“You don’t seem too impressed,” Genesis reflected on Aeris’ demeanour.
With one hand gripping her hip in a display of defiance, Aeris’ ran her other hand across the row of dresses on the rack. Her hand briefly caught the lace on a burgundy dress, but it didn’t particularly pique her interest.
“I suppose these just aren’t my style.”
“I think they all would look lovely.” Genesis held up the burgundy dress, dissecting it with his gloved fingers under the warm glow of the chandeliers, “I mean, I am preferential to this one.”
Aeris let air escape her cheeks in a huff. “Of course you are.”
“Well, we can always try another store,” Genesis suggested.
“I’d rather not.”
She could clearly see the price tags, hanging on a golden string. She was willing to try, however; although the prospect of Plate high society made her feel uneasy, it intrigued her. As she stood on the corner of 1st and Broadway, snow drifting down, she would contently imagine the lives her patrons lived. She imagined they lived rushed lives but still they would take a moment of their life to enjoy the simplicity of her flower selection.
“You don’t seem at all interested in my proposition,” Genesis continued to press, suggesting another dress resembling the one she was wearing.
Genesis approached her as she was walking to train station late one evening. The snow settled nicely on the holiday decorations trimming each store front window. Aeris lamented over the fact that down beneath the Plate, snow rarely would grace the Slums, except for the small cracks between the Sectors. In fact, the snow wouldn’t last long in Midgar; the snow would melt and drain in the sewers by the next morning. By the time Aeris returned back onto the Plate midday, the snow would return. It just seemed synonymous –holiday season and snow. Genesis agreed.
With each passing holiday season, Genesis seemed more and more preoccupied. This time it was no different. Every holiday, Shin-Ra exploded with fabricated holiday cheer. They imposed their stringed lights, aerosol snow and shiny presents, all extenuated by superfluous holiday parties. Genesis, like many of the other marketable young Soldier men, became the center of each holiday party. He went alone, most of the time. But then boredom wore on him.
“I just find it very strange you want me to go with you.”
“Who else? You have no idea at what lengths I go to to avoid these functions. It would be nice to have someone join me in my misery. Someone like you.”
Aeris remember the day she first crossed his path one day. Zack mentioned her in passing several times. She was selling flowers on the Plate, prospects of expanding her business led her there. Genesis recognized her instantly. She imposed a flower on him, cheekily charging him full price. The banter continued. Banter perfect to drown the insincere babble of a Shin-Ra holiday party.
“Well I didn’t agree to go yet,” Aeris retorted.
“Yet,” Genesis emphasised. “I think you would amuse yourself.”
Aeris didn’t envision herself as the kind to enjoy the lavish. She thought herself to be a simple woman with modest aspirations. She supposed that was what attracted Genesis. There was something to be said for the folk saying: opposites attract. But something much more complex lay beneath. Genesis was jaded by this lifestyle Shin-Ra imposed upon him. He no longer found no amusement in the parties, no joy in clusters of fans, no reprieve in the media validation. To be honest, Aeris was beginning to believe he was much simpler at his core than she.
“Perhaps,” Aeris confessed.
“It’s much more amusing insulting conventions with you than going at it alone.”
It was then something caught her eye. Aeris reached into the rack and pulled out a navy dress, cradling it in her arms. The warm velvet settled into her fingertips and brushed her arm. It was rather simple, a heart neckline and a daring cut up the leg, but incredibly luxurious.
“Very sensual,” Genesis commented on Aeris’ choice, leaning close to her ear.
Aeris’ tongue snapped behind her teeth. “I just think it’s a perfect holiday dress.”
“That’s for certain,” Genesis nodded. Laying the dress in the nook of her arm, Aeris hand crept into his jacket. His warm chest heaved. “Why don’t we try it on?”
The changing rooms were empty and gaudy. The same crystal chandeliers from the front of the store were in the changing rooms, amidst some purple silk hanging from the ceiling. Aeris thought it unnecessary but oddly saw the appeal. As soon as she chose a stall, she felt pampered and the dress was suddenly more appealing.
She measured the dress against her bare skin. Aeris proceeded to remove her bra, strap by strap, exposing her shoulders. Tan freckles lined the apex of her shoulder blades and ran down her arms until they trailed off into pale obscurity. She wondered how they became to be; she imagined her mother, fair-skinned, susceptible to freckling. She shimmied into the dress, her arm in a display of acrobatics zipped the back. She admired herself in the mirror. The dress surprisingly clung as it was designed to: in all the right places.
“How can you deal with all of this?” Aeris asked, twisting around to catch the reflection of her backside. This dress, this store, the throngs of people scurrying in desperation trying to find their last holiday purchase… Aeris understood how Genesis could find it tiresome. Holidays meant something completely different in the Slums. They learned to enjoy the simplicities of the holidays; out of necessity or an alternative to the corporate greed above the Plate, Aeris wasn’t certain.
“Well,” Genesis laughed, “it is what it is.”
Curious, Genesis peeked from behind the shimmery curtain. He seemed impressed by her choice. He snuck into the changing room, barely enough room for two. His eyes were transfixed to the image displayed on the mirror. Aeris’ hands hovered around her neckline, inviting him closer. His body lined up perfectly behind hers, his chin resting on her bare shoulder.
“I like it,” he admitted.
“So do I.” Her hands moved from her neckline to her hips and then finally settled on her thigh. “Decent enough for a party on the Plate, you would say?”
Warm fingers lingered on her bare thigh, tracing small circles. Small pulsing shivers sent along her hips and up her back. Aeris wondered when he had taken off his gloves as his fingers looped around the band of her panties, teasing around her hip. Her hands reached for him, his cheeks still cool from the frigid air outside. Soft kisses lined her palm.
“I’m glad you decided to join me,” he breathed, lips pressed against her neck, cool cheeks warming. “Perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.”
“I’m glad you asked,” she chuckled. “Holidays are best not spent alone.”