Hello! Here is the next part of my story about haunted wedding dresses, that I’m experimenting with by spreading out the story over a few blog posts rather than all at once.
In Part 1, we met Leila, who works as a seamstress altering wedding dresses. Somehow, the wedding dresses say nasty things about each other – and apparently only Leila can hear them. Is it all in her head? She’s had some tough times recently, after the death of a beloved aunt and her mother’s subsequent illness. Could she be imagining the whole thing?
On starless windless nights – Part 2
Why didn’t she leave?
She made good money here, and if it hadn’t been for the nastiness from the dresses she would have been exceedingly happy.
Surely it would get better. Concentrate on her work. There was, after all, that rumor in her family about her old uncle, the one that had talked to his furniture and told stories about how they danced in the evening to the music of Liszt and Mendelssohn. He’d eventually died ignominiously in a “mental health center,” rarely spoken of in his own family. She didn’t dare think the same thing might be happening to her.
One day Leila, by mistake, happened to mention the voices of the dresses to Shareen, her best friend among the other staff at the shop. Shareen was one of Leila’s favorite designers – her work was more dramatic than traditional designs.
Shareen had come by the workroom to go over a change in one of her recent gowns. As they both studied the illustration, Shareen was saying: “What do you think? I’m going for a serpentine look here -”
– and Leila said impatiently, “I can’t think here. Can’t we talk about this in the design studio?”
Shareen said, “It’s too crowded in there. Noisy, you know what I mean?” And she smiled.
Leila said grimly, “Not as noisy as in here.” She’d spoken before realizing what she was saying.
Shareen looked at her, then laughed. “You’re kidding. Right?”
Leila shook her head, then sank back onto her workroom stool.
“But . . . there’s no one in here except us.”
Leila hesitated. Then, before she knew it, the whole story tumbled out.
After she had finished, Shareen said, “Girlfriend: you’re hearing voices?”
Lella nodded. “Every day.”
“That’s just strange. Honey, you’ve got to see someone.”
Leila brushed her off. “It’s just, well, I’ve been through a lot. My mom was sick for a long time. I’m just adjusting to being back at work. It’ll be fine.”
“It’s not fine. I can tell just by looking at you. How long has this been going on?”
“I don’t know, several weeks – it’s fine, really.” She shouldn’t have said anything.
Shareen did an odd thing then. She looked around the workroom, and then she said, “All right, listen up. Stop it. You better not be giving my good friend here a hard time, you hear? BEHAVE YOURSELVES.” Shareen’s voice was larger than life, Leila thought. And, astonishingly, the dresses quieted as suddenly as if a light switch had been turned off.
Shareen went on, “And that’s not all. I’d better not hear any more about your nasty mouthiness, or I’ll be back in her on your case like THAT!” Shareen snapped her fingers. The dresses remained silent.
“Wow. Thanks,” Leila staid.
Shareen leaned in. She whispered in Leila’s ear, “They’re not talking now?”
Leila shook her head wordlessly.
“Good. Okay, let’s go somewhere else. This place is starting to creep me out.”
As they left the workroom, Shareen turned and called, “Behave yourselves!” before they shut the door behind them.
In a quiet alcove in the showroom Shareen and Leila finished their conversation about the design change. As they were walking back to their work stations, Shareen said, “You need to see someone.”
“I’m fine. Really.”
“No, not really. Everyone could use someone to talk to now and then. Take this.” Shareen handed Leila a business card. It was for a therapist. “Give her a call.”
Leila spent the whole afternoon in lovely quiet in her workroom. The dresses did not speak up, even when she started on a new one. She relaxed, realizing how tense she had been in the presence of the voices. It was amazing that Shareen had somehow believed her, even though she could not hear the voices herself. Shareen’s confidence in Leila’s story, however improbable, made Leila think more about her suggestion, and even though she did not like the idea of going to see someone about her problem, since, how would she explain it without sounding nuts, and what would they say when she did tell them, and anyway she didn’t want to end up like her old uncle, and, well, she would go. In deference to Shareen, she would go.
But she wasn’t sure it would help. Perhaps, like her old uncle, she was slowly going insane.