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The Women’s Department
by Tracey Kallab
The escalator trundles up to the second floor, moving me forward against every wish in my body. As if in commiseration, a low moaning of mechanical effort radiates through the steel step and into my feet. At the top, I step off into the women’s department and then I can’t walk any further. Sadness cements my feet to the floor even as the masses behind me grumble and shove. “Get out of the way, would ya?”
I mull over my tragic mission, the reason I have to shop today and stumble forward.
I have been in this store, on this floor, at least a thousand times. Every occasion that brought me here gave me enjoyment, the thrill of trying on new styles, new colors and a sense of expanding my horizons.
But today, I hardly recognize anything about my favorite place. Somehow it has turned on me. The smartly dressed mannequins wearing the latest trends stand like hostile sentinels on either side of the entrance. You have NO CHOICE. Go find something to wear to--. I don’t want to. Please, anything but this.
My body moves forward, fighting upstream in a river of pain. The brightly colored fabrics and energetic prints point at me with gleeful contempt. The racks do not seduce me with their wealth of flashy apparel. No. They have transformed into a dark, lonely forest. One I have been sentenced to wander through as I try to figure out who I am now and how my life has changed. How obscene that something that used to give me such pleasure and a sense of escape now slaps me with cold reality.
The money I spend today will not earn me a prize to take home and show off. No. This time I will bring home a sorrowful costume declaring my heartrending new status. How can I pick something to wear when I can hardly comprehend what my world has become?
My hands reach for something black, but I long to wear blue, like I’d dressed him on the day he was born.
About the author: Tracey Kallab is an emerging author who seeks to create relatable characters, that are capable of forging intimate connections with readers, regardless of the genre. With a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and a background in family therapy, she utilizes her experiences to bring true human experiences into sometimes far-fetched situations. Her debut publication is a short story titled “You Can’t Take It With You”, published in the fall 2022 edition of 96th of October. Her other projects include historical fiction, fantasy novels and long-form poetry.