Pre-Loved by Alexandria Crooks
The plastic jacket I wear is heavy with dust. My straps are on their final threads, clinging to my body as someone dangling from the edge of a cliff would cling with their finger nails; it would take but a nudge for them to release their grip and for me to fall in a heap on the floor of the wardrobe. My zip remains half shut, unable to move for the rust and for the part of my body that has been caught in its teeth for so long; an endless pinch in my back. I want to bask in the light that teases me through the crack in the wardrobe door. I miss being left with the lingering scent of the previous night’s perfume. I long to hear the whoosh of my skirt as someone twists and turns in me.
I met Marcy in a worker’s cottage that had been fashioned into a shop. The shop sold clothes, furniture and books that had been given away by their previous owners. I was not hanging with the other clothes; I had been thrown over the back of a chair in the kitchenware room, in need of repair after my previous owner had split the stitches under my arms. Marcy picked me up and held me out in front of her. She tilted her head to one side and smiled.
“Is this one for sale?”
An old lady sitting on the floor unpacking cups from a box looked up at Marcy.
“Hmm? Oh, hang on.”
The old lady grunted as she went from sitting to kneeling to standing. She shuffled over to me and Marcy, adjusting her glasses. She leaned towards me with squinted eyes.
“Well, if you don’t mind that it needs some work, you can have it for five dollars.”
“I’ll take it. Thank you.”
Marcy draped me over her arm and carried me home. On our first night together, she sat with a blanket over her lap and mended the stitches under my arms. Before bed, she hung me on a padded coat hanger with sachets of lavender sewn inside. She didn’t put me in the wardrobe with the others but instead hooked the hanger over the curtain rod in her room. That night, I was able to take in the view while I hoped she would choose me the following morning.
I’d never fit anyone quite as well as I fit Marcy.
It was a special occasion tonight. I knew it was going to be because Marcy matched me with her best shoes, jewellery and purse. As she sat in front of her mirror blotting her lipstick onto a tissue, there was a knock at the door. She took a deep breath before we went to the door. A man stood before us with a bouquet of bright, yellow flowers.
“Hello, Marcy. I’m a little early, I know.
“That’s fine, I’m just about ready.”
“These are for you.” The man extended his arm that held the flowers.
“Thank you, Grady. They’re lovely.” We leaned towards the man and I was drawn closer to his handsome grey suit. Marcy planted a soft kiss on the man’s cheek.
“You look beautiful, Marcy.”
Marcy smiled. She brought the bouquet to her nose and hid her face in the flowers. Her skin felt hot. “Come in, won’t you? I just need to get my purse and we can get going.”
Marcy squealed with excitement as we pulled up outside of a restaurant called Jeffrey’s.
“This is the best restaurant in the city!”
“Is it? I hadn’t heard.” Grady winked at us and Marcy linked her arm with his. After dinner, Grady took Marcy’s hand and lead us to the dance floor. I loved to hear the whoosh of my skirt as he twisted and turned us around. At the end of the night, Marcy planted another soft kiss on Grady’s cheek.
“See you tomorrow.”
I watched from the curtain rod as Marcy went to sleep with a smile on her face.
We went to Jeffrey’s again tonight.
“Six months ago today. Can you believe it?”
Before dinner, Grady put a small box in front of Marcy on the table. Instead of opening it, Marcy stared at the box. She put her hands on her chest and breathed heavily. Grady got out of his chair and knelt beside us. Marcy watched as he picked up the box, opened it and pulled from it a beautiful ring. Marcy’s hands flew to her cheeks.
Marcy nodded, her hands still planted on her face. Grady drew her left arm to him and slipped the ring on one of her fingers. He hugged us when Marcy began to cry. At the end of the night, Marcy invited Grady inside.
The next morning, Grady stood on me. Marcy had let me slip to the floor, and left me there as she and Grady dived into her bed giggling the night before. When I heard her stir in bed, I waited to be reunited with my hanger. As she went to walk away after hanging me on my rod, her new ring snagged on my skirt and a stitch pulled.
“Ah!” Marcy surveyed the damage and made a tisk noise with her tongue and her teeth.
That night I waited for her to take me down, drape me over her lap and mend me. Instead, when she arrived home I watched as she climbed into bed, Grady following
Today I watched as Marcy and two of her friends sat on her bed and opened a large box. From it, Marcy pulled out a flowing, white dress. They all screamed as she tried it on and Marcy looked at it the same way she looked at me the day she found me. Later, when her friends had left, Marcy lifted me from my rod and took me off my hanger. She laid me out on the bed and I watched in horror as she took the white dress, looped its straps over my hanger and hung it from my curtain rod. From the wardrobe, she pulled out a wire hanger. The weight of my skirt tugged on my straps as she let me drop on the hard wire. She pulled a piece of plastic over my body and I struggled to breathe. The last thing I saw as the door closed was the flowing white dress dancing in the wind.
Grady opened the wardrobe door and began taking clothes out. He was wearing the same handsome suit he wore the night we met. The white dress was gone and the room was bare. He took the other dresses out, one by one. As he got closer, I thought I could smell her perfume again. When he finally reached me, he grabbed at my hanger and stared. Something caught in his throat and he closed his eyes. He let go my hanger and closed the door. I hung in the darkest corner, alone.
I count the passing days by the light that comes and goes through the crack in the wardrobe door. Every time the light reappears I hope the day has arrived when the door will open again, but I remain hanging in my dark corner.
The plastic jacket I wear is heavy with dust. My straps are on their final threads, clinging to my body as someone dangling from the edge of a cliff would cling with their finger nails; it would take but a nudge for them to release their grip and for I to fall in a heap on the floor of the wardrobe. My zip remains half shut, unable to move for the rust and for the part of my body that has been caught in its teeth for so long; an endless pinch in my back. I want to bask in the light that teases me through the crack in the wardrobe door. I miss being left with the lingering scent of the previous night’s perfume. I long to hear the whoosh of my skirt as someone twists and turns in me.
But what’s this? The wardrobe door creaks as it is opened. The dust from my jacket dances in the beams of light pouring through the window. She pulls my hanger from the rod and removes my jacket. She gasps as her eyes fall upon my threadbare straps and immediately takes the weight of my skirt on her arm. With her support, my straps are able to lift themselves from the edge of the cliff.
“Ma! Look at this dress!”
She lays me on a bed. Her touch is as delicate as Marcy’s was. A woman joins the girl in the room.
“Oh, look at that. It’s beautiful. ”
The woman runs her fingers over my straps. She gently turns me over and I feel her fingers again as they brush over my zip.
“It needs to be repaired. The straps need restitching, and it wants a new zip. It looks about your size though.”
“Can we take it to Grandma’s? She’ll be able to fix it. That’s the dress. That’s my party dress.”
I’d never fit anyone quite as well as I fit Marcy; then I met Eve. She stands in front of the mirror and fiddles with the small cluster of mock orange blossoms that now adorns one of my straps. She runs her hands over me before her arms fall to her sides. She begins to swivel her hips and I hear it. Whoosh.