By Britley Blessitt – Arts and Entertainment Editor
A clear reflection of the sunset made its way in the window of a small boutique. The usuals were out and about in their strict routine. The gold wooden clock against the corner of the wall read half-past four. Around this time of the year, the sun can be contradictory. A fashionable woman entered the boutique with a green wool coat and a signature beret. Other customers shopped around the boutique but none of them mattered.
The fashionable woman glanced out the window and slowly turned away. She walked to a rack of sweaters and began her hunt. A set of hurried gasped hushes’ filled the cozy little boutique. The fashionable woman took off the beret and placed it on the counter. She modeled her prey in a three-sided mirror. One little girl watched the fashionable woman try on clothes, puzzled, she rubbed her hands through her wavy black hair. The fashionable woman forced a smile through the mirror’s reflection at the little girl.
“She made a new record. I thought there would be a riot” one shopper said.
“You kept a record? Jesus. A riot? I doubt it. This is our xanadu. I don’t expect to see any tom foolery.”
“A record of scared children, of course. How could they unwind if she stared at or left the poor youth confused?”
“I gather you assumed her intention: purposeful.”
The shopper rolled her eyes and glanced at a rack of colorful scarves. “I did not assume, I simply stated the truth.”
“The truth is not simple. The truth can change anyone.”
“Do not make me sound bitter. My heart beats like anyone else in this shop.Yes, what she went through is awful but… don’t you love this place?”
“Yes, of course. Everything about it.”
The two shoppers glanced at the scarves and looked at each one thoroughly. Then the pair tried on each scarf that best suited their taste and giggled. After the shoppers modeled their batch, they sat on the purple chairs across the fitting rooms.
The little wavy-haired girl clutched her mother’s hand tighter as she passed the woman with the beret. Before they left the boutique, the little girl gave the woman a sympathetic crooked smile.
The woman with the beret forced herself away from the intimidating mirror. She reached the same section of scarves that draped in a synchronized elegant pattern. Her hands were hypnotized towards a green velour scarf. She wrapped the scarf around her neck and began to smile. The fashionable woman stood close to the stationary shoppers. To the left of the shoppers, there was a coat section divided into two halves: girls and women. The customers watched as the woman approached the girls’ coat section in a distinct trance. The fashionable woman saw an orange coat that had a pair of connecting hearts. The representation signified love and the mark of life. The immobile coat remained on the top shelf until reached with a retail hook pole. The cashier began to slump into a light sleep at the register.
Angry, the fashionable woman shook the shelves for the coat to fall in her arms. The tired cashier seemed immune to the commotion and released a low snore. The two shoppers heard the noise and looked at each other. One of the shoppers groaned, stood up and grabbed the pole from the register. Zaya watched as the pole hooked onto the coat’s collar and gave it to the woman. With a smile, the fashionable woman hugged the coat and rocked it across her chest. The shopper stared back as she resumed her seat next to the other shopper. Alzena sighed.
“I took care of her.”
Alzena stared harder at Zaya.
“You always hated any kind of noise,” Alzena explained.
“She got what she wanted.”
The two shoppers glanced over at the fashionable woman.
“No… I don’t think she ever will.” Alzena painfully looked down at her wedding band.
“I am sorry. Time went so fast, today officially made one year. You seem different today. Does it ever go away?” asked Zaya.
“The pain? Never. I don’t think her pain goes away either. This pain is eternal and there is nothing we could do about it.”
“Do you even know exactly what her pain is? Maybe she just needs someone. There are dating websites, ther-”
“ Even if she had someone, there would always be something missing. You always think you can solve anything instantly. How long ago was your abor-?”
“About a year ago. I haven’t looked back ever since and I am fine. My best friend is on birth control. Hmph, if you ask me, some women are never satisfied,” the shopper who had an abortion snapped.
“Oh please, we have seen that fashionable woman shop here consistently. She is the most satisfied, distraught woman I have ever seen. I heard her chemotherapy was steadily coming along. She was satisfied when you gave her that little coat.”
“Does she even have a family? She seems alright to me.”
“She is incomplete…she is empty.”
Zaya shrugged her shoulders. The tired cashier awoke carefully as the fashionable woman made a path to the register. She looked over at her items: the green, velour scarf, and children’s coat pleased with her hunt today. Her hands grazed across her smooth, bald head. The woman with the beret paid the cashier, glanced at the shoppers, put on her beret and left.
“Finally I can see all the customers again,” Zaya said.
“Sight is not everything. This space is important to that woman,” Alzena said.
“What do you mean?” Zaya asked.
“This boutique is warm, rare, and authentic. It helped ease her pain: the inability to conceive. I am a widow but I could never create my own family with my husband,” explained the shopper.
“There is IVF, adoption, plus there is a place called — mall.”
“You would never understand. I said “my own family.” You had your chance to experience motherhood. You decided that you’d be better off without that milestone. I wonder what he would be like. Would he be bitter like you or distant like his father?”
It was half-past eight and the stars looked like tango dancers across the night sky. The shopper who had an abortion rosed from the chair and exited the boutique. The infertile widowed shopper departed from the shop and aimlessly walked north.
An alluring three story building with signs that read “Cedar Crest Mall” stood in front of her. There were impatient, unruly customers all around but it did not matter. Alzena dragged herself into a children’s store and frowned once again.