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  • After a Fashion by Victoria Foxx

    After a Fashion

    Sinead took the garment from the closet and laid it on her bed. She looked at it lovingly, like it was some special treasure. The Kinsale cape had belonged to her great grandmother and had then passed from mother to daughter. All had kept it in pristine condition but none, save great grandmother, had ever worn it. The heavy garment of black cotton velvet, with the hood and collar of pure wool and the lining of sensuous satin, was Sinead’s one remaining link to her roots and she valued it above anything else she owned. The regular trip to the dry cleaner to have the garment freshened up had become a ritual and an act that kept so many memories alive for her. All of the women in Western Ireland had worn these until the turn of the twentieth century and it was Sinead’s own physical hold on her history. Many times, when bills were pressing and money was tight, she had been reminded of the value of this antique item. No matter how rough things might be, there was nothing that would make her part with the cloak.

    Hard times were the same thing as relationships as far as Sinead was concerned. There had been lovers, quite a few, perhaps more than she really cared to remember, and all had brought nothing but trouble into her life. Just turned thirty, she knew herself to be an attractive woman. When she sat at the dressing table she liked what she saw. Nothing of that haggard face that looked back at her when there was a man in her life and she took satisfaction in that. Her career ousted romantic involvement and replaced it with a healthy bank balance. The things she liked and wanted, she could always afford and living without a man to drag her down was no price to pay.

    “I feel so sorry for those people who are slaves to fashion.”

    The girl who served the cup of coffee looked thoughtfully at Sinead, pondering her words. The two knew each other as well as a customer and waitress ever can. Sinead used this same coffee house several times a week and enjoyed the brief chats they had.

    “There was a time when the quality of clothes was evident in the cut and style and there was no need to wear designer labels on the outside,” Sinead continued.

    The waitress simply nodded, offering a mumbled apology before shuffling away to serve other waiting customers.

    Sinead hardly noticed the girl leaving. Her mind was in the wardrobe. Her collection of antique clothing was her pride. Whenever possible she would scour the specialist antique clothes stores to hunt out new treasures. She favoured clothes from the nineteen twenties through to the forties and they were getting increasingly pricey and harder to come by. Nevertheless, they made up a good seventy five per cent of her wardrobe. The clothes she wore that day; the russet satin, calf length skirt and cream velvet jacket over the white broderie anglaise blouse, were all of that era. Heads turned wherever Sinead went, people looking at her as if she had stepped out of an antique Hollywood poster. Even her dark hair was in the style of a forties film star.

    The balding, squirrel faced man at the dry cleaning shop handled the garment like it was fragile crystal glass. His eyes betrayed more than he realised of what was going through his mind as he exchanged pleasantries with Sinead’s bust line. The man took pride in his own role in the ritual and always looked forward to it, making certain that he was the one to serve Sinead. He always knew the day that she would come into the shop with the antique cape, always at precisely ten in the morning, and would take great pains to usher the other workers off for their morning break a few minutes prior to her arrival. He wanted nobody intruding on this sacrament. Sinead despised the man’s overly servile attitude and kept any conversation to a minimum but she appreciated the special care that he always showed the valued cape. She breathed a sigh of relief as she took the proffered ticket from his shaky hand and turned curtly to leave the shop. She shuddered as she closed the door behind her, still feeling the man’s eyes undressing her.

    Sinead sat at the dressing table and studied herself in the mirror as she removed her make-up, glad that the day was over. Loneliness invaded through the vacant space in the wardrobe. Thought of family, of children’s laughter or baby’s cries; thoughts of a man who would treat her as she needed to be treated and lovingly share his life with her; these things flooded her mind with accompanying smells and sounds. Once again, her life became empty while the memories which would usually fill the space waited to be collected from the dry cleaning shop the next day. Life went on… after a fashion.
    This article was originally published in blog: After a Fashion started by Lady S
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