Woman In Dust

Woman In Dust

by Charles A. Gramlich

Quiet hung like incense in the empty church when the woman came in coated with summer dust. She wore white feathers in her hair and sweat left her gypsy dress clinging to her like a silken fog. I don’t know that she was beautiful. Her hair was streaked a dirty blonde; the kohl that darkened her eyes had smeared on her cheeks from tears. But the paleness of her face strummed nerves in me I’d long thought dead.

She came all the way down to the rail before the altar. I knew she’d seen me, though she made no acknowledgement of my presence. When she knelt, I heard the whisper of cloth over her long limbs and the crack of her knees hitting the floor. The sounds were brittle and exquisite.

The woman’s gaze was lowered, but a glow of emotion lit the cheeks beneath. When she finally did look up, I saw that the whites of her eyes were marbled with the red of broken blood vessels. Her irises were pure, though, pure as gin, pure as sin.

She began to murmur. It wasn’t exactly a prayer. It was life. The words were wild, full of cemeteries. I saw them rise like ruins reborn. I heard the bells of angels in them, but their scent was that of scorpions.

Her words sped. Her voice was hoarse, wired with hope and hopelessness. For a moment it all streamed out of her. Electric. Ecstatic. Flagellant. In that moment I felt strength begin to pour back into the mold of myself. Almost, I could scream with the power of it.

Then the woman inside the dust looked directly into my eyes. She did not see me. She saw only porcelain and paint, only a statue upon a cross. Her voice faltered; she looked away but it no longer mattered.

I sank back into myself. Once more I began to wait for the one who would finally have the power to call me forth. My patience was wearing thin.

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Charles A. Gramlich

Charles Gramlich is the author of the Talera fantasy trilogy, the thriller Cold in the Light, and the SF novel Under the Ember Star. His stories have been collected primarily in three anthologies, Bitter Steel, (fantasy), Midnight in Rosary (Vampires/Werewolves), and In the Language of Scorpions (Horror). His works are available in print and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Wildside Press. Charles blogs at: http://charlesgramlich.

14 thoughts on “Woman In Dust

  1. Great imagery, though there are a few stumbles where the chosen vocabulary doesn’t quite fit “strummed nerves in me I’d long thought dead”, and the first couple of sentences change subjects half way through.
    e.g. “She wore white feathers in her hair and sweat left her gypsy dress clinging to her like a silken fog.”
    The main subject is changed from “She” to “sweat” – a slight inversion >and the gypsy dress clung to her sweat like a silken fog <.

    Overall it is a brilliant little piece and the narrator is superbly revealed at the end.

  2. Charles-what an intriguing woman that had that man mystified. I can clearly picture her looks as well as her aura. Amazing imagery!

  3. Testing to see if I can comment using a different email address. For some reason mine is not going through, although I’ve tried on several stories. Thanks to all for their kind words on “Woman in Dust.”

  4. Brilliant imagery. Poetic. Accepts multiple interpretations. Magdalen returning? To me it has a deep religious twist. In any case, amazing story despite interpretations.

  5. Yes Sir! For me, the unexpected comparisons and word usage set the stage brilliantly. Flash fiction succeed or fail spectacularly and very quickly. I call this one a success.

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