by Catherine Conroy
The red dress fluttered around her knees. She’d been delighted when she’d bought it; a brave decision given her wardrobe of grays, blacks and browns. She hadn’t known if she would wear it but she loved the rush of color when she opened her bi-fold closet doors. It hung there in the middle like a beacon among the shadows of her suits with their rigid lines. She wore those to work, determined to thwart the advances from married men whose offices flanked hers. Oh, there were other women in the office, they flitted about in their soft pastels with flowing scarves, plunging necklines, peeking bras; none of that for her.
One day, she hailed a taxi. She was a bit late. She couldn’t wait for the train. In her rush she stumbled forward; her high heel clipped the curb. A stranger caught her. It was for him that she wore her red dress. He’d looked into her eyes and recognized the person she hid behind the aloof stance she maintained.
And they danced.
In the middle of the ballroom, in the flash of mirrored lights, she pirouetted on red heels under the stretch of his arm. The swirl of her dress clung to her curves, the curves she hidden under straight lines. Her heart beat, beat, beat, faster, faster, faster beneath her breastbone cage. She twirled. She tumbled. Silken folds enveloped her. She exhaled, content, in her perfect red dress.