The Red Dress Club

Posted on | February 18, 2011 | 13 Comments

This week’s prompt: Write a piece – 600 word limit – about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it’s so meaningful to you or your character.

“Is this drawer yours or hers?” I asked slowly.  Even speaking seemed to feel wrong in the grief laden room.

“Hers.” She gestured slowly and then stood from her perch on the bed. “I have to get out of here.” She looked at me pleadingly and I nodded.

“Go. I’ll finish.”

It was easy to pretend I was okay, so much easier than I thought it would be.  Taped boxes were placed around the room, haphazardly labeled with vague details like “closet” and “breakable.” We didn’t even know what to call most of her things.  Somehow, Katie and I had made our way through almost everything in the room, wrapping the breakables in newsprint torn from a week’s worth of The Daily Tar Heel and shielding them with carefully folded clothes.  This was the last drawer. The last tie we had to her.

After Katie left, I didn’t have to pretend anymore. There was no one to put on a show for, no one to be strong for. There was only me and the memory of her.  But still, the tears wouldn’t come. When the drawer was empty, I sighed. I stood and went to slide the drawer back in it’s place, but it wouldn’t budge. I assumed it had been pulled off the track so I lay on the ground, cheek flat on the cool concrete floor. The drawer was in place but something was there. Something was shoved in the crease of light between floor and wood.

I reached in, the tips of my fingers grazing against something soft, something cotton, something almost forgotten. It took my arm up to my shoulder blade to get a handle on the cloth but finally it came loose in my hand, tearing slightly on a loose splinter of wood.

Inexplicably, it smelled of her perfume.  The sweet, flowery powder that followed her around like a cloud of happy just waiting to explode. I lay my head on the cool of the cloth and let the memories flood in.  We were seventeen, then eighteen together.  We were smiling… God, we were always smiling. Or dancing. Or laughing.  The shirt was still creased from wear, almost as though she’d discarded it the day before. But that couldn’t be right. She’d been gone for more than two weeks.
I could have lie there for days, drowning in the memories of her face and her laugh. But slowly, I raised my head and started to fold the shirt and place it in the last box.  Then something caught my eye.  Just a spot.  Just one, dirty, spot on the right sleeve… just below the shoulder.  I knew that spot. I knew that shirt.

She had worn it to the basketball game.  We had sat there, drinking our smuggled in liquor out of empty soda bottles, and cheered as though the team depended on us for victory.  We had laughed so much that she’d ended up spitting the concoction of Jack and coke all over the back of the student in front of us and when he turned to yell she was so apologetic and so adorably her, that he ended up buying her another soda.  We’d won the game and on the way home she’d tripped and fell in the dirt alongside the road.

She had screamed so loud, I thought she was broken. But then, she was laughing; she was always laughing.

I ran my finger around the looping spot, letting the scent of her roll over and around me like a wave of sadness. And finally?

The tears came.

She was gone.


13 Responses to “The Red Dress Club”

  1. Elaine
    February 18th, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    It’s amazing how many memories are tied to scents. I could feel the loss in your words. Beautifully written.

  2. HonestConvoGal
    February 18th, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

    From one lawyer to another–one who even reads the Daily Tarheel–I don’t feel like I have words sufficient to comment on this. You rendered grief not just palpable, but I could smell it with you. The loss you felt is now sitting in my no-longer-billing throat. This is horribly lovely. Well done. Awesome even. I shall follow you now.
    –Amy (in raleigh). BTW, I have a nonfiction blog too where I never write about law.

  3. Mrs. Jen B
    February 18th, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    Whoa. I want to know more about her, about your relationship with her, and about why she’s gone now.

    THAT is the sign of a truly well-crafted story. What a terrific job.

    “…a cloud of happy just waiting to explode”. Great line.

  4. kir
    February 18th, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

    So full of emotion and so real ..I could smell her perfume..hear her giggle..I really enjoyed reading this.

  5. Crayon Wrangler
    February 18th, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

    WOW. Now THIS…THIS RIGHT HERE is writing. I struggle to even find the adequate words to put in this little box. There isn’t a word for this, what I feel. It’s more I just need to hug you, laugh with you and cry with you.
    Well done, friend.

  6. Cheryl @ Mommypants
    February 18th, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, the way you shared her with us. What a loss, an indescribable loss, and yet you managed to put it into words. Hugs to you.

  7. CDG
    February 19th, 2011 @ 12:51 am

    The scents trapped in our clothing are such an instant transplant in time and space, aren’t they. Floral, powdery, or a specific cologne..

    The grief here is palpable.

  8. Andrea
    February 19th, 2011 @ 1:24 am

    This was so touching. I want to know more about her, her friend, why she is gone. Were they sisters? Something else?

    How much more can you share and not tarnish the memory? I think there is more and I hope that we get to read it.

    I felt like I was in that room with them. With her. Missing her.

  9. Cortney
    February 19th, 2011 @ 1:36 am

    Whoa! Totally pulled me in from the get-go. Well done! First time commenter… I plan on visiting again.

    Thank you!

  10. Leighann
    February 19th, 2011 @ 2:29 am

    Your writing always takes my breath away. I felt the cool concrete and saw the love two friends share.
    Great job.

  11. Jennifer
    February 19th, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

    I wished that I could have willed her to back to that basketball game just so she could have seen her (friend/relative/lover?) one last time.

  12. Mad Woman behind the Blog
    February 20th, 2011 @ 2:17 am

    “like a cloud of happy.” What a simple and delightful description. You balanced the fun and loving friendship with the palpable pain of your loss. Beautiful.

  13. Mandyland
    February 20th, 2011 @ 7:28 am

    So beautifully written and so, so sad.

    I think my favorite part was WHERE the shirt was found. It was like a time capsule, keeping that single memory frozen in time.

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