Part 1: The Unveiling
A swath of clothes fell over the edges of Stephanie’s unmade bed. Melanie tried to be sympathetic, but it was getting late and the others waited for them impatiently in the car double parked outside. Stephanie still stood in bra and pajama shorts in the middle of her walk-in closet. One arm wrapped around her waist as the other struck a perturbed pose with one finger across her upper lip while her eyes stared endlessly at the array of clothes. Melanie waited for the expected outburst.
“Uh! It’s no use, I can’t figure out what to wear!” Stephanie whined once more.
There it is, Melanie thought. She inhaled deeply before catching herself and holding back the heavy sigh that almost escaped her. It was a bad break-up. She’s just coping.
“I swear, there’s not a single thing in my closet! What am I going to do?”
This time Stephanie turned to her friend. Her look was serious, her frown comic. Melanie couldn’t hold back any longer. She laughed.
“Damn it, Melanie!” Stephanie responded.
“I’m sorry. I swear. It’s just the others are out there waiting and your still half naked. He might not even be there, tonight.” Melanie said.
“I know, but what if he is?”
Stephanie walked past and plopped down, sinking titanically into the pile of clothing. Her hands closed over her eyes and she was silent once again. Melanie cringed. Now she’d done it. Stephanie, always sensitive, required extra care, and she’d gone and made it worse by making light of her wardrobe. She knew better.
“Hey.” Melanie cooed.
Stephanie was unmoved.
“Hon, don’t worry about it. He’s an idiot for dumping you and he’ll find that out sooner or later, no matter what you wear.” Melanie reasoned.
The clothes surrounding Stephanie shifted, revealing her mopey face. Melanie continued.
“Seriously. I mean it. Now what about this top? It’s fun.” Melanie offered, with a bright red beaded top. Stephanie shook her head.
“It’s too flashy. It’s like I’m trying too hard.”
“Okay…how about this?” Melanie held up a plain black t-shirt with a deep v-neck.
Stephanie’s reaction was enough for her to know that a t-shirt wasn’t going to cut it. Digging around a bit more, she pulled out a pink top, and a blue one and a white. The pink was Mark’s favorite and Stephanie refused to wear it. The blue was boring. When Melanie held up the white top she regretted it.
“He said it made me look fat!” Stephanie moaned.
“How ‘bout this, I’ll text the others to meet us there. We can swing by my apartment and you can wear something of mine.” Melanie offered at last.
Stephanie cocked her head.
“Really? We won’t be too late?” She asked.
Melanie almost broke down again. Of course we’ll be late! she thought. We’d have been late if we left twenty minutes ago. But she contained herself.
“Oh, we’ll be late, but at least you’ll look stunning.” Then she threw a pair of jeans and sweatshirt at Stephanie’s face before texting the others.
Meet you there. Damage control.
John would be irritated, Melanie expected. They’d been together for only a few weeks, but she was head over heels for him and already he had definite opinions about her friends.
“You swear you don’t mind?” Stephanie asked, muffled by the sweatshirt not yet pulled over the top of her head.
“Not at all, sweetie,” Melanie replied. “Let’s get going. We’ve gotta hurry.”
Melanie’s phone vibrated in her hands.
Sorry. I know.
“Is everyone okay? I feel bad for having them wait so long for nothing.” Stephanie said, staring at Melanie’s fingers tapping along the top of the phone.
“Everything’s, cool,” Melanie said, “They just want to make sure we make it.”
They headed out with Stephanie driving. Only a few miles lay between their apartments. Sometimes they walked the distance. Melanie rushed up the stairs, trying to get Stephanie to respond with some sense of urgency, before jamming the key in the door and twisting it violently in the lock.
In her closet Melanie was sure there was something Stephanie could wear, if she could just get Stephanie to agree. Melanie dragged her hand past several shirts and dresses, riffled through the clothes in her dresser. Nothing seemed so stand out enough to sway Stephanie’s mood.
Suddenly a knock at the bedroom door alerted her that Stephanie finally caught up and was waiting for her. Melanie swung the door open to let her in, hoping it would help for Stephanie to look at the options herself.
“Well, I’m not really sure what you’re looking for…” Melanie trailed out.
“Can I?” Stephanie asked, pointing to the closet.
Melanie sat on the bed, waiting yet again for Stephanie holed up in the closet. God, not another hour of this! Melanie thought. Then as if her words were said aloud, Stephanie poked her head out from around the closet door with a curious expression.
“What about this?’ Stephanie asked, “I can wear it with the jeans and maybe…”
She turned back to the closet with her head turned upwards if praying to the heavens. It seemed she found what she was looking for.
“And I can maybe fit into these heels?” Stephanie’s hands held out a pair of cute chunky heels with a strappy ankle. But Melanie’s eyes were glued to the simple black top hanging from Stephanie’s arm. The top looked silky and new, yet she couldn’t remember ever having seen it before.
“Uh, well, I’m fine with the shoes. Why don’t you try them on?” Melanie offered, giving herself time to think.
Stephanie walked over the end of the bed and sat down to fasten the shoes, setting the top down beside her on the bed. Melanie reached out for the top to get a closer look. From back to front the fabric folded gently and elegantly from two delicate straps. Yet there was no tag or label.
“You’re alright with me borrowing the top then?” Stephanie wondered, seeing Melanie eye the black strappy shirt.
Melanie started as if a fly had buzzed in her ear, but she tried to smile.
“Oh, yeah, sure. Of course,” she agreed. The shirt’s unexpected appearance disturbed her, she couldn’t say why, exactly. But there it was in her closet, and she’d never seen it before. It bothered her. Still, she supposed there was no reason why Stephanie couldn’t wear it.
“Great!” Stephanie smiled before disappearing back into the closet to change.
A phone vibrated from the bed. Melanie picked it up. It was Stephanie’s phone, but she looked at the text anyways. Mark’s name in green titled an undisclosed message and Melanie tossed the phone back on the bed quickly before Stephanie caught her snooping.
“Time we get a move on, Steph,” Melanie called, getting impatient once more.
Stephanie stepped out a second later, looking more incredible than Melanie could ever remember. A bit of cleavage showed discretely under a cliff of sheer chiffon. And the pleats outlined her waist perfectly before descending at the perfect height over her hips. Everything about the top seemed to be made to suit Stephanie. Melanie’s mouth was hanging open with abandon.
“What do you think?” Stephanie asked.
“I think if you buy me a drink I might jump you!” Melanie exclaimed truthfully.
Stephanie glowed with confidence and turned this way and that for a moment in the mirror preening.
“Come on!” Melanie said, “We’ve got to go, like, thirty minutes ago.”
On the drive, Stephanie seemed enwrapped by her phone. Melanie wouldn’t usually have minded as it left her focus on driving, but it worried her. Was Stephanie texting Mark still? This backslide could take weeks, even months to resolve if Mark were yanking Stephanie around. And judging by the breakup, his intention would not be to get back together.
This overdue piece written in response to the music challenge set to my by Tebez of the Juanes song “Tengo la Camisa Negra”. Tune in shortly for the rest of the story. Enjoy the song and the story by Trebez, here.