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by Amanda Quinn

“Good evening,” says the dress, “this is Clare.”

I’m not shocked. I’d known it was special when I plucked it from the wrong rail in Barnado’s. The colour of envy, with a nipped in waist and full skirt, cut then to be perfect for me now.

My host looks over my shoulder, but I am alone. The dress has begun to reveal that I am near 40, and was one of three girls with the same name in my primary school class.
I move into the hall, place my present on the pile with the others. The dress draws attention. Its origins are questioned. It becomes more animated. It tells my friend’s husband he looks like Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs (before he lost weight). And reveals the real reason I drink orange juice. It lets slip to one of the school gate mums that I used to smoke 40 a day and implies I have darker skills than cake baking and the sewing in of Cash’s name tapes.

I rally and tell a stranger’s daughter that I saw the Stone Roses in their heyday, but the dress interrupts, claiming that Spike Island was just teenagers and dealers and toxic dust. Ally Pally was where it had been at.

I want to be talked about but not like this. The dress is getting louder. As if it’s been drinking. A man sniggers, “like your dress,” while looking at someone else.

It begins not to matter that it’s a flattering fit, that it was such a bargain. I have made the wrong bargain. In order to have a dress that speaks for me I have a dress that speaks for me. And I don’t care for its words. I will replace it with an almost right dress. One without sleeves that forces me into a cardigan. One that only works with opaques. An almost right dress to disguise the truth. Yes. That would be best.

Amanda Quinn is a writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She writes short fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in the National Flash Fiction Day anthologies Scraps and Landmarks and in print and online magazines including Butcher’s Dog, Alliterati, After the Pause and Paper Swans. Her poem Cast Away came second in the 2014 Black Country Living Museum Poetry Competition. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaqwriter.