The Black Shawl

The black shawl talks to me about Jenny and Julie, but only between scene breaks. A rule I made. We talk only when three asterisks appear in the novel I’m currently reading. When the scenes are long, the black shawl tickles my skin urging me to listen to its bedtime tales: Jenny and Julie’s Short Story Collection. But an asterisk is an asterisk is an asterisk.

The black shawl warmed Jenny’s shoulders and when Jenny died, it warmed Julie’s shoulders.

Jenny and Julie performed many acts of love, the black shawl tells me. They freed caged birds. Baked cakes and cookies for orphaned children, wrapped bandages around charred fur.

Jenny and Julie loved at the same time owls went hunting. Loved in the midst of a rutting ruckus, in rooms filled with cobwebs, snakes and hay during nights when the moon went in hiding too.

Threadbare tassels hang from the shawl’s periphery slapping against my pyjamas while the rest of the shawl clocks up snoozes.

Wake up, the tassels say, don’t be like Jenny and Julie. Love in the light.

Is the heating working again? Goosebumps shrink, arm hairs flatten, and the blanket lands on a pair of slippers.

Tassels are like the footnotes of a story, a glossary of terms in a text book, so the black shawl’s tassels explain several love-in-lighting options. Rooms flooded with incandescent bulbs, fluorescents, romantic candles, elegant elevator ceiling fixtures, the good old lamp, sexy spotlights and the most famous, our brightest brilliant star.

The black tassels slide into slumber too. Like an Aesop fable, the black shawl has taught me the moral of the story.

***

A sun sunny morning penetrates my bedroom. I lift the window and shake the hair balls that have gathered around the black shawl. They tumble into a thorny bush. I hang the black shawl in the wardrobe, but that’s like hanging Grandma Julie, so I bury the knitted number in the drawer. Afterall, I’m too old for bedtime stories.

***

Isabelle B.L is a teacher and writer based in France. Her work can be found in the Best Microfiction 2022 anthology, Alternate Route Summer 2022 anthology, Flash Fiction Magazine, Visual Verse and elsewhere.