This story will be podcasted in episode 27 (with three other stories) on Sunday 16th June.
The Little Black Dress
It had once been the star of Laila’s wardrobe: spaghetti straps on black taffeta that narrowed to the waist, hugged the hips and flared out, stopping just short of the knees. Beautiful in its simplicity.
Her LBD, her sister had called it. Once in another life Laila had worn it. Now it was just a reminder of all that was lost to her. A reminder that once men had slanted a glance her way, and then checked back for another look. She had been warmed by the shine of their eyes, felt the expectation of company, seen the purpose in their quick steps across the wood of a thousand floors – the parade of hope. At the end of it she could be haughty or gracious – she was more usually gracious. She loved men.
Loved the feel of their rough stubbled cheeks, loved their man scents, their bigness, their comforting arms, the close warm feel of the dance.
These days, they didn’t look her way at all. Perhaps she was invisible. Perhaps some dark angel had slipped into her room in the night and stolen her soul – perhaps she had traded it for eternal beauty. She had tried to trade it, certainly. She had tried all manner of time-defying tricks, diet after diet, even surgery, as she had felt the agonising decay of lost youth, the age spots of time.
She had tried to control her body in a thousand different ways and now, in her mid-thirties, all she had achieved was invisibility. Or worse, pity. She was still in control though – she would fight to the end on her white-pillowed last resting place, clenching herself shut against their poison. Sometimes the doctors smiled – sometimes they snapped with crocodile jaws, “Oh for goodness sake, Laila, why?”
Sometimes they tried sympathy, “Please, Laila, try for me. Just one more try…”
She knew their tricks, knew they were trying to make her visible again – turn her back into the fat hulking whale of a child she’d once been, harpooned by playground bullies. It had been when the puppy fat had melted from breasts, hips and thighs that she had been at her most beautiful. When she had worn her little black dress.
And now, in the cinnamon dusk of ICU, she looked down at the bed – saw barely an outline beneath the thin rough sheets that hurt wherever they touched. Barely a breath rose into the dry air, only the machines breathed now: pump-pumping away, as they fed her by stealth. Even though, she knew – they must all know – it was way too late for redemption.
Never again would she wear that little black dress – nor would it overwhelm her with its shroud-like weight. But in death she finally obtained the body she’d been striving for – the ethereal grace that once men’s eyes had hungered after. She slipped from the confining pressure of her skin and out into the endless night, once more, a whisper of nothing amidst a million stars.
I asked Della what prompted this piece and she said…
I was very close to someone once who suffered from anorexia and her story touched me so much, I knew I would write about it one day. She did eventually recover, thank God, but for a while we thought she might not.
Issues like anorexia have always fascinated me.
My latest novel, Ice and a Slice, is about alcoholism which is also an issue close to my heart as many of my family suffer from it.
Thank you, Della.
Della Galton is a novelist, short story writer, and journalist; she is also the agony aunt for Writers’ Forum and has been writing and getting published for over twenty-five years. When she is not writing she enjoys walking her dogs in the beautiful Dorset countryside where she lives. Her hobby is repairing old cottages, which is lucky as hers is falling down.
You can find out more about Della via:
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or up to 5,000 words for critique on my Online Short Story Writing Group (links below).
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.