Monday, September 13, 2010

"dry clean only."

She hated winter because it kept her from skirts, the staunch spirit of the north wind rustling fresh fingers between chilly legs. Summer breeze had turned to fall gusts, and the altitude had begun to tumble into the folds of the canyon gusts and blow her dark hair behind pink ears. She could smell it, the winter. It had that stench of freezing despair and inevitable stasis that accompanied the only season used as a euphemism for a poor disposition.

Snow was coming and she wasn't pleased.

It felt the worst in the mornings. The sharpness of the air was a papercut to her nostrils and cut a little deeper with every inch across the sky that the sun streaked. She'd slink out from beneath her down comforter, the sounds of a new day masked by the air raid drill launching from her alarm clock as she trudged to the bathroom, shed terrycloth skin, and washed the sleep from oily hair and open eyes.

Makeup took longer to put on than anyone really knew. The old axiom of 80/20 applied here, too: it took 80% more time to look like she only put on 20% as much makeup. Her routine involved more things than she'd care for you to know, as well, which was mostly--if not exclusively--the reason for the minimalism. Foundation to face, mascara to lashes, gloss to lips. Hair would almost always fall from outside of the towel used to hold it aloft, and she knew it was time to stop, no matter how much of her routine she had left, when enough of her bangs had dripped down her forehead to cover the freckles she still hadn't decided upon.

The skirts--as we've gone into already--didn't really suit the climate, but her expectations had fallen like the leaves from the oak outside her door and she decided to go with it anyway. Skirts were a way to protest the changing seasons and she'd find a way to adapt. Leggings, pantyhose, tights, uncovered legs: she was going to fight winter at every turn, goosebumps be damned.

A few weeks prior, when the temperature and her checking account balance were that much higher, she'd bought a black wool skirt that rose just above the crink of her knee. Its price had been lowered to an almost ungodly discount, presumably due to its poor choice as a winter bottom, but she bought it anyway. Take that, Winter, she had thought, handing a credit card, weathered from use, to the small Asian man that rang her up. I'm not gonna go quietly into that good night. Or winter. And she didn't give a damn what the weatherman on the radio said. The weatherman on the radio said a lot of things.

But today. Today was the day that no new black wool skirt would go unworn.

After sliding now-dry arms through a starched white blouse and adorning bare legs with dark tights, she climbed into a plaid coat roughly the size of the down comforter she had left behind in a rumpled mess on her floral sheets. Thermos of tea in one hand and bookbag in the other, she stepped into the ether of a town she didn't want to be in, in a season she didn't want to be in, at a time of day she didn't want to be out of bed in, in a black wool skirt that was a middle finger to the things around her that she could not change.

She missed home, and the morning wind indicated a winter only a handful of increasingly cold weeks away. The nights were cold, too, but nights were cold everywhere.

It's just the wind in the morning, she thought. Everyone's cold sometime. No use crying about it.