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Today I Will Be

by Liam Lambert

At closing time, when the moving stairs stop and the moving people go, it is quiet. I prefer it, though, to the opening times, when the moving people will not stop wailing and slurping their thick liquids through their thick straws. I think I remember being like that once.

Nigel Store Manager will be here soon to start up the tills, turn on the lights, and bring us our needles. He brings them in his bag, and he pushes them down through our plastic cases and into the squishy parts underneath. He has to, he says, for our own good.

That too, I prefer to being stuck in the back of the store, with the boxes of arms and legs, and the polystyrene everywhere. I was there for a long time, when I was too tall for Children’s and too small for Women’s. No good to anyone. At least here, I can move my eyes at night, and I can see the other people in the shops this late. I like looking over at SportsWares, at the man in the tennis shorts–now he wears tennis shorts. Last month he wore a rugby shirt, and the month before that the silliest wetsuit and scuba mask! I laughed at him for that, and I think he laughed too.

This month I was “wrapped up warm” for the Winter Collection, or so Nigel Store Manager tells me. I wore a faux-fur hat, corduroy trousers, a parka, and woolly mitten-gloves with a matching scarf. It certainly felt very warm in there! Today, he says, I will be a perky, spring-chic idol, with a short, bright dress, large, wide hat, and stylish sandals.

“Mmmm! Like a Roman goddess in a Parisian April!” he says, and smacks his lips like he does when he eats egg-mayo at lunch.

“Giving them the do-over are you, Nige?” comes a call from SportsWares Tom, bright and early.

“Spring’s coming, Tom. Can’t have the poor things baking under these lights, can we?”

They both laugh, but it is uncomfortable.

As the other shops open and the people start piling in, I like to see how they react to me, especially the younger girls. They look at me like I’m a pop star, or, like Nigel Store Manager says, a goddess. One little girl pulls at the hemline of my dress, and her mother pulls her away, cursing as she goes. I really wish she could stay and pull at the hemline longer, but I am here to be looked at, not touched.

Liam Lambert is a student based in York, UK. He writes about videogames for, and is working on self-published collections of short fiction/poetry. He enjoys sci-fi, comics, crime fiction, and cool glasses of cranberry juice. When he was little, he used to wear oven gloves out and about the town, until he fell over on concrete. Now his face looks super weird.

Lead image: “Mannequin Army – Second Thoughts” (via Flickr user Rich Holoch)

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