For a few years now I’ve meant to have a side project where I describe strangers in more or less literary ways. This month, for some reason, I started doing that and I shall quote here the first three (and so far the only three) descriptions of strangers.
Just observed a lady ring the hotel reception-style bell at a train station bakery over and over, the bakery looking strangely empty. I peered over the counter, no bodies. Just junk space architecture; abandoned place in the middle of a crowded station bristling with purchase, consumption and destination.
Eventually a baker arrived from stage right, wearing a service worker plastered-on smile and tilting her head back unnaturally like a mannequin, ready to take the lady’s order, teeming with rage or frustration at something the lady could not and cannot know.
It was enough to have me break out into prose.
On the train north this morning: a woman in a salmon cardigan, black parka moulted around her body in her seat. Straight hair reaching past her shoulders. It’s been maybe three months since she blonded it last and the effect is a gradient.
Baby with a big red pacifier and sleepy eyes sits in her lap, in an exoskeleton of dark blue with pale pink patterning.
The mother is holding her phone, casing cracked like a refrozen pond, at eye-level for the little one while she herself stares absent-mindedly out the window, having barely snow-dappled landscape drifting by for entertainment
The corner of the square with the hostile blue lights shining. Crime reduction lights, like from under a flying saucer stunning us into deference. He was shouting into a mobile phone. Face barely visible under the hood of the black parka, with the blue contours from the landing lights.
He held his phone away from his face and greeted me, asked if I needed any help, which is how they ask to sell me drugs now.
I told him I was good and he nodded, put the phone back to the side of his face and walked into the light.