Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bathtub Red

I am back in deadline city, with a major gridlock in all main synaptic junctions, [read - slow brain, slow words] so in the spirit of all that was and may have been, I give you an oldie. This from over a decade ago. I welcome your critiques, as I no longer have any particular sensitivities around these random little bits of fluff that I collected under the vague title of Red Dress Stories / Diaries / Chronicles what have you. After a while it became somewhat tiresome and I strayed from the theme, but still, fun to dig out old bits of juvenilia and read them with curious detachment.

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Bathtub Red


Look, I don't often wear red, but when I do I know there's going to be trouble. Like now. Like the size of the hangover I am waking up with.

When I force my eyes open, I can only wonder. Where I am. What I am wearing and how I got here. The flaming hug of scarlet satin that engulfs my tender and thirsty body is completely unfamiliar to me, and as for my location, well. I am in a bathtub, in a garden, underneath a jacaranda tree which is scattering a generous harvest of purple onto my breast.

And there's a face, above me. Looming in and out of focus. Not an unattractive face, I am pleased to note, through the scream and the rage of my hangover head. He is smiling, and scattering petals onto my stomach.

I smile back weakly and try to rub my eyes. I can't. Try again, suddenly aware of this tight and bruisy feeling around my left wrist. Eyes down and I realise all at once that I am handcuffed to this grinning dark-eyed man. Two silver hoops of metal join us, wrist to wrist, and the glint of the morning sun hurts my eyes.

"LOUI-EEEEESE" I cry out in relief, as the owner of the bathtub and the garden appears.
"What happened?" I say, quite pathetic.
"Nice dress" she says, eyes flickering. And like a treacherous undertow, the memory of last night begins to take hold.

I was visiting Louise, on my way to the boss's birthday party. It was one of those days when everything you wear makes you feel like mashed bananas. I was waiting for her to come out the shower. Her wardrobe door was open, a throat-prickling scent emerging from it. I began to page through her clothes, absent-minded, waiting.

Other women's wardrobes. That urgent feeling that you are violating some terrible code of privacy. The sensuality of someone else's perfume; the cool rub of unfamiliar fabrics, they all combine in a narcissistic throb of forbidden pleasure.

One dress in particular seemed to gleam in the patchouli scented dark of Louise's wardrobe. Without really knowing what I was doing, I slipped it off the hanger and over my head. Stepping into the light, I see that the dress I am wearing has the gloss of newly spilled blood. It is redder than Snow White's apple.

"Louise." I yelled to her while she was still in the shower. "I've just remembered something urgent. Must dash. See you later|" I turned and ran as fast as I could, out of her house, to the boss's party, leaving a flaming wake behind me.

In the swirling, strobe-lit vortex of the next twelve hours I am aware that the dress I am wearing has a deep and potent mystery. I have heard women speak of garments such as these: a dress or a pair of shoes that has the power to transform, to awake the slumbering carnivore, to draw out an ancient wolf-like craziness that you never knew you had. I am both predator and irresistible prey.

I remember leaning over the railing, my grip growing weaker and weaker. Below me the dizzy spin of city lights pattern themselves into heartbeats. Its a long way to fall but I feel sure it will be more like soaring than falling. The lights are foaming down there, like the trickle of bubbles in a champagne glass.

Voices behind me blur and hum in this moment of ecstasy between me and the growling city. But then a quick hard tug on my arm, I'm being pulled back, just at the moment that I might have been airborne.

Pulled back. I sink deep into this eternal pair of arms, this all-engulfing man-scent. Eyes that swallow me whole. The same eyes that are devouring me now, as I lie in the bathtub, awash with last night's madness. What do I remember him saying?
"I can't wait to get you out of that dress"
And we danced, and the strobe lights sliced up the night into bite sized slivers.
"I won't let you out of my sight." I accepted the handcuff around my wrist the way other women accept diamond rings.

But now Louise is staring at me, her eyes hard. My throat is dry, devoid of explanation. Her eyebrow arches like a cats back and she turns away and walks back into her house. I focus all my attention onto this stranger I have found. In my mind's eye his tongue traces thin languorous trails over my expectant flesh.
"Can it happen now?" he asks, his mouth quivering with promise.”You promised.”

"Can what happen?" is my coy reply.
"Please please please? Can I wear your dress?"

6 comments:

fush and chips said...

Your imagery is fantastic.

“It is redder than Snow White's apple”
“Her eyebrow arches like a cats back”

Where DO you get these? I want.

tam said...

But Fush, you have! You're a dab hand at images yourself, dear. Well, they come easy I guess but I'd trade a few for a better knack at the stuff that matters, like, oh I dunno, structure, plot, character...
Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Say nice things any time.

Chimera said...

Oh so sexy and sumptious and funny and crazy! For real with the handcuffs? Its wierrd, i read you stuff almost with nostalgia for MYSELF although I never even dreamed the red dresses in your marvellous life! Its because your writing is so warm!
T xx

tam said...

Haha, Chimera you are also very kind. Its kind of a conflation of events, with a twist. Not actually for real.

Val said...

Tam - may you always have a red dress somewhere in your wardrobe!
xx
word veri: oveerboy and unpar

Janelle said...

hah. made a comment on your last post..just in case you don;t check...you are so so clever darling. xxx j