The Pink Scarf

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The Pink Scarf (Ashtrays to Jawbreakers, V. 2) A contempoary short story - August 16, 2014

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The Pink Scarf

Hanging on the chipped cement walls was a black sign with white bubbly letters that ordered, “Don’t Dump Coffee Grinds in the Sink!”

I did it anyway, using the tip of my pinky to stroke the remaining grinds out of my plastic coffee filter and into the enamel sink. The water spiraled brown as my skin burned red. I avoided looking in the 5x5 mirror ahead of me as I finished soaking the urn, remembering the psychology lecture from this morning. 77% of people were less likely to cheat, steal, or lie if there was a mirror in the room. I guess I was a part of the 13% that was unaffected. I wasn’t sure what that meant about my overall personality, but then again, I wasn’t sure I cared.

My dorm room was the second to last at the end of the hallway, and every possible seasonal decoration created by Hallmark was double taped to the flimsy frame. The resident assistant, the same girl who had made the bubbly coffee-hater sign, insisted on making door decs for each student. Everything from move-in day to return from spring break littered the crackled wood, and they all had cartoon smiles painted across the cheap construction paper. The latest one was a blooming flower—bubble gum pink—and yet I hadn’t seen a single bud on campus. If the flowers didn’t believe it was spring, I found it impossible for me to either.

I tore it down, unexpectedly ripping the rest of them down with it. Move-in day? Gone. Fall’s arrival? Gone. Halloween pumpkins? Gone. Thanksgiving turkey? Gone. Christmas departure? Gone. Valentine’s Day? Ripped in half.

There was something eerily pleasant about seeing the door covered with only my roommate’s name. I liked being gone. I liked not having a place to be. That’s why I chose what I meant to choose.

I walked inside, kicking the heavy door closed behind me, and locked it. The sparkling coffee pot returned to the burner, and the holiday nametags were carefully folded inside my vanity drawer. My movies—a very small collection of films from the 50’s—were stacked alphabetically, and all of my journals were pushed to the back my closet. The rest of my belongings were snuggling together in the minuscule trashcan by my desk.

I smiled with satisfaction, knowing that the room suddenly looked as if I had never really lived there at all. I pranced to my closet, sprung it open, and carefully picked out a long-beaded scarf, gifted to me by my aunt. It was the same delightful pink as the flower decoration the resident assistant made, and I hoped she would appreciate that.

I wrapped it around my neck, did a little dance, and pulled my chair away from the desk. For miles, I could see outside our dorm room window, and I wondered for a moment if anyone in the cars, even if they were miles away, could see me. Quickly, I decided this was impossible, mainly because no one drives with binoculars pointed at dorm rooms (at least, I hoped not), and secondly because the police would already be knocking on my flimsy door, begging me not to do it. Maybe they wouldn’t even bang on the door. Maybe they would just break it down since it needed to be replaced anyway. A part of me wondered what it would be like to be begged to do it.

This is where my mind went as I wrapped the far end of my scarf around the draining pipes on the ceiling. As any complicated story goes, my older sister’s ex-boyfriend’s, best friend’s ex did herself in by hanging herself on the same pipes I was holding onto—only two buildings over, three flights up, and two years in between, so I was pretty sure my scarf would hold me up once I stepped off.

Suddenly, and without any notice, the air conditioning gusted on, and I gasped, falling off the chair as it tumbled backwards. The cloth pulled, choking me momentarily, and then my back hit the ground, the pink cloth spiraling down and into my face.

It had come undone.

I coughed, my stomach lurching, and I spread my legs out as I stared at the draining pipe with wonder. Even inanimate objects kicked my ass.

Then, the doorknob of our room wiggled, and I jumped to my feet as my roommate’s voice filled the air. “Hey—”

She stopped in the entryway, her brown pupils widening as she glanced around the shared room. I held my breath, knowing she must have figured it out, but she shut the door without crucifying my selfish actions.

“Nice,” she finally breathed, throwing her backpack onto her desk before she picked up the tumbled chair from the floor. “It’s finally clean in here.”

I exhaled sharply and nodded as she moved around the room, checking things out, not realizing that the reason it was clean was because I had thrown all my belongings away. I stood up, brushed my pants off, and sat down in my own chair, expecting not to talk again, but she whistled to gain my attention.

“Mind if I open a window?” she asked.

“Go for it.”

Her short curls bounced as she turned the crank, and wind blew in between the glass and the wall. For once, it was warm. Spring must have arrived, after all.

I stared at my wall, refusing to get up to see if the flowers had – in fact – bloomed that afternoon. I bet they would be small and pink. They always were.

The coffee pot beeped, and my roommate walked right past me to grab a mug. When she filled it, she didn’t drink it. She only placed it on my desk.

“You look tired,” she noted, only to have her eyes drag over my face.

I prepared myself for an array of interrogation.

“By the way,” she started speaking, “Cute scarf.”

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