Saturday, 23 May 2009

Shop Girl in Sequins

I go upstairs and make two cups of tea.
I don’t know why I make two; I’m on my own today.
I chuck the milk carton in the bin outside and notice the man from the wig shop, looking cool in sunglasses.
I’ve never asked him to put my shutter up before. He seems the type who’d think it was beneath him. But when I do he’s very obliging.
“You need a strong man around,” he says, “ask me whenever you need help.”
What a find, I think, and go back to my teas.
The first is weak.
The second is cold.
Veronica comes in and I realise I’ve started something off. She now knows I’m capable of buying her jewellery.
“Mummy not here?”
“Not today.”
She looks slightly disappointed.
“What size are you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve got a dress here.”
I’m blinded as she pulls out this glittering blue number, covered top to bottom in sequins.
“Oh, wow,” I say, struggling for words. “I don’t think it’s Mum’s thing.”
“You try it.”
“I don’t think I’d wear it.”
“Just try it.”
“But really, I wouldn’t...”
“Let’s just see how it looks.”
It’ll only be a moment, I tell myself. Veronica won’t give up unless I do.
The dress is really heavy.
I step into it and pull it up over my jeans. It’s so tight I can hardly move my legs.
It’s like being stuck inside a tube of toothpaste.
“Oh yes, it looks gorgeous on you,” Veronica says.
A tube of toothpaste covered in sequins.
The phone rings and I suddenly realise I’m in my shop dressed up like a drag queen.
What was I thinking?
I pull down the straps as I pick up the phone.
“Is that accounts?” a woman asks.
“Uh ...accounts is... away.”
Veronica comes around the counter, right up to me.
“You need to try it on without your top,” she says, and then tries to lift my top off.
The dress is stuck around my hips.
“I see,” the woman says.
I wriggle and the dress slides down, pushing my knees together. I fall forward and catch myself on the counter still hanging onto the phone.
The dress drops around my ankles.
“Do we owe you something?”
“You could wear it to a nice party,” Veronica says.
I pull my top back down.
“Or a dinner.”
“Yes, I’m afraid so,” the woman says, and gives me the amount.
“Right, I’ll sort it out tomorrow.”
“Thank you.”
I hang up and hand the dress back.
“It’s not really my style.”
“It’s only 20 pounds, it was 150...” Veronica pushes.
I catch myself thinking about my friend’s hen party.
“No, really,” I say, gathering my wits. “It’s not me.”
“I know it’s a bit over the top,” she says, “but I think you and your Mum should be a bit a bit more over the top...”
“I have to say it,” she says. “I think you’re both too conservative.”
This is news.
Is that the impression I give?
She starts getting her bags of jewellery out.
And I don’t know how she does it.
But after she’s gone, I look at my reflection in the mirror and run my finger over the new necklace. It’s a blue heart pendent with a big bling diamante inside it. On a gold chain.
And I think, maybe if I look at it long enough, I’ll start to like it.

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