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The Dress

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The dress draws my eye too. For one thing, it does not pin itself to the the most overused quality in art: elegance. It is not meant to hug the wearer. No, it is meant to swirl around her as she moves naked in its folds.

Worldly.

Andrea runs a light finger on the silk. What would she know about this dress?

It's not simply beautiful. No, it is a private joke. It is a throwback to a time when Saint Laurent, barely out of his teens, shocked the hallowed Dior house by combining high fashion with Russian peasant blouses. It pays high tribute to the master even as it mocks haute couture.

She glances at the price tag, and her wide eyed expression does not change. She drops the tag, stands back to admire the dress once more before moving away. She circles the store.

I look away. I know that she will come back.

Soon enough, out of the corner of my eye, I see her touching the material lightly, reverently. As if she is not allowed to.

The flight boarding announcement blares through the waiting area, and Andrea stops her irritating dawdling. She rushes to my side and picks up my hand baggage. We approach the gate. She hands me my passport wordlessly, careful to give me plenty of purchase so that I can take it without touching her.

She thinks I do not notice these things.

I walk behind her and risk another glance at the dress. In an airport store, of all places.

Was it not Marcus Aurelius who spoke of time as a flowing river? Moments, seconds lost, never to come back. I reach for the quote, I want to taste it, but it hovers just beyond my memory.

The flight attendant takes our passports, while I indulge in a momentary, nonsensical fantasy.

The dress, in a box. Anonymous, left somewhere -- I don't know -- on the desk, on apartment steps? Or parents, yes. Rich parents. Christmas. Or perhaps it's found on the subway? Someone has lost it and there is no note, no contact information, so one has to keep it.

My mind flits from possibility to possibility, each one as harmless as the last.

Safe.

They do not spiral. No gifts from me, for example. Not even castoffs. No Andrea ever, for example, with a blinding smile at her discovery--

I blink the image away. What they say is true. It is certainly a gift, to see the seed and imagine the forest. To see a spark and imagine the hellfire. It is my gift, my long honed craft, and my burden. No spiraling fantasies for the ice queen.

I know with absolute certainty that the dress will not turn up in an anonymous box.

It may, perhaps, join the damning catalogue of minutiae, tucked away in the recesses of my mind, away from Runway, away from the daylight and the shrink's couch.

The flight attendant returns our passports and murmurs an inane, smiling greeting that Andrea returns. I glare at the pair of them, mostly out of habit.