Fall Issue 2022
"Red Bandana," by Frances Davis
I was engrossed in a book about Catherine the Great, when he bumped into me and spilled tea all over my rain jacket.
"Shit. I am so sorry I was trying to get past you."
"Damn this is a new jacket,” I said as I took off my jacket, and as I was wiping it off, I looked up and saw a very attractive man. He had hazel eyes, short brown hair, and glasses. The British accent helped too.
He said he was attempting to grab a copy of a Russian short bio on the top shelf above my head. He was quite tall but husky, and he wore a t-shirt, wool blazer, jeans, and hiking boots.
Scowling, I moved aside so he could grab the book he was so eager for and when I turned to go to the register with my own book, he grabbed my arm and asked my name.
“Una”, I replied
He gave me a curious look, which I am used to. Not too many black girls have a name like mine, but my parents were strange that way. I resented this name in grade school, but as I got older I thought it was pretty cool and there were not many Una Jackson’s in the phonebook so I felt it was as unique as I was.
"Hello Una my name is Kenneth and, again, my apologies for the spill on your jacket.” "It’s okay, it’ll wash off in 5 seconds outside… okay so I have to ask, are you visiting here from England or do you live in the states"?
"I moved here about six months ago for a job".
"So have you gotten used to living in rainy Washington?
"Not so different from London I guess".
"Oh yeah I guess that is true… well um…nice meeting you Kenneth and enjoy that book". I paid for my bio and headed towards home when I heard Kenneth call after me…I turned around and he said,
“Hey I hear the other thing this state is known for is coffee and if you don’t mind I would love to buy you a cup.”
I hesitated, but only for a moment. It was not often I bumped into cute British guys in a bookstore who wanted to go out. But then again I was anxious to head home and wrap up in a blanket to dive into the book I just purchased, and I was not too trusting of this boldness… Does this really happen? But he is new to the area and perhaps it is just a gesture for spilling on me. “Well I guess we can head to the café a block from here, but I can’t stay for long.”
We ended up talking over coffee for about an hour, and though I was a bit stiff and uncomfortable with this stranger at first, he quickly put me at ease. We mainly talked about books and our jobs, but after our coffee we exchanged numbers.
Kenneth called me that night and we talked on the phone for five hours. It was one of the best conversations I have had in a long time. He talked about his days in university, and about his family, which consisted of his parents who resided outside of London in Essex, a sister, and brother. I told him about my eccentric parents and our travels around the globe. I was an only child and both my parents resided in the Boston Harbor area near Olympia. I told him about my degree in creative writing, and my goal to finish Grad school with a Masters in European History. Kenneth was a graphic artist working for a small but successful firm. We were both 32 and we laughed at the fact that we preferred to stay at home with books rather than going to bars all night. We connected instantly and we began dating… after the first time we made love he held me close and we just talked while sharing a plate of mini chicken tacos with guacamole in bed. The next morning Kenneth was up making coffee and I stretched across the bed feeling sexy and relaxed, as he walked back into the room with our coffee, he could not stop laughing…I asked him what was so funny and he told me to look into the mirror and I laughed too…my hair was a hot mess…my curly hair was all over the place rolling up and down, creating peaks and valleys that caught our laughter. I then told him that if he was going to date a black woman he should keep a supply of scarfs in his drawer because our kind of hair does not keep well after a night of hot sex. Kenneth walked to his drawer and pulled out a red bandana and I tied it around my hair. He kissed me gently on the forehead and I pulled him back into bed.
I never returned the bandana, nor has he ever asked for it back. Now, ten years later, it is thin and the color has faded, but I still love it, because it brings back some great memories. While packing some items into my old trunk, I came upon it. It seemed like yesterday.
I grabbed the bandana and went downstairs.
Kenneth was in the kitchen making tea while balancing our daughter Zoë on his hip.
“Hey remember this?” I said as I approached the kitchen table to sit down.
"What is that"? Kenneth said, without turning around.
"It’s the red bandana you gave me the first time I stayed at your place." I could tell Kenneth was smiling even though I was looking at his back.
“Momma that scarf is pink not red” our son Henry announced from the table."
Yes honey, I guess it is, but it used to be red. It was the first present your papa ever gave me".
Frances A. Davis is a graduate of The Evergreen State College. Writing has always been a passion that started as a young girl. Frances lives and teaches in the Pacific Northwest, she is currently working on her first collection of short stories.