This was written for The Red Dress Club, a virtual writer's society I recently discovered, thanks to Twitter. This is my first submission!
What follows is a fictionalized account; elements of it have actually happened, some details have been embellished or added in the interest of storytelling.
Write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly – and find the beauty in it.
Word limit: 600 My count: 535
Ugh. Bathing suit shopping.I flip through the racks, searching for a one-piece that looks long enough to fit me (or potentially stretchy enough to cover my torso)
Clack, clack, clack. The snapping sound of the hangers gets faster and faster as my exasperation grows and my hope fades.
I flip to the final suit on the rack and sigh heavily. No luck. Again. Moving slowly to the two-piece suits across the aisle, I find a couple of options, including a halter-style top with a skirted bottom.
The dressing room practically mocks me from across the store.
I try on the suits, tossing the rejects into a pile, and examine the last option.
Pulling on the skirted bikini bottom, I feel that familiar pang of resignation. This is my body. Turning slowly in the mirror, I examine every inch of my abdomen, the parts of me that would be on public display, should I choose this suit.
The stretch marks first; striations that circle my hips and across my back, still as prominent and shiny as they were when they first appeared, more than ten years ago.
The other scars glow to my eyes; angry pink slash marks running in all directions. Two big ones, each more than five inches long, accompanied by a constellation of others; puncture marks and smaller incisions, some old and some new. They all seem to throb now, under my critical gaze.
My eyes land now on the one part I like; my tattoo. The bright green ribbon makes me smile inwardly, bringing back memories of our trip to Vegas, and five of my fifteen minutes of fame. I find myself shrugging at the image in the mirror – “This is it,” I think to myself.
The dressing room is busy for a weekday afternoon, and the only three-way mirror it outside the confines of my private little cubby. I can hear a group of girls outside; prom dress shopping is my guess, based on the reflected sparkles and rustling fabric I see and hear.
Whenever I encounter a group of teenaged girls, all of my 16-year old insecurities come rushing back. I realize that I'm practically invisible to them, just some random pushing-middle aged lady at the mall. But still, their presence gives me pause.
I take a deep breath and open the door, head held high, aiming for the mirrors, a trajectory that takes me right through this gathering of gorgeous high school girls. I wouldn't say they fell silent as a walk by, but my passing through their space is noticed.
I arrive at the three-way mirrors and do the over-shoulder butt check.
“Cool tattoo…” one of the girls is suddenly talking to me. “What's the green ribbon mean?” She looks genuinely interested, so I don't ignore her, which is my usual M.O.
“Hmm? Oh. Um, the green is for organ and tissue donation. And this,” I point to one of the largest scars, running alongside the tattoo. “Is from my kidney transplant.”
” Oh.” She takes it in for a moment, considering. “That's badass.”
Um. “Oh. Thanks.” Done checking myself in the mirror, I turn and head back to the dressing room.
Badass? I bought the bikini.