I would have thought she was George’s type. He liked them dark, small and slim, like they might almost disappear with a strong gust of wind. He liked a fragile looking face, like hers. I often wondered if George was a bit physically abusive because his uses of words like “breakable wrists” and “vulnerable faces” so often in his descriptions of women caused me to wonder why adjectives of weakness were so appealing to him.
George is no oil painting; perhaps he just liked some form of balance in his relationships. He was married once, a long time ago. He calls his former wife “the ogre”. An interesting description, the only one he ever proffers on the subject and one that does not bring breakable wrists and delicacy to mind. Perhaps she was abusive to him. Perhaps it’s his way of evening out the odds. He gets by on charm and success though, and he seems confident, so you just have to wonder.
Well I wonder, anyway. I spend a lot of time wondering about things like that. I blame my psychology classes at university. A little information, as they say, is a very dangerous thing.
And what I had on film seemed to be that very ‘little bit of information’ meant by the warning ‘they’ give. I know when I started to see the pattern there I actually felt quite chilled. I even stopped to look to see if the door to my little watching room was open because it felt like something cold caressed the back of my neck and I thought it might be a draught of some sort.
They say when the mystic achieves communion with their god, the sense of the numinous is bright and frightening and strange and alien all at once. Well this was something like that without the communion bit. High strangeness I think they call it. This was high strangeness indeed, and while intrigued, I admit to some fear also. We only really expect what we expect. Something completely new is…unexpected. You don’t see it coming. And in this case, you literally couldn’t.
What I saw of this woman might better be described as what I didn’t see.
She was a barmaid, first and foremost, dressed in the dark, low cut uniforms George requires. She seemed efficient, friendly in a vague way, but a bit aloof. Watching her you could speculate on what her dreams might be or what she was paying the way for by doing this job. You definitely got the sense this was a way-station for her. She wouldn’t be a barmaid for life.
This was not true of all of them. In some there was a sense of the lost and broken, of having given up already, in their stance, their expressions and the lack of energy at times in their movements. All were young here. George could probably get done for age discrimination in his hiring practices if anyone ever bothered to take him on. But some seemed destined, perhaps doomed, to this twilight world forever.
Not her though. Her twilight world, if it could be described as such was different indeed. Though I admit I didn’t realize this at first. It was just that she seemed different somehow, and so not likely to remain. I had no idea, initially, how different she would really turn out to be.
She made drinks for the punters, sometimes had a conversation or two, checked the till, stood up at all times with surprisingly good posture for the effort required, remained polite even when the night became tedious and seemingly never-ending. In those ways she was pretty much the same as all of them. They talked amongst themselves – there were usually three at least at any given time. They had a little dance for who served whom and to balance out the workload. It was a well-oiled machine.
But each night, as the hour got later, you could start to see weariness in her stance. At times this was heightened if there was some freak at the bar demanding more attention. That’s when it started to happen. Somehow the other barmaids seemed to pick this up, they moved forward more often, cut her some slack. But she..she…I don’t know how to explain this, apart from just saying what the film shows. At first she just seemed to waver, like some special effect I’ve created, or some glitch on the camera, and I’d curse the technology but it only happened with her, and it happened regularly. She almost shimmered. And when this happened, everyone started to look away from her if they haven’t already done so. It was like she wasn’t even there.
And then she wasn’t.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved