Posts tagged as:

the red dress club

The Sign Revisited.

by Amber on July 29, 2011

Fighting to keep her writing steady despite the lurching of the bus, she carefully lettered her sign.

Then, gathering up her ratty backpack, she clutched the flimsy piece of paper to her chest and pulled the cord. The bus slowed and she stood, hunching over herself as she walked to the exit.

With a hiss, the door opened. As the shock of the icy morning air passed through her, she hesitated. Could she really do this?

In answer, a vision of her daughter sipping watered down chicken broth popped into her head.

She took a deep breath and stepped down and out. As the bus pulled away, she looked over at her chosen spot. Good. It was still unclaimed.

Shoulders sagging, she walked to the grassy median and thunked her backpack down in the frost. Then she turned to face the oncoming traffic and, sending up a silent apology to her younger, more hopeful self, held up her sign.

“Family in need,” it read. “Anything helps.”

But she wished it read, “I’m not a drug addict or alcoholic. Just a single mom who lost her job and can’t find another. I’ve already lost my car and soon I’m going to lose my home. I’m terrified that if anyone finds out, I’ll lose my daughter too. Please help.”

Fifteen minutes went by. Then thirty. Then forty five. No one stopped. No one made eye contact. Once, she saw a woman glance at her. Saw her face contort in sympathy. Saw her reaching for her purse. But then the light turned green, and the woman drove away.

As despair flooded her veins, she heard a tentative, “hey!”

The woman was back. Her hazard lights were flashing and she was getting out of her car.

Getting out of her car? Why would she do that?

“Hey,” the woman said again.

“H-Hi,” she answered.

The woman reached out and grabbed her hand, folding a wad of money into it.

“It isn’t much, but I want you to have it,” she said.

“Th-thank you. I…”

“No, don’t thank me. Just know…it can get better. It will get better.”

As the woman walked away, she counted the crumpled bills in her palm. All told, there was $123. And in the middle was a business card. “Haven’s Cross Women’s Center,” it read. “Counseling, Financial Assistance and Career Services.”

For the first time in what felt like years, she smiled.

This post was written for the Red Wrting Hood. This week’s prompt asked us to revisit an old story and revise it down to 400 words. I chopped 350 from this one. What  do you think?

{ 13 comments }

Wishful Shoeing.

by Amber on July 14, 2011

It was a cold, blustery day. The kind where sleet blankets your hair within seconds and turns into product-infused icicles that drip onto your your salt-spotted jacket when you go inside. The kind where your spirit shrivels up, too bereft of sunshine to properly fill your eyes.

My husband had ordered me out of the house, insisting I needed to take a little time for myself.

Lost without my endless To Do list and feeling unbalanced without a toddler on my hip, I blearily got into my car and headed to the mall—the only destination my sleep-starved mind could even think to go.

Shivering as my sneaker-clad foot slipped into yet another slushy puddle, I hurried toward the glowing Macy’s sign, halfheartedly hoping I’d find something that would remind me of spring.

I flitted from rack to rack—too tired of winter to even want to try on the itchy sweaters and woolen pants whose prices had been slashed with red pen.

I stopped for a moment in front of a glittery cocktail dress, its figure hugging sparkles catching my color-starved eye. But when I looked into the mirror behind it, I couldn’t convince the bedraggled woman who stared back at me that there was any point in trying it on.

Getting discouraged, I wandered over to the shoe section. I fondled the soft leather of black knee-high boots I knew would never fit my calves and tried to convince myself to buy a pair of the cheap yet cozy looking Ugg knockoffs that stood next to them.

But when I turned to find a sales person to get my size, I saw them. The Perfect Shoes.

Sassy white polka dots danced across a black background and sat atop a saucy red patent leather platform heel. The open toe beckoned, inviting me to slip a freshly manicured foot inside and skip away from the sullenness that blanketed my world.

I had to try them on.

The shoes of spring

"Come play with us," the shoes whispered.

As  I slipped them on to my feet, newly liberated from their wooly socks, a smile broke free.

When I stood and walked, my spine straightened, my shoulders went back, and my imagination ran wild.

I pictured myself wearing them with a flouncy black dress, red purse and a fire engine red lipstick to match. I imagined taking my husband’s hand and walking out of the warm summer sunshine into a dimly lit night club, where we’d sit on velvet couches and sip martinis. I pictured myself giving my body to the pulsing of the music and dance, dance, dancing the night away.

I had to have them.

When I returned home, it was with a triumphant smile and a shopping bag swishing sexily at my side. Once inside, I tore them out of their crinkly protective layer of tissue paper and pranced around the living room.

“This is what I’m going to wear on our next date!” I said.

My husband expressed the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, then passed our fussing toddler back to me. And I? Plunged back into reality.

My daughter once again balanced on my hip, I sat the shoes gently in a corner—one where I could see them.

“Next weekend,” I swore. “Next weekend I’ll take you out for a spin.”

That weekend passed. And the next, and the next, and the next.

We still haven’t been on that date. And those shoes? Have never been worn.

But still they beckon, sparkling at me from the unexpected places my daughter drags them.

Someday I’ll get my sexy back. Someday I’ll give those shoes their due.

But for now? I maneuver through my busy life wearing my practical, polka dot-free shoes.

{ 24 comments }