Lorna bought a pink fleece pants set at Macy’s. In fact, she wore it up to the register. Her tattered clothes were neatly folded, held tightly under her arm. The pants set was fun, on sale and pink. She simply couldn’t take it off. It was ballet pink. Not that obnoxious cotton candy or bubble gum pink. An embroidered butterfly spanned the jewel neckline, and she touched it while she waited to make her purchase.
Pink was her favorite color, but she never wore it. The fact that was she was an autumn through and through, meant olives, grays, and browns were best suited to bring out the chestnut of her eyes and her natural complexion, the net result enhancing the highlights of her auburn hair. Everything came together when you simply followed your chart. Ballet pink was for springs and clearly she was not one. Today, Lorna wandered off her chart and she just couldn’t stop herself.
Leaning over the register’s counter, Lorna struck a graceful dancer’s pose, fully embracing her ballet pink, so the sales clerk could scan her pants set; she was confident that her recent extra pounds went unnoticed. Lorna felt so close to starlet status that, just as the clerk hit the total button, she nabbed a pair of silver hoops displayed by the register, each studded with a faux pink diamond at the bottom. She held them up to her ear. “What do you think?”
The clerk said, “Nice. It matches your outfit.”
The earrings looked like they fell out of a Cracker Jack box and were far too young for her, and Lorna knew it, but spontaneity channeled her inner child and she decided to buy them anyway. Sitting comfortably in her car, she thought about going to her Zumba class in her new pants set or maybe even for a quick jog. Anything seemed possible. She could just as easily call a friend and arrange that much-needed coffee date, the one promised in the final moments of a passing conversation. Her new outfit freed her spirit. That’s what she knew.
The pants and jacket hugged her skin, inviting a rest on the couch, and so she spread out her limbs and lounged, an altogether new activity she never allowed herself. Her husband Randall had already adopted his usual position in his La-Z-Boy recliner.
“Nice outfit,” Randall said, looking up from his smartphone. “Pink, huh? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in pink.” He went back to his scrolling.
Lorna couldn’t hold back her grin. “Just trying something different.”
Randall grunted; whether it was in response to her comment, Lorna didn’t know nor did she care. She stretched out some more and watched TV until it glowed in the darkness.
Finally, Randall asked, “What are we having for dinner?” He had fallen asleep, a common phenomenon for he woke up in shock every time when he slipped away like that. Lorna counted on his typical snoozing for personal space and peace of mind, now invaded.
“I thought we’d order out. Why not Chinese from that place in the shopping center? We’ll have it delivered.”
When the food arrived, they resumed their watching positions and ate quietly, Lorna careful not to spill on her pink fleece, so soft she hardly wanted to wash it. And the comfort. The longer she wore it, the more comfortable it felt, comfortable enough that she fell asleep in front of the TV and didn’t wake until the next day.
Waking up in her outfit made getting ready a snap. A few stretches and she was off running her usual course, feeling as light as the butterfly that passed her, running sparingly so as not to muck up, what she momentarily considered, her new activewear. She showered quickly and slipped right back into her pink pants set. Her absence didn’t occur to Randall as he slept through her run and only noticed the pink flush of her skin as she prepared morning eggs.
Gardening in the pink fleece was as equally as comforting. Lorna sat her soft, fleeced bum on the dirt before remembering to protect her clothes with a towel. As the dirt was dry, she simply brushed it off. She saw no reason to change before having that coffee with her friend Felicia, who noticed her new outfit straight away.
“Do you need to change?” asked Felicia, who never needed to change a thing, always achieving the right combination of personal style and high fashion know-how.
Lorna did a pass in front of the mirror, brushed a few stray flecks of dirt and powdered her nose. “No, I’m good.”
Several times during their outing, Felicia looked her up and down and interrupted Lorna in mid-sentence asking if she felt all right, to which Lorna responded, “I’ve never felt better.”
Her heightened mood continued even as she shed her clothes into the washing machine for a cleaning. Hot from the dryer, the pants set retained its lovely pink softness and Lorna promptly returned it to his proper place, her body. It didn’t matter that it was Monday and that her body would be returning to the office of mortar grays and fabric browns. Her smooth pink undoubtedly influenced her co-workers’ cheerful nods and smiles. No one suggested she return in more formal attire, which was a good thing considering she had neglected to wash her clothes; she determined that her pants set be washed in exclusivity and nothing else fit in her closet anyway. The pants set really saved the day.
So, she wore it with no hesitation, day in and day out, and it was no surprise that she wore it out to dinner with Randall. Not since the gorgeous gown of her wedding day had Randall bothered to comment on her attire, and remarked, “It’s the pink lady.”
“Oh, stop,” Lorna said, and then, “Do you think I should change?”
“Nah, I’m glad you’re comfortable, hon.”
“That’s what I said,” Lorna said. “Why should clothes really matter? If anything, my production has gone way up.”
After they ordered two spaghetti plates and red wine, Lorna explained how her boss called her in, giving her a lecture about the importance of on-the-job professionalism and so she asked her husband between slurps of noodles, “Where else would you have professionalism, right?” A few drops of wine fell onto her jacket, which she forgot to take off at dinner; she almost forgot she wore it all. Her whole outfit, in fact, had become her second skin, and now it was stained.
“Tsk-tsk. I guess you’ll have to change now,” Randall said. “Or, you could wear nothing at all.”
His comment faded into the checkered tablecloth Lorna stared at while she sipped her wine, twitching her eyebrows together as they did when she sank into deep thought. “I need to order some backups.”
That evening, Lorna ordered seven “backups” from Macy’s online, one for each day of the week, all pink and, of course, she knew they would fit. It was an action both pure and simple, and resolute self-assurance swelled in her loins. It was her suit and tie, her prescribed uniform of happiness, and no one could stand in her way.
Scarfs, purses, and necklaces fortified her outfit and added just enough variance to fool her boss when he saw her from the waist up sitting at the conference table. She even joined Felicia in a spontaneous shopping frenzy, accessorizing her outfit to such a degree that her slim wardrobe was allotted more money than she had ever spent on herself in the past. It was her small price for freedom of a pink pants set. Her co-workers presented her a tiara with sparkling pink diamonds, which adorned her desk and bounced prisms of light across the ceiling in late afternoon. She wore her pink pants and matching jacket with pride.
Except, she couldn’t bring herself to wear anything else, even when all of her outfits were dirtied. It got so that everyone expected to see her dressed in her multitalented pink pants set: her work getup, her jogger, her activewear lounger. She was the Pink Lady Queen and she had the blues. This second skin morphed like a tattoo she couldn’t undo.
Constant washings diluted her pink pants sets and they became lighter in color, all different versions of themselves, ghosts of white. She was done with backups. One day, she let them all float away and lay in bed in her real skin, lingering a little longer. Naked and exposed, her light shone through, her skin illuminating its own private hue.