Id never had a little black dress. Nor even a big one. Shapeless
grey, that was me. But this, this was something different. It seemed
to beckon to me from the shop window as I walked down the High Street.
I stopped, and stood for a while, my gaze lost in the black silk.
The dress seemed to whisper to me, promising me everything I had
ever desired. The following week I heard the dress murmuring,
calling me softly as I turned into the High Street. It was still
in its place in the centre of the window. So beautiful it was, and
yet it had not been sold.
No. Im waiting for you.
I stepped inside the shop. I did not even get to try the dress on. The
assistant looked at me sneeringly. Up and down. As if I was a blot on
the landscape. A monstrous carbuncle. Which I was. How presumptious
of me for having a large body. A body which men like to touch and squeeze.
I want you to do something for me.
Please let me see it! I implored.
The assistant pursed her lips and brought it from the window. She held
it out for a moment and I caressed the silk. Waves of warm energy flowed
to me. Warm loving energy.
Would you like to have me? What will you do for me?
Anything, I said. Anything.
It was a size
10. Yes, I sighed, anything. I love you. I want you.
I went to the supermarket and filled my bag with carrots and lettuces
and low-fat yoghourts. I threw out all the foods that would prevent
me from having my hearts desire. Every week I went to the shop
on the High Street to visit the dress. And every week it was still there,
in the middle of the window.
Im waiting for you.
There came the day when the assistant looked me up and down and measured
me with her snooty eyes, and allowed me to take it to the cubicle and
hold it, while she stood guard by the door, her arms folded. The dress
shimmered and whispered close to me. It cleaved softly to my body, and
Soon Ill be yours. Very soon.
The hunger was difficult to bear, as I lay the night in my big black
wooden bed, hearing the mice pattering and the cat scratching and the
old house creaking, sensing the scowl of the big black spider in the
corner. But whenever I thought I could bear it no longer, the dress
stole into my mind and reminded me of my pledge.
Every week I went to the shop on the High Street and was allowed to
hold the dress. It seemed the thinner I got, the smaller the dress got.
It was a test of my devotion. One day, after many weeks, as I
held the dress hunger made me swoon, and for just an instant I hovered
out of time in a swirl of silk.
And one day, as I reached out to touch the dress, my fingers shimmered,
iridescent, merging with the silk.
And then came the day when I woke up in the morning, light as air. I
knew today was the day. I called the cat, but she didnt come.
I floated out of the house. The bus conductor didnt take my fare.
I glided into the shop. This time the assistant didnt stop me.
Didnt look me up and down. Didnt sneer. She looked straight
through me. I soared on a wave of light to the window and at long last
I closed my arms around my dress. And a puff and a swish and we were
Now I see you coming along the High Street, your shopping bag filled
with cakes and pastries.
Would you like to have me?
What will you do for me?
© Valerie Collins 1999
Black Dress was the winner of the 1999 Autumn Competition at the Jacqui
Bennet Writers Bureau and was featured in the winter issue 2000 of the
Rose & Thorn Literary Ezine.
Collins is a British writer and former translator who has lived
in Barcelona, Spain, for many years. She is a contributor to the
Insight Guide to Barcelona and the author of several prize-winning
short stories published in World Wide Writers and the Rose &Thorn
Literary Ezine. She has written for a variety of magazines including
The Reporter: The Spanish Connection, Flying Colours, The Broadsheet,
Verbatim, Kafeniocom and The Rotarian. She is co-owner and co-editor
of the Worlds Apart Review www.worldsapartreview.com
a website for expatriate writers, and is now finishing her first
novel, set in a vibrant fictional city not unlike Barcelona.
More fiction in
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