Things of Women
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Occupation"
Originally featured on 02-24-2010
As part of our series "The Things We Change When We Want To Make That Big Change"

That bright blue scarf. It was almost cornflower blue and looked bold and confident. The middle aged woman I sit beside in biology class had it. It was one of those ones that feel soft and feminine and cost about forty dollars because maybe it has some cashmere in it. Whenever she wore it, I thought that I should get one. She wore the scarf over good, conservative clothes in neutral tones, probably to add a pop of color to her face, while maintaining sophistication. I wanted that scarf. So one day I asked her if I could have it. It weirded her out.

She looked at my face, giggled a little and I saw a lot of her teeth. There was a longish pause. She said, “Oh, you wanted to know where I got it? It was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.” I corrected her and said, “No, I want it.” Then, being the good Christian woman that she is, she started to slowly take it off her neck and then she handed it to me. “Of course you can have it,” she said. I immediately tied it around my own neck, and it smelled of middle aged flowery perfume, but I tried not to notice. She smiled, her sacrifice and humility still fresh. I said thanks and went back to my notes.

The people at the next table were watching a little. Their conversations continued, but maybe slowed a bit, because they knew both of us and it was weird to see people switching clothes during class. Their eyes went to the scarf on my neck, and I gave a big smile with lots of lips and teeth.

With the lovely scarf still fresh on my neck, I went with friends to a restaurant and I saw the boots my friend was wearing. Grey and knee high. The kind you wear with leggings or skinny jeans. The kind that are sexiness, in a casual, girl next door kind of way. I asked my friend if I could have her boots. She laughed at first, that smile again and said, “Of course you can’t have my boots, you creeper!”, then a nervous giggle, but I knew I could get them. I asked again. Told her that I loved them and had been looking for some like that for a whole year now, that I needed them to wear to a concert with a new guy on Friday, and she said I could borrow them.

“I need them now.” I said. It weirded her out, that seriousness in my voice, and she reached for the zipper on the inside of her knee. Revealed the white athletic socks she had hidden beneath the boots, and said something to try to smooth things, to fix this weird situation in front of the group. She said, “I’m just going home anyway, and if it is that important to you, it’s fine, I can live without my boots.”

That night I sat by my new things and touched their fabric. These were sexy, pretty things that other people had found and gathered. If I wore them, they were safer than new things. They didn’t have the danger of being wrong because I’d already seen them be magic in real life. They already had been chosen and they worked. They were things that were owned and wanted, and I could wear them for a while, maybe every day. Wear them until they fade, because I slowly do that to things.

Read More By Alice Clark

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Portland Fiction Project

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