Monday 9 September 2019

The Purple Scarf

by Wendie Lovell

a glass of champagne with a splash of cassis

It was the scarves that first caught my eye. Brightly coloured scarves, swirling in the breeze, beckoning me inside the tiny shop in this charming French town. I stopped to take a photo. A magnificent backdrop against a bright blue sky.
   As I stepped inside, a tantalising aroma flirted with my nostrils. Incense? The small space was an Aladdin’s cave of trinkets. I wandered around, the relative darkness inside reflecting my mood. The shop appeared unoccupied apart from myself.

  My mind kept returning to the purple scarf I’d seen outside. I liked purple. With my life back home in shreds, I felt it might cheer me up, but how was I meant to purchase it if there was no one around? I caught sight of a bell on the counter. I would ring for assistance.

  A young woman appeared from behind the screen. She didn’t look well and I felt sorry for disturbing her.

  ‘Bonjour Madame.' I tried out my best French. ‘J'aimerais le foulard violet s'il vous plait.’ I gestured outside. She shuffled out of the door and came back holding the only purple scarf, but didn’t utter a word. “Merci beaucoup Madame.’ I said.

  She reached up and tied the scarf a little too tightly around my neck. I looked in the mirror and nodded, it was just what I needed. The price tag said 10 euros. I fumbled in my purse, pulled out a 10 euro note and handed it to her.

  ‘Ne reviens pas.’ She said. I was startled, why was she telling me not to come back? Not the sales tactic I was expecting.

  Pleased with my purchase, I sat in the little square outside the shop and ordered a coffee. I watched the scarves twisting and turning in the breeze, forming a rope of many colours. I ran my fingers over my silky scarf and it momentarily lifted my spirits. Oh the things one could do with a scarf!

  A week or so later, against the shopkeeper’s advice, I decided to return to the shop and purchase some more as presents to take home. I reached the tiny, vibrant square in the Bastide town and found there was a market taking place. It was difficult to spot the shop amongst all the hustle and bustle. Ah, but there it was, behind the fruit and veg stall. It was shut. I looked through the window and to my surprise it was empty and looked as though it was falling apart. I turned to the stall holder and enquired after the shop and the woman with the scarves.

  I shuddered when I was told that the shop had closed some years ago, after the woman who owned it had been found, her face the colour of the bright purple scarf she had been strangled with.


About the author

  Wendie has had two previous short stories published in CafeLit this year. This third story was inspired by a recent holiday in France.

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