Friday, December 01, 2000

"These ones, I was thinking of."

She holds a plate in front of him, heavy china, shiny under the store's halogen lights, cream with little rust flecks and a band of dark red around the outside.

"It looks fine," he says. It looks like dried blood, he thinks.

She looks at his face, wonders if the china is wrong, feels something stir inside, hears a dry breeze that's not there. She writes down the name of the china pattern in tight square letters in a little notebook, thin paper and brown leather binding. "Come look at some sheets they have."

He limps a little, glad to hang back a step, tasting the pain where he can imagine his bones grinding, watching her back, wondering if he will recognize her in two years, wondering when she started to dress like someone he didn't know.

The sheets are cotton, as fine and smooth as ice. The clerk - young, thin, tall, smooth-skinned - approves, pulls out cream and ivory and ecru, drapes them across the display bed where they shine expensively. He tries to imagine the sheets spread across their bed, but it feels like he's watching a movie.

Across the floor a woman steps from a dressing room. It is as large as a bedroom, a pair of jeans twisted on the floor, one black boot lying on its side. She wears a dark dress, lost between red and black, and stops in front of the mirror to study herself, pulling it down off her shoulders, then sudenly twirling, once, twice, three times, the dress spinning out and her legs flashing, one knee scraped and red. She laughs, starts to shrug off the dress before she is back in the dressing room.