A Weighty Error

Suck in, zip up an inch – this has to fit, I know I’m a size six. Formal is next week, and this dress has been reserved for months. Maybe I’m just a little bloated, or perhaps it was the massive burger I had for lunch – I knew I should have gotten the salad! However, my eating habits haven’t exactly been health conscious these last few weeks. Junk food is easily accessible in a college dorm; it’s mini fridges full of coke products and pantries loaded with quick-fix microwave dinners and ramen noodles. The infamous warning of the “freshman fifteen” is no myth.  I was influenced by others’ habits, so it’s not completely my fault, right? Who am I kidding, I’ve lost all sense of self-control. Hostess is my vice, and Red Bull is my confidant.

“How you doing in there? Should I grab a different size, perhaps a wrap to accessorize?”

I hate when sales associates badger me with questions, especially when I’m trying to focus on whether the outfit accentuates the incorrect locations (makes my butt look big). “No, I’m doing fine, thank you!” Lie. I’m starting to feel light-headed, perhaps due to the fact I’ve been restricted to shallow breathing for the past couple minutes. Suck in a little more, tug the zipper up another fraction of an inch.

I glare at the mirror in front of me with a look of utter disgust. That pouch wasn’t there a few months ago, and walking in sky-high heels is difficult enough, much less with thighs that will be chafing by the end of the night. These observations are reason enough for me to forgo the dress, never mind the gaping side zipper that refuses to comply with my weight gain. With a solemn (limited) sigh, I chose to remove the beautiful gown.

The zipper sticks. My mind is jolted to a horrific childhood memory of Winnie the Pooh getting stuck in a rabbit hole because of his gluttonous tendencies towards honey. I go into a distressed panic – the dress constricts further the more I wrestle to break free. What sadistic designer would create a bodycon dress without a trace of lycra or spandex – a situation like this was bound to occur, and it would obviously affect me personally. I consider screaming help, but that would be just a tad bit awkward. Think rationally – in times of distress, simply enter said predicament into Google’s search box. “What to do when a zipper sticks?” I quickly scroll through the results praying for deliverance, but to my disappointment, I didn’t think to come prepared with a bar of soap. How negligent of me.

“Still doing alright?”

Desperate times call for desperate measures – “Actually, it appears I’m stuck. Is there any chance you could be of assistance?” That didn’t sound too terribly pathetic, did it?

“Oh, well that’s not good!”

You don’t say. I unlock the stall door and lift my arm to indicate my dilemma.

“Well let’s see what I can do.” She has a look of sympathy and concern written on her face, but she must be smirking inside. I wonder how many times she’s been put in this uncomfortable position – I’m inclined to think I’m not the first chubby girl to get stuck in a dress.

She inspects the zipper and fiddles with it for a moment, then plainly states, “It’s jammed beyond repair. I suppose we’ll have to cut you out.”

My eyes bug and heat flushes my face to a deep red as I legitimately consider dying of humiliation.

“I’m just joking, honey! Don’t look so frightened!” the worker laughs as she gives one quick yank to the closure, releasing its grasp to the surrounding fabric. She pulls the zipper down and I inhale deeply to recollect my nerves.

“Thank you,” I breathe. I genuinely appreciate mockery and the realization that I’ve packed on the pounds right before my first college formal. Really, I do.

She leaves me to finish changing, and I place the demise of my dignity onto its hanger. As I exit the changing room, I surrender the dress to the employee. She looks confused and says, “You don’t want to try on a different size? How about you go up to a size six?”

What A Twist – The Harlequin, a short story.

paul-cezanne-harlequin

Cezanne’s “The Harlequin” by A. Nueve

“I was instilled upon history for the sole reason to make you, my dear audience of the theater, laugh until you have no wits about you. My silence will not bore you nor tire you, but rather cause you to be on the edge of your seat, heart racing with anticipation and your mind thinking, ‘What will he do next?’” “I am the Harlequin, an arlecchino, and don’t ever dare christen me a jester. I am much more evolved than such, for I am a member of the prestigious Italian Commedia dell’arte. It even sounds impressive, does it not? Being a component of this elite group, my job is to entertain you mindless bunch simply by mimicking you, which curiously, sends you all into a fit of hearty laughter. I jest. I presume you all are a dignified people considering you came to see this fantastic rendition occurring tonight. You will see juggling, dancing, trapeze artistry –preformed proudly by yours truly– and a whole array of marvelous acts. Prepare to be thoroughly amazed and enjoy the show.” I fall behind the green velvet curtain, which clashes against my bold red and black diamond-pattern adornments. I look regally ridiculous, which adds to the show. I step to the full-length mirror while my colleagues entertain the audience on the other side of the curtain. “You ravishing devil,” I speak out loud, admiring the cunning reflection. “Ha! You are merely a haughty man unfit to play the roll of a harlequin!” spoke the defying tone of a young woman. She was clad in the attire of a trivelino, with stars and moons stitched onto her dazzling purple uniform. Her face was caked in white makeup, but her cheeks had a bright slap of pink. “Jealousy is never pretty, Caprice. I am the star of this production, and you know it to be true.” “If anything that I am to know true, it is that you are about to be truant!” I rush into place. That little rendezvous with Miss Caprice nearly caused me to be late for one of my premier moments, and that simply would not be fair to the expecting audience, for the severity of their disappointment would be so great. But by and by, I step into place and the curtain rises. The spotlight, along with many pairs of gleaming eyes, is all focused on me, the star of the show, the king of the theater of comedy! I begin the act and other actors and actresses follow. Blaring horns and crashing symbols form the sound affects as each of us utilize our facial gestures and exploit meticulous movements to illustrate the scene. I am the Harlequin. Not only do I exhibit pantomime like the other stage members, although my skills are absolutely faultless, I flip and tumble like no other, capturing the ooh’s and ahh’s of the spectators. After the skit has concluded, the curtain lowers once again, and I can hear the roaring applause. They loved me. Next up is that tatterdemalion Caprice. Her name means unpredictable and whimsical. Oh, how I loathe her. Caprice entered the stage, immersing the crowd in pure interest. She produced a bubbly, quirky vibe that influenced the audience and had them smiling before the burlesque had even started. She began. What followed was a boisterous laughter from the people, one louder and more enthusiastic than what the Harlequin had received! “What is this?” exclaimed the Harlequin. He rushed to the curtain break, and peaked out to find what on earth the trivelino was doing that was so riotous. What he discovered was Caprice imitating his act! The stupid expression on her face and sloppy movements all implied as to what she was doing. She was making the audience think he was a fool! In a furious rage, the Harlequin stomped onto the stage and bellowed, “How dare you make me into a fool in front of this entire audience!” Caprice faced him, her countenance remaining cool and collected. “Dear Harlequin,” she began, “your name in itself defines you a clown. You wonder what the people laugh at, do you? It is not your act, but your arrogance. They believe it to be irony, considering you work in the theater of comedy!” A prideful harlequin, it is a joke in itself. The Harlequin looked shocked. He would show her! He would prove to all of these people that he truly deserved to be star of the theater! And in one last attempt of dignity, he did what no other actor or actress in Commedia dell’arte could do: he flipped. Or so he tried.

written for Daily Prompt: What a Twist!