More Than a Ball Gown


I miss the time when shops were careful and proud of their appearance. A time when the girls were wearing beautiful ball gowns and they would have felt ashamed to put on just a bra, pants, and a handful of sequins. Shops’ window dressing and my grandma’s stories were part of my happy world. By now the shops turned their back on us, exposing ripped-off old posters or dull plywood sheets. I miss the time when the shops were writing their own stories.

It was close to the winter; mom took me with her to shop for new clothes for me and my brother. We kept growing, ignoring any pattern. Sometimes those extra centimeters came in years of moaning, sometimes a few months were enough to make them scream for new shoes.

My brother would have disappeared in seconds, following a dog, a butterfly, another boy. Not me, I was stuck to my mom even when she was immersing herself in other people’s gossip. In the first window, a lady was trying to open her umbrella. The wind had ravished golden and red-trimmed leaves all over the alley, one ended up on the lady’s collar, as snobbish as any brooch would have been. From the next window, some carol singers were keeping an eye on her whereabouts. A few of them could have used a handkerchief. I looked for mine and before mom would have acknowledged that I lost it, I accepted a tea invitation from some very beautiful, blonde, long-haired princesses. I was forced to apologize and decline when mom, remembering that the time has wings, dragged me through all the children’s departments, apart from the toys one; that one would have kept his secrets for another few weeks.

Going back home, we would have encountered my brother and his pal John near the house, pretending to repair something on their scooters. My father would have watched over all of us from the lounge window.

-What did mom buy me? My brother would have whispered in my ear, eying the shopping bags.

-Pyjamas and sweaters. And a new winter coat. Mr. Bear sent his regards; he has three grandchildren to look after and will not come to dinner anytime soon. The lady with the umbrella speaks French, I hardly understood what she was saying but … I learned a new carol for Christmas!

John’s eyes would have already been wide open, same as his mouth. Then he would have asked my brother:

-Is she magic?

My brother would have started rolling his eyes, would have knocked him on one of his shoulders to get on the scooters, daring him to a race. But after a blink of an eye, he would have turned his head screaming to the world:

-I believe she is!

The sky would have laughed to tears.