Dressed (Chapter 8)
Why do we always admire the brave over the cautious? Is it better to die today then fight tomorrow? Going down with guns blazing and your head held high- that is the thing of action movies and fairy tales. I think the real heroes are those that persist. Persistence is harder. Waiting is harder. Fighting is a fit of passion and nerves, but waiting slowly wears you down until you forget what it is to not be anxious. To wait for the right moment to strike without giving up – that is what is hard. That is what’s brave
Needless to say, I have made no progress in making an escape. After the disappearance of the 500s everyone became suspicious of each other and especially other groups. Whatever goodwill or friendships that had developed with the other groups ground to a halt
“Hold still” the man behind me murmurs concentrating on my hair.
I glance in the mirror and up to the man brushing my long brown hair. I am sitting at a dressing table lined against a wall. Around me some women were chattering excitedly. Men are dressing the women’s hair, applying small amounts of makeup to their faces. We were told that Pinns preferred a women’s natural beauty by one of their teachers in a tone that could only imply that he thought it meant that Pinns were superior for it. I snort at the thought. Natural looking makeup is still makeup.
Tonight was the first social and I am so nervous I think I might be sick. I also bored by the tediousness of spending hours getting ready. These emotions don’t mix well. I smooth my sweating palms down my dress. All of the women are getting ready in one large auditorium with no windows. Changing rooms line the far wall where women try on their assigned dresses to model them for bored Pinns to approve. Along another wall lay rows of dresses of all colors on hanging on metal racks. I am sitting along a third wall in front of a hanging mirror and a little table filled with brushes and instruments for dressing hair.
I have managed to stay under the radar for the remainder of the journey of the ship. I had no more run-ins with Mr. Hertilz. My second appointment with the psychologist was uneventful. I still carry my fork which I managed to clean with some hand soap in the bathroom. The undergarments of my dress finally allowed me to tuck it in securely.
“Isn’t it nice that they dress us up before selling us to the highest bidder?” Becky comments sarcastically.
“What do you mean?” I ask turning towards her. She sits in front of a mirror next to me, lips pursed, unhappy. It’s hard not to admire her elaborate hairdo with strands weaving in and out of a French braid leading to a low bun.
“You don’t really think they are going to let you choose some handsome hunk do you?”
I glance back in the mirror. The hairdresser was curling my long hair into ringlets that softly frame my face. My red dress is tight against my breasts, covering me, but not hiding me either. It is a simple wrap dress with long sleeves and a hem that reaches the floor. In fact all of the women are wear long wrap dresses in a variety of colors.
I sigh turning back to Becky, “I honestly try not to think about it”
“Well good luck with that” Becky snaps.
“You’re done” the hairdresser states without emotion, interrupting their conversation.
I look in the mirror again. I look pretty. The red dress brings out the color of my cheeks. My blue eyes look as large as ever thanks to the neutral makeup applied by the hairdresser. The truth is I care about how I look today, I shouldn’t, but I do.
I glance around the large room. The women finished are gathering at the far end of the room in front of a small door. I sigh and get up and walk over to join them. I hear the low murmur of chatter as women comment on the clothes, the hair, the expectations.
Ana is twirling in her icy blue dress by the edge of the group.
“Isn’t it beautiful?!” she asks animatedly looking down at her dress. I smile. She looks angelic. Ana will be one of the first chosen. This thought makes my smile slowly fade.
“I’m so nervous” She confides as she stopped spinning.
I want to provide her with some words of comfort. Something to sooth her worries. I have nothing. My own worries clouding my thoughts. I give her a weak smile.
“Ivy, what are you looking for in a guy?”
I turn to Emma in a small group to my left. “Um... someone I get along with I guess. You?” By get along with I mean someone who won’t hit me or something. God knows what these Pinns get up to in their own homes. My imagination for the past week as run wild between being forced with a drunken idiot who rapes me and a handsome stranger that sweeps me off my feet. My imagination acknowledges no possibility of something in between.
“Tall, dark, handsome with a big wallet to match” she half-jokes.
“I think it could be romantic to meet someone at a dance- be wooed under the candle light.” Ava replies dreamily as she joins the group.
“Your forgetting the forced part” one of the women snarks.
“I heard one of the women say that you’ll know if a Pinn is wealthy by how long the gold chain is” someone else pipes in.
“How would she know that?”
“Females! Females!” An elderly Pinn which we had come to recognize as having some sort of managerial role calls herding us over towards the door. “It’s time!”
The small door opens and the women slowly and quietly file through. Oh god oh god. I tremble as I am slowly pushed towards the door by the mass of women. I feel someone grab my hand. I turn to see Becky. She proudly looked ahead, but her palm which gripes mine is sweaty. I try desperately to calm myself. I can’t let myself hyperventilate. Why? I don’t know. Why do I care what anyone through that door thinks? But I do. I hate it but I do.