Jess was only ten when the first pods washed up on the shore. She’d been standing with her toes dug into the sand, letting the cold Atlantic Ocean swirl around her ankles, daring herself to venture... [+]
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The days go by inexorably. Boring. My daily life, from Monday to Saturday. Even my Sundays have no flavour, identical from one week to the next. Except when the sales are on, when it’s non-stop.
In the store, I observe the customers, all ages, all social classes, various shapes and sizes. As time goes on, with practice, I learn how to tell the women who will make a purchase from those who are only there to pass the time or get ideas.
The whole world is there in front of my eyes. From the compulsive shopper collecting hats, bags, shoes and accessories just right for each of her outfits to the woman incapable of choosing what she likes or what suits her, who asks for advice but does not believe a word of it...
Sometimes, some of them envy me, I see it in their eyes; some even say so out loud.
But if only they knew how much I envy them too. I just follow management instructions. This season, we have to sell tweed, yesterday it was tartan, green, tomorrow it will be indigo blue or mustard yellow... And then we start all over again... Fashion is an orchestrated hold-up, a constant starting over, where nothing really changes, everything just stagnates... Like the tasks that fall to me.
I have no private life, everything in my life revolves around this store! It’s my millstone round my neck! How often I dream of leaving it all and living a different life. But in the end I stay here, vegetating, while all around me I hear customers in ecstasy over THE dress they absolutely must have to make their vacation perfect! Telling anyone who will listen to them that this year they are going to Bora Bora, Saint-Domingue or Tahiti... Places of which I know nothing.
Even that, I can cope with. The hardest thing is my solitude, being forced to smile and be dressed to the nine, while down, I feel a flood of tears seconds away from flowing. I am a prisoner of the image I convey.
And that woman coming towards me, accompanied by her child... If only I had a little being whose hand I could hold...
“Mommy, Mommy, look, the lady’s crying!”
“Don’t be silly, sweetie. It’s just a mannequin!”
Translated by Wendy Cross