April 5, 2016

Fiction by Diane Stallings: "Used, Glad to Be"

Diane Stallings' urge to write began as soon as she learned to read.  Published in a few magazines decades ago, she also has a story in the first Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul.  A Holistic Nurse, Healer, and health nut, she keeps a blog at joystreamhealth.wordpress.com

Vintage Dress

Used, Glad to Be

    I was the dress ignored at the back of the closet.  She would hardly ever so much as look at me.  It went on for years.  I wanted to be more, but She wouldn’t participate.  She wouldn’t bring me out.  She didn’t really love me.  That’s what I always want the most, to be loved.
    Oh, She liked me, I suppose.  My exquisite fabric.  Memories of mother wearing me.  I guess She thought I would come in handy for her someday.  There might be an occasion to wear me.  But then, with her personality, her taste in apparel and her social circles, believe me, we were going nowhere.
    So there I stayed, in the dark dusty recesses of that eternal closet.  Lots of us useless items vegetated in that place.  Wasting away miserably.  Feeling useless. Burdened by each other’s loneliness.  Dragging on with such ennui, we could hardly stand it.  
    Sometimes we practically slipped into a coma.  I call that a blessing, to go unconscious.  But sometimes, honestly, it felt like a prison.  The air didn’t even move at the back of our closet, I’m telling you.  Some of us got chewed up by moths.  Thank Goodness I had my sheath of plastic wrap to protect me from the dingy dust.
    Now, the vigorous wardrobe saw a lot of action.  They swung out and swung in more times than I could possibly count.  They had a life.  They enjoyed real episodes, drama, the workplace, restaurants, the odd drip of gravy.  She would spend time to scrub out their stains.  She loved them so.  Over the years their fabric wore thin.  Yet She still put them on her body, loved the way they looked and felt on her.
    I suppose, once in a super moon or so, She glanced at me with a tiny glimmer of love.  Like, twice, in a decade or two?  I assume She honestly thought She might wear me one day.  But that day never came.  I mean, never.
    I got to feeling desperate for action.  Agonizing my way through the long sleep.  I began wishing the moths would break in and eat up every inch of me, just so I could move on.
    One day it happened.  She touched me, lifted me.  She checked my label, my size, and shook her head.  She folded me into a paper grocery bag with some of my fellow prisoners.  Free at last?  We were carried and jostled, and sometimes we just sat.  Days passed.
    We emerged in a place that looked like a warehouse.  A couple of men in neon green vests sorted us out to various shelves and racks.  In that giant room a thousand cast-off  heartbeats simmered with hope.
    Within a couple of days we were carried, a few at a time, into the adjoining shop, a climate controlled pastel space.
    I lucked out.  I dangled upon a fine circular rack of beautiful attire labeled Higher Quality.  Of course I was that.  I’d always been.  But one has to be received, yes?  Or it means nothing.
    So there I hung, appreciating the sunlit windows and the airiness of the place.  Interesting people came by.  Hard to tell if they noticed me or not.  Didn’t matter.  Already this was better than the closet.  The clerks joked around.  Life stirred each day.
    Then to my utter surprise, Her fingers reached out and caressed my sleeves.  Her admiration flowed from murmurings down in Her throat.  Her hand stroked the length of me.  Before I knew it, I was with Her in the battered dressing room.   Her body filled me.  She marveled at me in the mirror, and she loved me!  She really did!  She wanted to take me to the 1940s Gala this month.  I would be perfect, she said.  I had the shoulder pads for it!  I had the style!  I had luscious fabric they didn’t make anymore!  And oh, my color was to die for!
    On Her skin I felt so beloved, so treasured!  Such a sensation I had not enjoyed for eons.  I came to life again under Her hands.  Upon Her heart.
    Yes, indeed, we threads want to keep moving just like anybody else.  We may seem inert, but we do have awareness, however small it may be.  We want to be useful.  We’re here to live, to play our part!
    The Gala unfurls next week, and I cannot contain my joy.  I can’t wait to dance all night!  In the back of my seams I’m singing jazzy tunes.  I feel so alive!
    Only one shadow touches me from time to time.  Back in the dim old closet, She still imprisons a box of things on that upper shelf.  I used to hang right underneath them.  I don’t know who they are, trapped in that box, but I felt them whimpering.  Who knows when She will have the sense to free them.
~Diane Stallings

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