12 Days of Fiction, Day 1: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Welcome to the inaugural post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series.  For simplicity’s sake, I prayed that I’d get the first day.  Random.org strangely obliged.  I’m not sure whether I should say, “Thanks, God!” or, “Erm… thanks, God.”

If you’d like to join in, we still have 7 days unclaimed.  Comment on this post or on the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, and I’ll comment back with your day and writing prompt.

And now, here’s my contribution.  My prompt is, “The First Day of Christmas:  A Partridge in a Pear Tree.”

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“Pear-shaped,” the saleslady lamented, giving my figure the once-over.  The already bright lights of the bridal salon were made even brighter by the surrounding cloud of white, sequined dresses on the lines of mannequins flanking us.

“Yeah, pear-shaped,” my best friend Jenny nodded next to me.  “Hey, at least she’s not an apple, right?”

Jenny waved her hands to indicate her own ample bosom, which hip-ridden, flat-chested me had always envied.

The saleslady–excuse me, “occasion consultant,” as her nametag read–shifted her eyes back to my pear shape and nodded decisively.  “At least you’re slim everywhere else, honey.  Don’t worry.  At this salon, we can find something for even the worst of figure flaws.”

She gestured for us to follow her to the back, where a few dresses had already been placed out for my perusal at this appointment.  Elspbeth, our “occasion consultant,” unzipped one translucent garment bag and held aloft its contents, the train draping over her arm in a glistening swath.

Jenny winced.  “What do you think?  Too many sequins?”

Elspeth presented another and then another.  Nothing spoke to me, the bride-to-be.  When Elspeth sighed and said she had another client coming in a few minutes, that we might need to make a second appointment, I nodded and looked away.  Why was I feeling like I was the one disappointing her, when it was my wedding?

The phone rang, and it was for our occasion consultant.  While she returned to the front to answer, and while Jenny answered a text of her own from some other best friend, I wandered back to the front of the shop to give those mannequins a closer look.  There was one with a high neck, silk chiffon, beading cascading down from the hips.

Perfect, I thought.

At last Elspeth returned to me with an old-fashioned pen-and-paper appointment book in hand.

“I’d like to try this one,” I said.

There was that wrinkled, disapproving moue again.  “Honey, that’s more for our hourglass brides.  That much detail right at the hip will draw the eye exactly where you don’t want–”

“I’d like to try this one,” I said, “or I’ll be taking my business to Combe Bridal.”

Elspeth sure could tighten her mouth.  With disapproval still in her eye, she nodded and I followed her into the back.  Now Jenny was on the actual phone part of her phone.  I could tell, the way she was yelling, it was probably her mother.

Elspeth found the try-on gown for the dress.  It did not zip.  Not even close.  But as I stepped onto the short, round pedestal that took its place in front of the triple mirror, my breath caught.

Jenny stopped her conversation.  “That–that doesn’t look right on you.”

Elspeth was giving me an I-told-you-so look.

I looked back in the mirror.  My hips were obvious, but so was my face.  How could there be so many shades of white in the world?  How could this particular shade manage to make my eyes look wide, my cheeks have just the right amount of flush to them, and my lips look so ready to receive that first kiss?

I shook my head.  “No.  It doesn’t look right.”

Elspeth reached for the garment bag to put the offending dress away.

“It’s not right,” I said.  “It’s perfect.”

I wrote down the designer and name of the dress.  Then I drove off to Combe Bridal.

Without Jenny.

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