The Red Dress

She scooted herself up, sliding gently across the lycra kitchen counter, her back leaning against the cupboard as her head arched forward slightly to avoid decapitation by wood.

Her bright red dress slipped with the shift and dared to reveal more than she intended. She tugged at the fabric and held it at bay while she crossed her legs. Her matching red stilettos clicked together and lightly against the wood-grain cabinets beneath the counter as her countenance gathered.

An apple sat next to her, a stark green contrast to her red dress and shoes. She picked it up with her right hand, careful not to stab the apple with her manicured and equally red fingernails. She toyed with the apple for a moment, feeling its weight and flipping it from side to side to inspect for any potential rotten spots.

To her satisfaction, she found none.

She considered taking a huge bite out of the apple, a refreshing, tv-worthy bite full of crunch and juice dribbling down her chin. She weighed the option: enjoyment vs. time vs. hassle. The bite lost. Instead, she placed her right forefinger’s nail against the surface of the apple and slowly turned it with her left.

Coiled slices of apple sprang free from the apple’s surface into the air. She broke off the green and white branch and popped it into her mouth. She was very careful to avoid marring her red passion lipstick.

While she chewed, she glanced around the dark kitchen. Only a soft light over the stove lit the large room. She watched the shadow from the hallway door try to gain province over the kitchen, but the meek light held it at bay. She thought the shadow seemed thicker than normal.

The apple was sweet and tart. She loved Granny Smiths. She faintly licked her lips before slicing off another coil.

She flexed her legs into the air in order to admire her shoes. She had bought them the night before at a department store she was rather fond of in town. She ignored how they felt, the constriction on her feet, and her heart fluttered every time she noticed the intricate strapping that ran from body of the shoe and curved down to the spiked heal.

A splash of apple landed on her chest right above the breast-line of her dress. She wiped it clean with a middle finger, careful not to retouch any other part of her outfit until her finger dried. She softly shook her blonde hair, carefully curled so it rest properly on her shoulders. She enjoyed the feeling of the curls brushing her exposed shoulders and back.

Diamond earrings tugged at her ear lobes. It was a pleasant sensation. She wished she could feel the cold silver backings against her ear.

She had spent hours getting ready, carefully selecting the dress, the shoes, nail polish and lipstick. She had taken an extra long shower to make sure her hair was conditioned and her skin glowed. She’d  even slipped the dress on slowly, savoring every last-minute of the feeling of transformation. As she stepped through a mist of her favorite perfume, she felt alive and new.

And so she sat there, eating her apple and enjoying her emergence from the cocoon. She looked at the clock, and it echoed 7:15 back to her. She was all dressed up with nowhere to go.

A noise from behind the shadows broke the silence, like a tendril breaking through the protective aura of the stove light. A footstep.

She didn’t move from her perch, she just waited and watched a figure break the shadowy seal.

His small frame barely impacted the thick hallway darkness. She half expected it to swirl or stir as he moved. He looked up at her with a perplexed expression. His blonde hair clung flat to his head, and he had sleep in his eyes. He looked at her for a minute, processing the image like a computer scanning for a file of recognition.

She flexed her smile, flashing a daring and brilliant image of white teeth.

His face relaxed. “Mom,” he said before a pause of a few seconds. “Mom, will you make me a grilled cheese?”

She allowed her flash of a smile to work its way back onto her face. “Of course I will,” she said in Mom-voice. “Will you grab the butter and cheese from the refrigerator?” she asked softly.

He opened the large refrigerator door, disappearing behind it. She slipped off the counter and set her half-eaten apple on the counter top. She bent down and pulled open the cabinet door below her. A few moments later, buttered bread and cheese were bubbling in the frying pan.

“Mom?” he asked, watching the sandwich intently from beside her. “Why were you sitting in the dark?”

“I wasn’t in the dark,” she replied. I was sitting in the light.”

He thought about her response for a moment and mentally and physically dismissed the answer. “Why are you all dressed up? Are you going to go to a party?” He unintentionally over-emphasized the “tee”.

She stopped poking and prodding the grilled cheese for a moment to make eye contact. She smiled again for him. “I’m just reminding myself. I’m reminding myself that I can feel special without needing a place to go.”

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