Mirror Mirror by Laurie Michaels-Lee

Mirror Mirror  by Laurie Michaels-Lee

She wanted summer to arrive but couldn’t bear the thought of swimsuit shopping.

As always, this was a torturous, evil ritual that occurred just about the same time every year. The rag industry called this season, “Cruise”, the time of year after winter and before spring. This was also the time of year when ennui has peaked in most sun-loving humans who find them selves circumstantially living in the Pacific Northwest. Celia, being a secular Catholic, couldn’t help wondering if Lent coincided with the Cruise Season on purpose. Fasting 40 days and nights might be the ticket before vacationing half naked on some lido deck.

Celia walked in from the cold, gray drizzle thinking how absurd it felt to be in a brightly lit shop with such vibrant colored garments hanging on display. In the shop window, a mannequin was sporting a papaya colored swimsuit bejeweled at the neckline, a jute handbag adorned with hot pink straw flowers, lime colored sandals completed the look. Celia thought of fruit salad.  Another mannequin was in a black see-thru caftan wearing a large floppy hat, sunglasses and gold sliders. Have mercy, here we go thought Celia, an afternoon of reckoning.

Celia thought this yearly ritual an ordeal to be experienced by her and the poor clerk unlucky enough to be tending the shop simply known as “ResortWear”.

“Do you need any help today”? Said the cheery size 0 sales clerk dressed in a pink zip-up velour hoodie with matching pants.

Celia thought the girl looked like a packet of ‘Sweet and Low’.

“Oh give me a minute,” said Celia as she tried to get accustomed to the bright lighting. She felt sorry for the poor girl knowing her demeanor would be altered after she was through ransacking and eroding her shop and cheery mood.

“Oh sure, that’s fine. If you need help, my name’s Liz” said the young woman.

“Thank you”, Celia absently fingered an aqua “Miracle suit” that boasted “Secret Tummy Control”. Hmm, my tummy definitely needs controlling.

“I can absolutely use a miracle, I’ll try this one” Celia held out the suit for Liz “And these,” holding out 3 more suits from the “Miracle” display. “Might as well try these Spanxsuits as well”.

“Let me get a room started for you” as Liz whisked the suits into the dressing room,

Liz’s inner groan was a familiar one. Her first client of the day was going to try on everything in the shop and nothing is going to make her look like her imagined self.

Liz arranged her hair in a 10 second knotted twist that she had perfected. This had been a habitual response to anxious situations for as long as she could remember.

Celia sifted thru the rest of the suits and was making her way toward a display of leopard prints. Without looking up; “do these come with cover-ups?”

“Yes I’ve got a sarong and a tunic with the same print” answered Liz.

Celia looked up and noticed “Sweet and Low” entering her browsing space. She had forgotten the clerk’s name but notice that her hair was now a bun atop her head resembling a vanilla ice cream cone.

Celia caught a side view of the clerk and realized she wasn’t as young as she had initially thought. She’s got to be 33-38 Celia thought and in her opinion, a woman’s best age.

Liz felt the woman looking her over as she busied herself spacing the suit hangers two inches apart on the display racks. She faced Celia head on and said, “You can wear any color, what’s your favorite”?

“Well, I love the blues and greens, so beachy!  “Isn’t coral the new color this season?”

But, actually I do think this situation is better for me”, Celia held up a black halter suit with rusching on one side.

Thank God, Liz thought. This was her cue. “Yes, absolutely, so elegant”, said Liz, reaching for the suit. “Let’s give it a try”. She ushered Celia into the fitting room.

Liz knew the sooner the woman started to try on, the sooner she could pull the appropriate suits. Suits for the “curvy” woman.

Celia got undressed and noticed how nicely her fake tan was coming along. What a difference 24 hours can make. Brown fat looks so much better than white fat.

She struggled into the jungle print first. Beads of sweat formed on her temples. Why is it so bloody hot in here? Stretching the suit over her stomach Celia thought, this thing feels like a girdle. One more heave-ho and the other strap snapped over her shoulder. Miracle suit my ass…Omagod my ass as she viewed the rear mirror. What the hell…

“Excuse me, Miss. Can I move to another fitting room? There’s something wrong with the mirrors in here”.

Liz had checked those fitting rooms herself and knew there was nothing wrong with the mirrors.

“Of course, let’s put you right here” Liz said as she gathered the suits from the “flawed mirror room” and moved them and Celia to the next room.

Celia tried the next miracle.

Hello? I think there’s something wrong with the lighting in this room?”

Liz, “What? Is there a bulb out? Do you…

Celia, “The lighting’s awfully harsh in here.”

Liz,  “ Well, we do have full spectrum lighting in all of our fitting rooms to simulate the outdoor    light. You’ll get a much better idea of how colors look in actual sunlight.”

“Maybe I need another size, I think this one is cut small,” said Celia.

“Yes, you’re right, let me get you another size. I’m finding this particular suit runs very small.” Liz lied. She came back with an armload of suits in the correct size.

The more suits Celia tried the more Liz lied. “That’s very flattering on you”.

“That’s timeless, you can’t go wrong with a classic like that”.

And on it went. Every possibility was considered.

Exhausted, Celia left the shop eyeing the black caftan in the window. Knowing she still had another week before her cruise, she would diet and return to try on suits next week.

Outside, the gray drizzle had turned to a steady rain and the wind had picked up. She would stop at the Dahlia Lounge on her way home and have lunch and maybe a bite-sized coconut cream pie for dessert.


About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on March 13, 2012, in Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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