Short Stories

The Room That Haunts Me

Shopping for new clothes is a fantastic thrill. I, like most girls love to shop, rapt with true appreciation and purpose for this season ‘must have’ look. It’s not the shopping that’s the problem, oh no, it’s the trying them on that brings me out in a cold sweat and the need to flee home and drown myself in anti-cellulite lotion, to pin down the boyfriend and demand - ‘Do I look fat?’

I walk in feeling happy and carefree ready to shimmer in my skin-tight hipsters, micro minis or for absolute bravado a sheer chiffon slip that would have SJP foaming at the mouth - but instead I emerge a total wreck. Whoever designed these changing rooms these chambers-of-horrors was of a bitter twisted mind and should be strung up by their designer clothes pegs. A room too small for the smallest of bottoms to manoeuvre in, the harsh brutal lighting does nothing for the self-esteem. The mirror is just a spiteful joke tormenting us with lumps, bumps and inches THAT WERE NEVER THERE BEFORE and when did winter trawl all over my face, I was only in St. Tropez last weekend! I did not ask to see the orange peel that has so lavishly spread itself over my bottom and thighs and since when did my tits sag. These rooms of dressing deception should come with a health warning, I refuse to eat for the next two hours and abolish lunch from the agenda, the only incentive left for the male species at eleven thirty on a Saturday morning, the boyfriend curses carefully under his breath.

I move to the next shop determined to find my ideal outfit, the one that waits for my plastic to release it from its designer rail-jail: the cut material that was destined to accentuate my beautiful silhouette. In my mind I know this one will be better. I tell myself this will be the find of the day, the last shop was a momentary lapse, the wrong choice for my body shape, Italian sizes are always too small anyway.

I spy the velvet curtain wafting at the back the only frontier left between my new attire and me. I walk in with my head held high and my bundle of joy: combination of skinny pants and furry Gilets hugged adoringly to my chest and a huge seraphic smile on my face. But my good mood vanishes as soon as I see that ALL the cubicles have been taken, which leaves only the communal changing room – the hell pit on earth! And why oh why do I end up standing next to a Kate Moss lookalike who insists on parading around in a minute G-string and tan? My armpits sweat my heart thumps and the veins in the back of my neck bulge like an overdosed body builder. I feel dizzy, I want to throw up and I’m on the verge of throwing myself on my sword when I realise not only are my armpits sweaty but I’ve forgotten to shave them and if that wasn’t enough I’m wearing my not-so-white-anymore bra and knickers. Even the lacy pink camisole and khaki combats that looked so perfect on the hanger cannot better my mood, for the rolls of fat convince me that I look more like the love-child of Lily Savage and Vanessa Feltz than a Girls Aloud. I swear Kate Moss lookalike stares in horror and I’m convinced I hear her snigger. Bruised and defeated I quickly change back into my clothes return the hateful garments and drag the whinging boyfriend to the next shop.

Oh yes, I insist the boyfriend share in my grief. If I must suffer then so shall he. That’s why I insist he follow me around EVERY shop, delighting in his twisted face of agony as I dart among the rails. LOVE seeing his lower lip droop and hearing his groans just audible over the pounding pop tunes. Knowing he’s having a worse time than me; wishing he were at home watching “the match”. I know it’s wrong, childish but it does help soothe the humiliation I endure at the hands of the shop changing room, which like the G-String is a pain in the arse.

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