Friday 12 October 2012

'Fashion Victim' by Susan Howe

She spots them from across the road and they hold her gaze while she winds between the cars. Standing in front of the shop window, she can barely breathe as she touches the glass.
     She steps inside and an assistant glides towards her.
     She points, her mouth dry. “Those.”
     “They’re fives, Madam.”
     She sinks into a velvet chair with the sense of being on the brink of something unique.
     With exaggerated reverence, the assistant lifts the shoes from their Perspex tree and hands them over. Their beauty brings tears to her eyes as she runs a fingernail down the spiked heel, strokes the scales and the smooth, red sole.
     “Sensational, aren’t they?” the assistant says. “Handstitched python. Each pair as individual as the animal itself.”
      A faint gasp escapes her lips as she notes the price, but she kicks off her own shoes and forgets she ever liked them.
The assistant kneels to guide her feet into softly upholstered interiors that feel welcoming and alive. A thrill shivers up her spine as she hands over her credit card. Already inseparable from her purchase, she wears them out of the shop, carrying her old shoes in a chic paper bag.
She has a powerful urge to go dancing and calls her friends. They meet in the bar, where she sits on a high stool with her legs crossed, inviting attention.
“Oooh,” one of them says. “New shoes. Can I try them on?”
She looks down, hesitates, then smiles and shakes her head.  “Maybe later. Let’s dance.”
And how she dances! The crowd becomes an audience as she shimmies across the floor, her feet weaving intricate patterns with confidence and grace. She is the last to leave, exhausted but exhilarated beyond anything she has ever known.
She collapses into bed fully clothed. The shoes resist her half-hearted attempt to remove them and she falls asleep feeling desired.
Held in a crushing embrace, she dreams of being tasted and consumed. Her thighs tremble beneath the touch of an unseen lover and sweat trickles between her breasts as she writhes and twists in ecstasy.
She wakes, fighting for air, sweltering darkness all around, cocooned in padded walls, she can’t move anything except her toes and wavelike motions squeeze the breath from her lungs as she slides towards oblivion.
Snapshots of her life flicker past with stark and unforgiving clarity and, for the first time, doubt pricks her conscience. Summoning the last of her strength, she prays for redemption. 
An image emerges from the blackness; a few words on a chic paper carrier. This bag is biodegradable.
Guilt assuaged, she leaves her careless life, and the objects of her desire slide back to their tree to await the next consumer. It won't be long before hunger strikes again.

1 comment:

  1. Some good imagery Susan. I particularly liked 'she kicks off her own shoes and forgets she ever liked them.'


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