The parlor is pink, a loud, chemical, sickening pink. The air hasn’t moved in years, even though there’s a bronze colored fan in the corner. Elvis moans on the turquoise bakelite radio on her desk. The orange plastic on the window shields all her little princesses from the sun, and the rude stares of people on the sidewalk.
She’s been at this for many years, tending her princess garden. Every day she comes in, the jingle bells on the door so pretty and cheery for her. She can’t see the grime on the door handle, or the egg cases left by spiders in the corner of the jamb. She can’t see the cracking vinyl on the bell strap. She hasn’t sold a dress in a long time. There’s a mountain of mail in the box outside, the stuff on the bottom starting to get smelly with mildew and summer heat. “But it’s a lovely day, isn’t it, ladies?”
“’Some day, my prince will come….’ There will always be a prince, won’t there?” She fusses around the showroom, fiddling with each mannequin. They all have the same 60s cat’s eye makeup and red, red lipstick. Each has a fine felting of dust at the top of her French twist, perm, or flip, but she can’t see that. She’s several inches shorter than her princesses, and she has learned to ignore certain things over the years, anyway.
“Oh, maybe he’ll look like that handsome Elvis. Now there’s a man for you. There’s a man who’ll treat you right, isn’t he?” She fluttered from dummy to dummy, greeting each in turn. She worked her way to the back of the shop, and stopped at a black-haired figure, staring to the left, a slightly furtive air painted into her face. “Darla, your strap’s crooked again! You silly goose!” The mannequin listed in its stand, a fine lace of cobwebs joining her splayed fingers. Its dress was old, wilted with age, the ribbon rosettes sagging. The hem was pocked with bitemarks and stained with tiny turds from the mice that skittered around the shop at night. She fussed happily over the parts of the gown she could see and congratulated herself again on her exquisite taste. Then it happened.
“Excuse me? Is anyone here?” She froze. That was a male voice, a young one, deep and supple. This is no place for a man…what did he want?
“Excuse me? My car broke down, is anyone here? I need to call a tow. Anyone here?”
(c) Liz Reilly 2015