The Dress

A little black dress has dominated Kay’s life.

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Public Domain

She was looking forward to being back on her velvet coat hanger. It had been a busy day. As a little black dress, it was her job to make Kay look good on important occasions. Kay had had her for years and even though she could easily afford a replacement, she faithfully kept coming back to the original.

Today everyone else was wearing black too.

Not long now, she thought. Most of the other guests had left, mumbling muted goodbyes and sympathies on their way out. Pete, Giles’ best friend, was the last to leave. As always, he was most attentive, and she also loved the fact that he was a natty dresser. A designer item herself, she always noticed quality in others.

“Chin up, Kay. Remember I’m here. When Monique died I forced myself to do something fun every day. These days, I’m doing all kinds of things I never thought I’d be doing, so if you fancy a bit of skydiving, I’m your man.”

He winked to show he wasn’t completely serious. If ever a dress could give a disdainful sniff, she would have done. Sky-diving indeed! Referencing the opera, or even a nice dinner would have been far more appropriate. She wondered whether Kate realised that she’d been asked on a date at her husband’s funeral.

It was far too soon in any case and, for now, they both needed to rest. She, in her designated pride of place in the corner of the dressing room, and Kay herself in the sumptuous memory foam bed that Giles, once again riding roughshod over his wife of forty years had, last year, insisted was necessary. At sixty-five, Kay would have much preferred an electric blanket.

Usually at the end of an evening, she would spend some time in front of the mirror. Admiring her paper thinness, Kay would twirl this way and that to make sure none of her carefully coiffed, made-up personage had slipped in the course of the night. Only when Giles called through a ‘well done, darling’ was she finally able to relax. The Dress always dreaded the released tension of that one out breath which stretched her seams to their limits.

Tonight, though, there was none of that. In fact, Kay almost ripped her in her haste to get undressed. And this time, instead of blue eyes gazing reverentially at the vintage satin—there was barely a second glance.

“That’s that, then.” Kay’s soft determined voice reached into the corner where the Dress hung. “A bit of fun every day. I can do that, and I’m going to start with a different piece of cake for breakfast every morning. I don’t care whether I fit into you anymore.”

She shut the door.

As the weeks and months wore on, the Dress felt increasingly discombobulated. She had previously welcomed her place at the end of the row in the far corner of the dressing room. These days, though, being out of the way meant not being able to witness the comings and goings of the new styles her former devotee now seemed to favour. Even tracksuit bottoms now had a home in this increasingly cluttered space!

The Dress thought back longingly to the times when everything had been pristine and ordered. What’s more, her side of the room—with the expensive shoes, handbags, and designer suits—kept shrinking. The ultimate insult came when a pair of muddy wellies came close enough to brush her hem.

Giles hadn’t particularly liked the grandchildren, so Kay had only ever had them visit when he was at work. Similarly, the Dress shuddered as the house rang with childish laughter. The final horror came when six-year-old Ellie started playing hide and seek in the dressing room. Burying herself amongst the netting, she left a big sticky mark right in the middle of the sash.

One day the Dress felt the old excitement bubbling again. Kay looked as if she was coming across to her corner. Oh, to be worn again! She felt like singing. But there was not so much as a glance thrown in her direction. Instead eager hands searched out a flowery chiffon. Giles hadn’t liked that one. She remembered him shouting at Kay to go for the little black number instead. Now it was Kay’s voice that came floating through.

“Well, it’s time. I haven’t been out in ages, and Pete wants to take me to dinner. Giles is gone and I’m not, and I think I need to get rid of some of this.”

The outrage! The Dress found herself cast on to the floor along with the rest of her entourage.

“Ellie, darling, Granny’s having a clear out. Come and chose something to play with. The rest can go to the charity shop.”

Well, at least she had been kept… Although, as the Dress felt Ellie lose her balance and the oversize stiletto heel rip through the layered skirt, she thought to herself that she might have been better off being sent away after all.

Madeleine White was born in Germany, with roots in Canada and the UK.

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