Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fiction by Aleathia Drehmer

The Dress
by Altheathia Drehmer

The need for attention proves agonizing the crazier Jenna feels. It assails her mind until no corners are untouched by its wickedness. She sees herself strutting through the center of town, through the business square with its one street bustle, in her full-length seventies gowns, being judged and juried by the community.

The dresses are hideous, showing the degree of her mental decline, they speak to her, and she hears their language; listens to the stories about the journey the garments have made from person to person until landing on the racks at Salvation Army, waiting for her to rescue them.

The automatic door opens slowly with a creaking of age. The smell of time hits her in the nose. She runs her left hand over the garments. Each gown glows with an aura making her fingers get numb and tingly. Jenna closes her eyes to avoid biasing her choices based on favorite colors or textures. A dress must be felt intrinsically to achieve the status of the midday parade through downtown. No ordinary gown can qualify.

Her entire body halts as electricity arcs into her fingertips. The feeling is strong and Jenna hesitantly opens her eyes to reveal a wonder. Beneath her hand is the most glorious dress she has ever seen.

It is 100% polyester, floor length, black and white calla lilies pieced together in a visual feast. The sleeves are full to the wrist, and the neckline plunging into a shift bodice that pulls the eye to the floor. Jenna quivers in anticipation of trying the dress on. “It has to fit, it has to fit,” she chants to herself on the way to the dressing room.

The curtain to the small changing room slides over easily, the sound of it reminds her of getting in the shower, it smells of mothballs and old ladies, but these attributes have become enchanting. They signify impending discoveries.

Jenna disrobes down to her bra, panties and black, worn combat boots studying herself in the mirror, though it never does any good. She cannot see what kind of girl she is, and the girl in the mirror never tells her anything useful. With arms up high, the dress comes down over her head, sliding easily and perfectly into place over her breasts. The fabric releases from her hands and swishes to the dirty carpet below, swallowing her boots.

Her hands smooth out the wrinkles, running over hips and breasts and thighs. The dress is immaculate and fits her without question like a second skin. The African charm fastened around her neck as a choker gives the look statement, her clean-shaven skull with swaths of paprika hair, adds just the right amount of color. Jenna studies her image and feels complete.

She removes the garment, carefully folds it, checks the price tag several times to be assured it is affixed. Items without price tags cannot be sold until re-priced, and they almost always are more expensive once desired. Her clothes are replaced like old friends, and she sweeps back the curtain of the dressing room with flourish holding her head high like a movie star, an heiress, an artist, a musician, a woman bent in more ways than one.

Jenna lays the dress upon the counter as if handling a newborn or a fragile artifact. The check out girl roughly unfolds it, shakes it out, inspects it and looks at her sideways, screwing up her face. She’s got to be crazy to wear a dress like this.

“That’ll be $1.99 plus tax.”

Author bio:

Aleathia was born in the 70's to set of wanderlust parents. She has an odd sense of humor and likes to be observant. Writing started as a portal to another dimension when she was 10 years old....she is still floating in space. Her work has been published in Zygote in My Coffee, Laura Hird, The Cerebral Catalyst, Haggard & Halloo, Juice, Outsider Writers, Word Riot, Silenced Press, and Flutter. She has upcoming work in Rural Messengers Press, Cherry Bleeds, Poet Plant Press, and Mystery Island. A collection of her work can be visualized at My Abdication.

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