The White Dress

Prompt: <500 words, write from the perspective of an object in a secondhand shop

She hangs in the window, twisting gently in the breeze from the open door.

It’s a slow life, a thoughtful life, this. She has plenty of time for thinking. Too much time, some would say. She watches the busy street outside, details blurred through the streaks of dust on the glass. There are harried mothers pushing prams, and dragging squabbling children in their wake; focused businessmen and women, black trousers white shirts black jackets polished shoes on their way to places to be important meetings coffee breaks; slouching teenagers, eyes full of apathy and hearts full of dreams.

None of them look at the old white dress in the window.

They have their stories, she thinks one day, tuning out the whimpers of discarded kid’s clothing left in the changing rooms and the haughty “Excuse me? Excuse me!” of the more expensive items of jewellery: they have their stories, and so do I.

She gets looks of pity from the twenty-somethings and looks of fond nostalgia from the elderly. None of them think seriously about buying her. She’s too much like her previous owner: waist too skinny, bust too small, arms tattered. So faded and worn that she’s almost translucent in places. The looks of pity make her defensive; the nostalgia makes her remember.

On the whole, she prefers the pity.

She comes to dread the little old ladies with their walking sticks and frames, hair white and fluffy like a small dry cloud perched on the wrinkled skin of their skulls; white and fluffy like a newborn lamb.

(Newborn lambs aren’t white and fluffy, the faded farm shirt below her mutters caustically: they’re smooth and slimy and, quite often, dead.)

She dreads the moment their eyes land on her and soften with old love or fresh grief. Their right hands creep to their left, touching their ring fingers, and sometimes there’s a ring there (lovegrief) and sometimes there’s not (grieflove).

She hates them because they make her remember. She remembers the wedding (love), the golden decades (love), the husband (love) and kids (love) and grandkids (love). She remembers the slow decline (lovegrief), the muddled thinking (grief), the moment he found her (grief).

His face. His sobs. His screams.

He carried her gently, like a fragile thing, a newborn lamb.

She’s too much like her mistress.

She hangs in the window, twisting gently in the breeze from the open door.

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