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Lakewood Times

“Taunting Turnout”

Fashion Story

I understood the importance of the dress given to me. It was passed down on my mother’s side — reserved for the first daughter of every family to mark her “womanhood.” They knew I had hated this idea for the past three summers. “Excited when you were a wee lass, were ‘ou not?” My father would say. Yes, as a lass! Not now! In fact, my most recent dispute with my family has been over this wretched thing. Womanhood will do nothing for me! Fated to clean and cook, to have a baby in a barn, and be resigned to being an accessory of a man. Why couldn’t I be a soldier, or a farmer, or anything but a woman?

 Looking in the mirror at myself, staring back. I looked ridiculous. Maybe it was my own emotional outbreak that made me look amess: the tears that poured down my face had left streaks against the powdered blush, my true hue that lay under almost brighter than it. A bird would find refuge in my hair if it saw it. Oh, but this damn dress looked so good. Perfect, even. Just not on the right body. By the dead, do I hate it!

My mid was strung taut, forcing his back to arch like the camber of a bow. I could feel the pressure against my ribs, at my chest, everything made to push up and close; it was made to suffocate me, a punishment for thinking this was anything less of my fate. It knew better than I, it had more purpose than I ever could have, doing what it was supposed to do. 

How pathetic.  My agony is caused by a piece of fabric with a few pretty stitches, and everyone who wanted me in it.

I blamed that little girl who was once so young and stupid, who would have smiled wide and congratulated me on fulfilling ‘our dream’ that was never truly mine yet always hers. She was long gone now, her grave dug with my own hands until my fingers were red and raw yet I did not once get her dirty as I placed her in it. Her only crime was simply being what she was —  a little girl —  and I knew that she had not done anything wrong. I hated her and wanted to protect her all the same; a martyr of my innocence.

 Then I thought the fault would belong to my mother. Then her mother, and hers, and every generation that preceded mine that wore this stupid thing. Then it went past the topic of the dress until I landed myself at Eve. And then God. I was scared at the last thought, my breath stilling for a second as I realized. I almost condemned myself — how dare I? Yet the real question was how dare he! Because he knew this would happen, and he did nothing but answer the prayers of everyone but little Isla, little Isla who begged to be Callum like her brother or a Murdoch, as ugly as it was, like her father.

Again, the dress laughs. Boisterous, sniving. I was tired of it. I snatched each button off the back, getting more frustrated at each struggle to pop them off. It’s torn off, layer by layer, even my undergarments going off with it. Then the makeup, I rub it off without a care about what smudged and what came off. My hands a boring blotches of pinks and red and blacks.

By the time I look back in the mirror, I am staring at myself in the nude. I look farcical, so farcical that I’m sure even the madmen and the jesters would feel like I am too much even for them. I can barely take myself in. My bosom sags like my grandmother’s and my hips feel too wide on such a petite body. My face is tired and the ruins of makeup made it hardly any better. I felt a tightening in my throat and a shake in my hands. This was the first time I had saw myself like this in months, maybe years. I would avoid looking at myself after the bath or while getting dressed for this very reason: it made me physically ill to. 

So I don’t look anymore. My gaze is averted down to where the dress lay, crumpled and under the many over garments that were shed. It still laughed, though now more of a soft chuckle, as if to say “I won.”

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