Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fiction: For my Tuesday afternoon class...

"Here honey, try this one, it'll look lovely on you."

She watched in the mirror as the pear-shaped woman slammed a clear plastic comb attached to a veil into her hastily-made ponytail. She felt something in the back of her head snap and break, and prayed it was a tooth of the comb.

"Thank you, but I already told you, I'm not interested in wearing a veil."

"Oh nonsense, dear, everyone needs a veil. It's just a matter of how long and with what hairpiece." The woman crossed in front of her and fluffed the layers of tulle out around her confused, sweaty face, each arm at her side like a wing flapping an enormous white trail. "There, that's much better."

She noticed as the woman adjusted the veil that her mouth was hanging open and she could see her teeth: they were yellowed and kind of scummy, as if she'd been a smoker for most of her life. As the bridal consultant moved around her, she could smell something on the woman's breath: was that pot smoke? It had the earthy, acrid pungency of marijuana smoke, and was mixing with a heavy feminine note: Chanel No. 5. Her eyes darted upward to the eyes of the consultant, who was frowning at her, checking one side, then the other, for evenness. Her eyes were bloodshot, but seemed as open as any sober person's.

"There," she said, and stepped back off the pink carpeted riser the girl was standing on. "You look absolutely beautiful. See?"

She looked in the mirror and sighed. She was about four feet wide on the bottom, ensconced in a white bell skirt trimmed with crystals at the hemline that abruptly pinched in at her waistline, making her look the dome of a lampshade. The bodice of the dress had been too big for her, and was cinched at the back with giant, industrial-strength clothespins, to give her an idea of how a gown in her size would fit. On the bodice was an asymmetrical beaded design that drew attention to her flat chest. The consultant assured her that "with the right foundation garment, you'll be able to fill this dress out just perfectly." It was a strapless and as she looked down, she could see halfway to her navel down the front. Perched on her head in the center of her afro was a veil that reached past her shoulders and stopped at her elbows, attached to her head by a comb camouflaged by a trio of white silk roses.

She sighed again at her reflection, and felt her stomach flip. "You know what? I'm not feeling so well. I think I have to go."

She looked around and realized that she was standing there by herself. The gown saleswoman had scurried off somewhere, to help another customer, or perhaps to pack the pipe that she was carrying in her pocket. Blowing a huge sigh of relief, she twisted and tugged at the clothespins until they popped off one at a time, and then pulled the dress off quickly and kicked at it until her legs were free of the skirt. She shimmied back into her jeans and sneakers, yanked the t-shirt over her head, and grabbed her bag.

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