Crushed Vel­vet

Pulp Literature - - THE 2017 BUMBLEBEE FLASH FICTION CONTEST - by In­grid Jen­drze­jew­ski In­grid Jen­drze­jew­ski grew up in Vin­cennes, In­di­ana, and stud­ied cre­ative writ­ing at the Univer­sity of Evansville then physics at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge. She now lives in the UK, where she is try­ing to get up the nerve to de­clu

When I get home, my skinny clothes are danc­ing. They are mak­ing a ter­rific racket.

“What do you think you’re do­ing?” I ask, and the an­swer comes back all chif­fon bub­bly from my first prom dress: “Cel­e­brat­ing!”

“Cel­e­brat­ing our free­dom!” adds a snarky vel­vet bustier from my goth phase.

I let its im­pu­dent tone slide by unchecked. I don’t like mess, but they all look so happy, I de­cide to join in. When I break into a jaunty jive, I am, for a mo­ment, trans­ported; it’s been a long time since I’ve let loose. But be­fore long, I come to the un­com­fort­able re­al­iza­tion that I am the only one still danc­ing. My work clothes are cling­ing to my body, star­tled and sus­pi­cious. I stop dead in my two-step.

“Yes, well,” ruf­fles the lace brassiere in which I lost my vir­gin­ity, “we’ll be off now. We were just wait­ing un­til you got home so that we could say good­bye.”

My cheeks flush, so I brush my hands briskly over my pantsuit to elim­i­nate creases. “What are you talk­ing about?”

“Oh, come on,” pipe the match­ing lace knick­ers. “It’s no fun be­ing cooped up in draw­ers and clos­ets for years on end. Even you go out once in a while!” “To work,” I re­tort, in­stantly re­al­iz­ing I’m not help­ing my cause. “Yes …” sneers the Liza Min­nelli bowler hat as it bobs know­ingly at the Rocky Horror hot pants.

The crop top is more for­giv­ing. “Re­ally, though,” it says gently. “You’re not go­ing to wear us again, are you now?”

My con­trol-top panty­hose snig­ger around my waist, tick­ling my stretch marks. I snap the waist­band. “I could. I might!”

“Oh, sweet­heart …” sigh the fish­nets, and all of us set­tle into a long si­lence.

My eyes sting and the cor­ners of my mouth trem­ble. But, like any good gen­eral, I rally. I scan the room, sur­vey my re­sources, size up my army. It is time, I de­cide, to heft my weight.

“Ladies!” I cry, and my cur­rent wardrobe — the cloth­ing I’ve trained up with a harsh reg­i­men of iron­ing and starch — un­fold to at­ten­tion. I look them over and nod. They aren’t pretty, but they can get the job done. “Get ’em!”

Be­fore my skinny clothes know what’s hap­pen­ing, my ac­tive­duty wardrobe is upon them. It is ut­ter car­nage: a ver­i­ta­ble mas­sacre of colour and flounce. Mu­umuus smother slim-fit jeans, elas­ti­cized waist­bands stran­gle string biki­nis. Pon­chos pull no punches. There is one last, des­per­ate rush of se­quins as a clutch of evening dresses makes a break for the door, but they

are cut off by a pha­lanx of gir­dles and re­in­forced bras. Within min­utes, the up­ris­ing is crushed like vel­vet.

When it’s over, I stand tri­umphant amidst the bon­ing and tulle. My work clothes cel­e­brate; the green beret flaps with pride. To­gether, we string the skinny clothes on hang­ers, cru­cify them with clothes pegs. When they’ve all been put back in place, I shut the closet doors and smile.

The crop top was right. I’m never go­ing to wear those things again. But old clothes hold onto mem­o­ries for­ever and know too many se­crets. No way am I go­ing to let them give me the slip — not, at least, while my over­all sat­is­fac­tion with things like life, work, and my­self re­mains hang­ing by a thread.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.