Penelope is attacking her wardrobe. I can tell she has no further use for me by her expression of utter disgust.
All my life I’ve belonged to Penelope (at least five years). She wore me in the beginning. I am full bodied and calf length, made of indigo denim with buttons down the centre front. I came with a matching shirt, but when the fashion police turned cold on double denim, she began wearing the shirt with black skirts or pants, patterned ones, coloured ones, anything but me. She now favours shorter and longer lengths.
She drives down the highway to the local recycling shop and dumps me in a wire cage outside the front windows. Other people’s discards land on top of me. I’m not used to this. The future looks grim. Will I be ripped up for cleaning rags? Used by a mechanic to wipe greasy hands on?
Eventually a shop assistant collects the cage, takes it inside and tips out the contents. She grabs hold of me and shakes me with such force I fear my buttons will fly off and skittle across the floor. Her hands rove all over my fabric. Searching for flaws, is she? She won’t find any. Not on me. She clips me to a skirt hanger and hooks me on a rack with other cast offs, all shapes, sizes and colours.
Customers come and go, check items and pull faces. Just when I’m sick of being pushed aside, dropped, trodden on and have given up hope of ever seeing the sunshine again, a lady doubles back in my direction and puts on her glasses for a closer inspection.
Into the fitting room we go. She tries me on and checks me from different angles in the mirror: my north, south, east and west. Hands in my pockets, she studies the way I fall in folds from her waistline. It’s hard to believe, but the next thing I know, she’s at the counter with me and her purse is wide open.
Now I’m on the passenger seat of her Toyota. She’s driving down the highway. The radio’s on and she’s singing a jaunty song about happiness.
Her name is Mara. I heard her say it into her phone.
At her home, she puts me on a sewing table alongside pins, needles and scissors. She takes measurements and like a surgeon chops off a lengthy portion. OUCH!
The sewing machine whirrs, stitching my new hem in place.
At last, the operation is over.
Mara loves wearing the knee-length me. We go to her job at the library, to cinemas and theatres, museums, beaches, shops, cafes and parks. Life is so interesting. She’s unconventional and not at all afraid of double denim. She even made a scarf from the sliced off fabric and wears the accessory often, with great flair I might add.
This morning, Mara’s car is being serviced so she catches the bus to work. It fills fast with commuters. We have a window seat halfway down the aisle. Someone climbs aboard at the next stop and sits right beside Mara. You’ll never guess who. Yes, Penelope of all people. She takes a sneaky peek at me, but I doubt she would recognise me now. I have been worn and washed so often I have faded to a rather attractive pale blue, similar to chambray, which is right on trend and modelled on mannequins in shop windows all over the city.
Penelope glances my way several times. I bet she is wishing she had such a lovely skirt. That’s the trouble with people like Penelope. They don’t know what they’ve got till it’s gone.
Author Bio: Christine Tapper, born in the UK, has lived in Australia since the age of 10. She’s married with three adult children (and grandchildren). She writes fact, fiction and fairy tales; articles, stories and poems and has enjoyed success in writing competitions. Some of her stories have been broadcast on ABC radio. She’s been published by Oxford University Press. Her writings have appeared in Anthologies and online at Enchanted Conversation and http://www.Bedtime-Story