Costume, Uniform, Dress
Where is it. Where is it. Where is it. Where. Is. It. I know it’s here somewhere. It shouldn’t be that hard to find. It’s big, it’s red and it’s bright. But it’s not here. Why isn’t it here. Not like it has legs. Did someone mistake it for their’s - no couldn’t have. No one comes in here. Did mom take it - no shouldn’t have. She would have said. Did I lose it - no wouldn’t have. Why would I wear it any other day than today.
Her head pops in the doorway eyebrows raised in a question. She’s not answering because she’s got hairpins and other assorted doodads in her mouth. She must have been doing my sister’s hair.
“Have you seen my outfit?” Mumbles and a headshake follows. I grit my teeth in returns as she disappears once more down the hall to answer my sister’s protestations and demands about her hair. I don’t know what the big deal is, she’s going to have a hat on so no one can see it anyways. And even when she runs off with her friends, which she inevitably will, she’ll keep her hat on for the cold. Even in the crowds the wind can be biting.
The former contents of my drawer are scattered over my room. Nothing. It’s not there. Time to shift through my year of detritus. Mom says I should clean my room, that I’ll never find anything in here with the mess. It’s not a mess I tell her, just organized chaos - where everything is somewhere and anything is in reach. Except I’m inclined to believe her now.
Alright I need a plan of attack. If I take the bed first then everything can go on the floor. After that I’ll try under the bed. Then the closet, bookshelf and finally the back of the door. All I have to do is pile it all in the center of the room and then I’ll know where it isn’t. Nevermind what’s there.
The bed is quick. A swift swipe of the cover drags everything to the floor - pillow, book, flashlight, Goober, phone. Nothing. Under the bed is boxes of assorted things. All too small to be what I’m looking for. I don’t bother with what’s in the boxes, they just go on the pile. Zone 1 is clear.
The closet is the most likely location for my dress. Hanging it means it’s not wrinkled. No wrinkles means mom isn’t on me to iron it. Ironing sucks. I try to argue it’s bad for the environment but she’s having none of it, won’t even look at the justifications I find on my phone for not ironing. She says it’s a matter of pride in yourself to be presentable. I say at least I’m wearing it.
Which is when she sighs.
It’s always at this moment that the speech comes. She gets down on one knee, brushes the hair from my eyes and says, “Dumpling,” - a term of endearment I hate, “it’s not just pride in who you are as a person and being presentable to others. It’s a recognition of all of those, both family and not, who’ve come before and worked so that we may be where we are. We honor them today so that we may be honored in return for our contributions to this world.”
She gets like this. It only ramps up from here. Her speech becomes more dramatic but also more bombastic. If I hadn’t heard it my entire life than maybe it’d work. Instead she just sounds like some long-winded professor who likes to hear them speak. I guess she sounds granddad. He can get this way and that’s when he’s talking about 18th century agricultural industrialization. Why he gets so worked up over some farmers becoming more efficient I’ll never understand.
But I do get my mom - some. This means a lot to her. And it does to my sis as well. I begrudgingly go through with it and don’t fight it - for them. It’s just easier at this point to put on my uniform and be done with it. Plus it’s warm, well it keeps me warm because we will be outside for hours.
And hours. And hours. We don’t even do much anymore. Not like when we were little, but we still end up standing on the streets with everyone else for what feels like ages. My toes go cold - oh crap, I need to find my socks! They weren’t in the drawer either and they’re not hanging in the closet. Why would socks be hanging in the closet? At least mom doesn’t want me to iron them.
Fantastic. Now I can’t find two things. And mom has seen me up and moving so I can’t even play sick. She’ll demand and berate me till I’m on the street with the others and if that doesn’t work she’ll turn to wooden utensils.
My only option now is to escape. My sis has mom tied up, literally in the length of her hair. That’ll occupy her for a good 30 minutes, enough time to get far enough away that she won’t be able to check if I’m wearing it or not. Problem is they’re right next door in the bathroom. So I’ve got to be quick.
I listen to the exchange between my sister and her. My mom is clearing just nodding along, mumbling more through the hairpins and bangles held between her lips as my sis rattles on about what her and her friends have planned for today. I scoot up to the door. Peak around the jam. And jump to the other side.
I tiptoe towards the front door, hand poised to turn the handle. DONG! The doorbell rings loud and clear. I turn my head to see my mother looking out of the bathroom at me. She uses the pins in her mouth to gesture at me to open the door.
I sigh in resignation and reach for the door. On the other side stands my granddad, my costume in hand. Socks and all.
Today’s art is courtesy of Liang Mark from Cheng du, China.