Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Girl-Witch (In a Graveyard of Sand)

I walk down the street and suddenly I see the face of a witch.

It's the first thought that enters my head. Witch. Perhaps it is a harsh thought on reflection, as I crouch down to get a better glimpse of her face. There is definitely something uncanny about seeing her like this. She had caught my attention as I was strolling past, some distance away from her. I had glanced across to my left and seen her dark form, and the milky-white oval of her face.

She is surrounded by common detritus: discarded, crumpled crisp packets; sweet wrappers; empty plastic bottles. To see her there is startling, and yet she doesn't seem out of place. It is as if the worthless things that surround her are trinkets or votive offerings; a shrine in honour of her presence.

Upon closer inspection, she is just a young girl. She may or may not be a witch, a person adept at the practice of witchcraft. It's her clothes that make her appear as if she is, and make her black and white image appear sinister. She wears a long black dress, and her pale white hands are clasped firmly together in her lap as she sits, facing the photographer. Wavy strands of dark hair curl and creep down her back. She also wears a broad-brimmed black hat, and its perhaps only my imagination which convinces me that the hat is pointed, behind the brim.

So I pick up the torn piece of paper with this strange black and white image of the girl-witch printed on it, and I take it with me so that I might have the opportunity to study it more closely when I arrive home.

Later on, under the bright glare of my desk lamp, I begin my examination of the image upon the torn paper. Up close, it looks pixellated, as if the image was printed from a computer file. I wonder who the girl in this picture is; and when and where this photograph was taken. I also wonder how I came to discover this; who printed the picture out and then tore out the image of the girl, discarding it there on the street pavement without folding the paper or screwing it up.

Because the picture is black-and-white, and pixellated without true clarity, it's hard to tell where the girl in black is sitting. Her surroundings look almost like sand on a beach, although she's not dressed for the beach. Is she a young Victorian holidaymaker sitting by the sandcastle she has just made? There is an unknown dark background in the distance, and another similar curious construction behind her, to her right. Except, a problem: the sandcastles don't look much like sandcastles to me, but more like graves. She sits in a graveyard of sand, and the picture forms a sinister impression in my mind yet again. The picture is as cryptic and baffling as the chances of me stumbling across it; the mystery intrigues.

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