fiction

Uptown Girl

Emma sat cross-legged on a white leather couch staring at the flowering trees of Central Park through the floor to ceiling windows on the east side of the apartment where she was cat-sitting. She cradled in her lap an ancient Persian cup filled with hot coffee.

She watched the colors change as the sun rose, and she drank the coffee.

Around noon, Carmen knocked on the door.

“Marvelous!” said Carmen as she meandered through the apartment.

Emma returned to the couch.

It was quiet for a while, and then Carmen said, “Look!” She dumped a pile of fabric on the couch next to Emma.

“You’d better put those back the way you found them,” said Emma.

Carmen took off her clothes. “Try them on with me.”

“They won’t fit me.”

Carmen put on a black dress with hard lines and nearly invisible lacework. It fit like it had been painted on. She leaned backwards against the window, closed her eyes, and spread her arms so that her knuckles rested on the glass. It seemed like there was nothing behind her, that she would fall backwards.

Carmen tried on dress after dress, sometimes walking around the room, sometimes standing still.

The last dress was yellow and had crystal buttons crossing from the left shoulder to the right hem. “Isn’t yellow the most erotic of the colors?” Carmen asked Emma, sitting down next to her. Carmen sat straight and crossed one ankle behind the other. She put her palms on her raised knee and squeezed her shoulders together.

“Isn’t red?” asked Emma.

“Don’t be a fool,” said Carmen. “Invite Tara over. She’ll show you.”

“No way,” said Emma. “She’ll steal one.”

“She’ll steal them all,” said Carmen. “As for me, I’m taking this one.”

“Nope,” said Emma.

“I’ll wait for them to come home so they can see me in it. They’ll realize I deserve it.”

“What should we eat for lunch?” asked Emma.

“Hors d’oeuvres, canapés, Champagne.”

“I was thinking Korean.”

Carmen’s phone chimed. “Tara’s on her way.”

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