March 26, 2010
On his way out the door, Carl promised he’d be home early to open his one-day-late birthday present. Audrey smiled and said he’d be lucky if it was only one day. Now the morning was hers. Evan had gone to Seaside with Max to cram the final hours of spring break into a long weekend, even if the forecast was for rain with a chance of rain. And Joe, well, Joe had stayed up into the dark of morning. He wouldn’t surface until noon.
She sat on the living room floor with all her stuff—the working draft of the beast, research notes, a big white board with markers (for “barnstorming,” she called it), and, of course, coffee. She had on her black Oregon State sweats. All the makings of a great day.
• • • • •
“Sure, I’d love to,” Audrey said half an hour later. Why not; lunch with an old friend would make a great day even better. “No, don’t dress up, this is Portland. You can wear anything.” Anything except what was in Audrey’s closet.
Audrey’s closet stored doomsday essentials and accessories—scarves, sweaters, black pants and twelve pairs of jeans in various states of worn out. The newest ones had come from Eddie Bauer year before last, and had fit so well she’d bought a spare for emergencies, like today. Except today both pairs were dirty. Laundry? No time. Black pants? Uncomfortable. She’d have to wear her black shoes, which were even more uncomfortable. There was only one thing to do.
It should take no more than ten minutes to buy a new pair of jeans and be on her way. New jeans! This could put the icing on a great day. Audrey studied the shelves of denim, which went from the floor to higher than she could reach. A tall salesgirl approached and offered to help.
“It would help if you reversed it,” Audrey said. “Put the large sizes at the top and the small sizes at the bottom. I’m a six.” She met a polite shrug.
“You want to try the eight, too?” the clerk asked, reaching to the middle.
“No, no, sixes fit perfectly, and I’m in a hurry.”
“You want the relaxed fit?”
“You mean the ‘fuller in the hip and seat’ fit?”
Audrey tried on every size six jean, all of which were too something. She went to Macy’s and wriggled into many more unfit sixes. Fashion had changed without her, Audrey concluded. Then she saw a distressed pair of jeans on a mannequin with little rhinestone butterflies on the hems. This led her to the jewelry counter. She bought a sparkly pin and poked it through her three-year-old jeans. She was an hour late for lunch, which meant her friend was into her third margarita and making plans for the evening. Still, the day wasn’t a total loss; the shirt Audrey had found on sale for Carl fit him perfectly.
“It’s not your birthday present,” she said.
“I know,” he said.
©2010 Pam Wells