this ended up much much longer than i originally intended ;;;; but i love it so i dont mind~~~. here i am continuing to fill out prompts from ages back for an anon and @22shiny22! i hope you like it~
“I’m flirting with you.”
“Yeah, I know. And I’m not interested.”
Minho was used to hearing these kinds of conversations. Three nights a week he worked behind the counter at one of the busiest underground bars in the city district. Men and women alike made moves on people who weren’t interested, said and did things that made everyone around them uncomfortable, especially the poor soul they’d sought to get into a bed that night. Usually, someone stepped in before Minho had to, a friend of the confronted person or sometimes a complete stranger. Sometimes it took their security personnel to drag the offender out of the club. It just turned out that this time Minho was standing right there as he was making a drink for the young man who was currently being talked up by another definitely older man. If Minho was being honest, he wasn’t surprised that the young man had been targeted, he’d thought of asking him out himself, just from his features and manner alone. But it was against company policy to talk up customers so he’d kept it professional.
Pretending to still be making the drink, Minho listened carefully as the conversation began to turn sour.
There was this added panic of getting the phone call, making plans to travel for the funeral…and realizing I owned nothing appropriate. I was right out of college and broke. I owned black button-downs and cheap black pants, worn thin from barista shifts. I owned a few cheap black cocktail dresses, one the remnant of a college Audrey Hepburn costume. My selections were, I suppose, a reflection of who I was at 22: working very hard now that college memories were stuffed in the closet.
But a funeral dress seemed like a worthy expenditure. When I was 12, I’d ruined a beautiful dress by wearing it to my grandmother’s funeral. She bought it for me to wear to the opera. And I wanted to wear it to her funeral, a strange way of honoring how much I loved her…but after that, I couldn’t even look at the dress. It was stained by grief, by sad memories.
What if I specifically bought a good black dress for funerals, though? I can’t ruin it if that has been its purpose all along.
So I drove to the mall, and I remember the fluorescent lights felt directed specifically at me. I stood there blinking, like an alien on a foreign planet. A freshly grieving girl in a world that was still spinning on as usual.
I searched the racks of a Macy’s, and I remember a saleswoman asking if I needed help.
“Yes,” I thought darkly. “But a more psychiatric kind than you are probably qualified to provide.”
“No, thank you,” I said.
I walked away with a really good dress. I’d post a picture of me in it but, of course, there are none. I’ve only ever worn it to funerals. It cost $60.
There was this tiny relief every time the funeral calls came. At least I have something appropriate to wear. At least I don’t have to worry about that one, truly foolish thing when I feel so shaken, so deeply sad.
When I got the news this week, it took me hours to mention to my husband, “I guess I should make sure my funeral dress still fits.”
I put it on this morning. Still fits, if a smidge more tightly. I still feel comfortable in it, confident that it’s appropriate.
And I couldn’t get it off. The zipper snagged against the sheer fabric and stuck. I was home alone. I yanked, I coaxed, I contorted my arms into painful positions. Nothing work.
And I started laughing. I mean, howling. Standing in the bedroom, stuck in my funeral dress, and WEEPING from how stupid and funny it was. It’s the first time I’ve really laughed in a week.
Because isn’t that what grief feels like? Trapped in a mourning dress.
After ten minutes, I accepted it. Hey, guess I’m writing in a formalish dress until my husband or a friend can come help me! Whatever. Worse things have happened. Worse things happened this WEEK.
I sat down at my computer, eyes still teary from laughter. And after a few minutes, I gently tugged one more time. A centimeter. Then another. A few tries spaced out, and I finally felt the whoosh of freedom.
And perhaps this is the way of grief and funeral dresses: Only when you accept it does it finally loosen, bit by bit.