The severed finger hit the floor with a thud and remained still, framed by splotches of red that stood in stark contrast to the white Berber carpet. She swayed, slightly hunched, the scissors still in her left hand, blades slightly parted. A sound that was half sigh and half curt, restrained laugh shot briefly through her closed lips and then gave way to a quiet chuckle, annunciated through abdominal spasms and matching rhythmic, forced nasal breaths. She set down the scissors and examined the injured hand with cold detachment as if she were a painter studying the curves and hues of a flower, her eyes rising to meet the blank visage staring back at her, a reflection modeled after her own.
“This won’t do at all.” she said aloud as if speaking to the image before her, its awkward pose mimicking her own.
She turned towards the closet, stepping on the finger and sending it flopping a few inches as she did so, small bits of red flying further across the floor. She slid open the door, her eyes scanning the oversized space until they fell upon what looked like a large bundle of bedsheets in the corner, yellowed white with areas discolored by dark stains. She pulled it to the floor from the bottom, odds and ends that were leaning against it losing support and hitting the corner with dull thuds in the process, and dragged it out of the closet, slightly coddling her right hand in a cold, absentminded fashion.
She struggled with the stiff body, fumbling with sheets and duct tape until it spun loose and fell, legs splayed, to the floor, unmoving. She reached down and brushed its right arm, pale, rubbery, cool to the touch. Grabbing tightly under its arms, she slid the body upright with a groan, propping it, naked, against the pale blue wall. She stood for a second, observing, pondering, a slight smile breaking through her features, only momentarily cracking as her hand pulsed with pain.
Slowly and methodically pulling the dress over the injured hand, she gazed at her mirror image as she slid the dress up further, overhead, exposing curves and smooth features. She walked over to the body leaning against the wall, struggled to tilt it against a metal post, and slid the dress over its head, pushing arms through sleeves and tipping the body awkwardly forward to slide the tight-fitting bottom of the dress down smooth, unnaturally pale thighs, coming to a rest just above stiff knees.
She reached for the blonde wig on the dressing table with her left hand while balancing the body, hunched against her shoulder and held in place by her right wrist. She placed the wig on its head and adjusted the long locks to cover up the body’s own thick, wildly disheveled brown strands, catching a glimpse of dead, lifeless eyes reflecting dim light as she propped the body back against the wall.
“Why did I have to have these damned mannequins modeled after my face, anyway?” she muttered under her breath with a sigh.
Maybe a nice promotional touch, but they creep me the fuck out.
She continued trimming the red dress, more bits of crimson fabric falling to the floor in random patterns. She winced and rubbed the throbbing fingers of her right hand.
I guess that’s what I get for sewing and cutting for 10 hours straight. Damned carpal tunnel. Barely even felt it when I snapped off that rubbery plastic finger. I hope I can get away with glue. Maybe a ring will cover it up. At least I had a spare in the closet. Speaking of which, I’d better go dig out a mannequin stand before I knock it over and break this one, too.
If she was lucky, she would be able squeeze in a few hours of sleep before opening the shop in the morning and unveiling her new designs.
©2013 Joshua Heinrich
A writer and professional musician (best known for his long-time solo project, fornever), Joshua Heinrich dabbles in everything from the visual arts to web design. His writing credits include a three year stint as a music journalist among other creative writing publications and endeavors. His uneasiness at writing about himself in the third person often leads to short autobiographical blurbs.