This was not the day she had imagined when her alarm clock went off this morning. Notorious for running late, she still took the time to straighten her hair and apply makeup. It was the first day of her senior year, and Clarice was ready to graduate and pursue her dream. She stood before the mirror, held her hairbrush, and allowed herself to dream of what it would be like to be a famous singer, even belting out a few notes to her reflection. She had only ever performed in front of her bathroom mirror and was terrified others wouldn’t like her voice. This week were auditions for the school musical but Clarice hadn’t signed up.
After school, she had rushed to Lara’s Dress Shop dreading the disappointed look she was sure to receive upon arriving late. Luckily, Lara had been preoccupied with a client. Clarice had taken the part-time seamstress job under Lara’s tutelage last year when her mother could no longer afford her voice lessons. Clarice dreamed of wearing the intricate gowns that Lara created. She would sneak off to the back room where dresses hung like works of art, their colors shimmering when the light hit them at just the right angle. Holding the fabric between her fingers, letting the silky material caress her hands she would immediately be transported to another time and place, one where she was the star of the show.
This afternoon, when Lara left for the fabric store, Clarice headed to her favorite place. She was desperate for a few minutes alone with the emerald green creation Lara had just completed. She was mesmerized by the sea of green from the moment Lara pulled out the bolt of fabric and draped it over the mannequin.
Now, Clarice stood before the long gown, taking it all in from the sweetheart neckline adorned with intricate beading to the way the hemline softly skimmed the floor. She was hesitant at first, knowing Lara would surely fire her if she knew she was handling the dresses, but she couldn’t stop herself. As her fingers felt the silky fabric, she inhaled deeply, tilted her head back and let a slow smile light up her face. In an instant, she was removing it from its padded hanger and slipping it over her own clothes. She quickly did a twirl in front of the big mirror and let out a little yelp of delight. She never wanted to take this dress off. In her mind, she was already a famous singer, performing before her adoring fans, working the stage and letting the green fabric flow behind her like a wave, undulating with her heartbeat and the beat of the hands coming together in applause. She lived for that moment even if these days were spent watching others leave the store with their beautiful dresses, off to live out their own dreams.
She was so lost in her reverie that she jumped when she heard the small bell above the front door. “I’ll be right out! Just grabbing those long safety pins you like to keep handy!” Clarice hurried over to the shelf to get the pins, but stumbled over a body and felt the dress catch. As she struggled to keep her balance, she heard the undeniable sound of fabric being torn. She cursed the delivery boy who had dropped off new mannequins earlier that morning, laying body parts in small heaps across the room. Lara was laser focused when it came to her work. She listened to stuffy opera music all day, driving Clarice to put her earbuds on at work. Lara was living her dream every day she entered this shop. She was living her dream with every dress she made and every satisfied client. She could not begin to comprehend Clarice’s dream.
Clarice tapped her long polished nails together the way she always did when she was deep in thought. She could sneak back in after hours and mend the dress herself, but the client was sure to notice even if Lara didn’t. As Clarice was mulling her options and removing the dress, she heard footsteps. Lara walked in as she was stepping out of the dress. Her shock was evident, but it was the disappointment that brought tears to Clarice’s eyes. “Lara, I am so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I see these beautiful masterpieces you create and am naive enough to believe I may one day own one too. I wanted to see what it would feel like. It’s silly of me to think I will ever be a famous singer or able to afford a gown as magnificent as this.”
Lara stared at Clarice for a moment before walking over to her and taking the dress. She inspected the tear and nodded. “This can be mended Clarice. I will teach you how, but I need you to fix something else first. You must change the way you dream, my girl. You must dream with all that you are. Do not wish on a star. Wish on all the stars in the skies so you may always have a glimmer of hope in the darkest of nights. When I was your age, I dreamed of being a famous Opera singer but when my father died I went to work in a fabric store to help support my family. I spent years creating dresses for singers who took the stage and sang the very songs I imagined myself singing. I was too afraid to go after my own dreams, choosing the safer route to provide for my family. Do not do as I did and spend years creating armor for someone else who has been brave enough to go after their own dream.”
That night, as Clarice completed her homework a single sheet fell from her book. She took a deep breath, smiled, and filled out the audition form. It was time to wish on a few stars.
This post was written as part of the YeahWrite Super Challenge Round Two. This round, writers were given a character and an event to work with – mine was a photo of a young girl (wasn’t sure I had rights to share it here so I shared on of my own) and the event, “stumbled upon a body.” Word limit was 1,000 and completed piece had to be submitted within 48 hours.