SHORT STORY

Unraveled

As featured in ArtAscent “Black” Issue (june 2018)

 
 

He kept staring at it, but it would not speak to him. What would it take?

He cocked his head and began to massage his temples.

A cigarette! He eagerly reached into his shirt pocket. Shit! Fresh out after that seamstress bled him dry during lunch.

Surely there is something here that can drum up a little creative exchange, he thought. His eyes surveyed the cavernous atelier. By now everyone had gone home, to dogs starving for food and lovers hungry for sex. 

Lately, his only companion was the mannequin before him, mute and expressionless. 

"We're showing at the Louvre," he grumbled to his vacuous model.

His ready-to-wear presentation was imminent, bookended in the schedule by Chanel and Louis Vuitton. The expectations had already been set.

He sat down and rummaged through his workspace moving fabric swatches around until he found some pins. A sketch he'd drawn earlier caught his eye. 

“Here goes nothing,” he muttered. 

Picking up the deep onyx silk he'd twisted and tormented over all week, he danced around the form draping for an hour until it took on the shape of a billowing kimono. He pinned elaborately beaded appliques along the bust line and then stepped away. 

A quick glance down at his watch showed it was well past midnight. At least, that's what his bleary eyes told him. As he slouched down at his desk, his stool hissed under his weight. He swiveled around to examine the heaping mass of black fabric that enveloped the mannequin and retched. 

He leapt up from his stool, the hydraulics foisting him upon the dress form faster than he’d anticipated, and began clawing away at his latest creation. A beast destroying the beauty that hadn't fully bloomed. 

The black silk slipped easily through his hands until an area of the elaborate beading grazed his palm. He clenched it in his fist and growled. He dug deeper until the beads embedded themselves under his fingernails. As he continued his assault, pins darted from the fabric as he howled in agony. 

The mannequin wobbled and passionately toppled backward away from its tormentor. It landed in the chaos of black silk and crushed beads beneath it, decapitating its arm on the way down. 

The limb flew forward landing outstretched, palm up, at his feet. 

It was as if the mannequin was finally ready to talk, offering up its hand to suggest that the only way out of this misery was to fall down with it.