though it could be the disappointment as well. “Have a nice evening,” he said.

“You too,” she said and was gone.

(iii)

His hand wrapped around the camera that bulged in his pocket. She was gone forever out of his life. But he still had the photo—captured as pixels, no misperceptions—of the girl with the autumn-red hair.


A reposted short story, it first appeared on this blog in July 2014 as Miss Perceive

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
This entry was posted in Mostly Micro and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The Girl with Autumn-Red Hair

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    But will he keep it? 😉

    Like

  2. Lynn Love says:

    Well, she was a no nonsense gal, wasn’t she? Nice character contrast there, Crispina. They both cam across very clearly

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Thank you, Lynn. Because I’m so tied up with prepping the e-book, rather than to leave the blog as photos only I’m reposting from my early days. Very few people delve into the Archives, so I thought it an idea to pull them out, again put them on display, so to speak. It’s proving successful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        It’s a good idea when you’re pressed for time and I’ve done it myself from time to time. Tempted to just start at the beginning and work my way to the present 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        I am currently debating reposting my second ever serialised story. (Non Asaric). But I’m finding even to prep that is stealing time away from the main project. Yet it is one of my favourites.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Ah, time stealing – I know what you mean exactly. I’m always thinking I should enter more comps, rewrite the Gothic serial I posted on the blog, see if I can get it published as a novella … All that prevaricating erodes at the time I have for the WIP. I often feel frustrated with my lack of productivity

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        I can’t say I’m being unproductive: I’m roaring away with the Book One rewrite. But I feel I’m neglecting my blog followers, and they’re the ones who have been so encouraging . . . ho-hum, hey.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Oh, it’s me being unproductive, not you! Blog and WIP is a tricky balance. We’re all told to have an online presence and sometimes it’s only my blog followers encouragement that has kept me writing in the face of rejection. But it takes time – lots of time. I think I’m just indecisive and need a life coach! Do I concentrate on short stories (comps or magazine?), novels and which genre? Or do I put fiction on the back burner and concentrate on copywriting as a way to earn money? Just an airhead I think 🙂 Hope the rest of the rewrite goes well

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        I would not call you an airhead. Though I do know what you mean of options and indecisions. Easy to say ‘Go for what pays’, but does that lead towards what you want for the future?
        I remember (long, long time ago) I said I wanted to be published by age 40. Age 40 came, and I was still writing, submitting, being rejected (though often personally worded, that’s always encouraging). And I totally ignored that for the past few years I was being published. Mostly as ‘editorial’ in holiday magazines, but still published. I have since narrowed my ambition. But to e-publish still requires readers, so I like to keep sweet the ones I have here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Self publishing scares me a bit – it’s a daunting process isn’t it? And I’ve thought the same, that I needed to have a novel to feel like a ‘proper’ writer. But then I’ve had several stories published, had a handful of professional writing jobs and that’s more than many people have had.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Oh, I agree, and I’m fully behind you in what you’re doing. But for me, the short story is almost an alien form. I didn’t even read any until I started to blog. As to flash fiction . . . phew! Beyond me. I admire those who can do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        I enjoy writing flash very much – it feels like a relaxed exercise compared with character development and plotting a novel. I love a novel too, sticking with characters for a long story, but I find it harder

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        No, I’m a plotter. Truly, I can spend a year laying the foundations before I ever start typing the story. But then, while filling in and crafting the background, at every odd moment (eg. in bed before sleep, while walking across town, or on the bus) I’ll be writing in my head the key scenes, jots of dialogue, moments of humour, the ending. So when I do start into the actual writing it can go quite fast. I think it’s all that background work I love the most. Truly creative. Even though most of it doesn’t get used. Maybe that’s why I tend to write ‘series’: so I can keep on developing that background.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        I’d live to be a better plotter – anything too complicated just messes with my head. I’ve improved, but often I just focus on a mood and characters and drift along with it … Which can lead to some truly big messes and some lovely accidents too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Happy accidents; where would fiction be without them. And though I do plot, sometimes the story develops legs and it’s all I can do to keep pace! Sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Nice to have a mixture of the two – a framework with flexibility within it for your imagination to fill in some exciting details. I’m still trying to achieve that with my own writing

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        I’m not sure I could write any story without my imagination dragging me off into unexpected side-plots . . .

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        One of the joys of scribbling 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. gahlearner says:

    I like this story a lot. The characters are so well constructed, they jump off the page. Poor Neil though. I think he’s better off admiring Nicola from afar instead of being disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      I’m amazed at the response to this story. I wrote it x-years ago with intent to submit to a competition, then lost confidence, or something. I had CFS at the time. It then sat, in print-out form, through several years, and my recovery, to be posted on WP in 2014 under the title of Miss Percieve. It wasn’t exactly a hit. The change of title has given it life. But, I have to say, I am not a writer of short stories; this was written specifically for that competition. Which just goes to show (I’m not sure what it shows, but I’m sure it does!) Thank you for liking, and for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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