Bodysnatchers

I was assigned to the room upstairs, tiny, poorly-lit and packed with women, all of them taller, thinner, and sharper than me. The tallest wiped her bangs to the side and screamed over the sweating fleshy mass, “Models. Strip down to your thongs,” and shoved an outfit on hangers and a paper bag at me. “You. Dress her.” An emaciated girl stepped forward, little half-moon breasts and ribs and taught skin over bones waiting for me to dress. I’ve never dressed anyone but myself. I flushed with embarrassment and swallowed. The model actually looked apologetic. “Why don’t you just hold the hangers,” she offered. I held up the hangers draped with sequined black cloth like a shield, until my arm ached, other naked models bumping into me, smacking into the clothes, the scent of hairspray and chemicals gathering like hormonal haze, choking me, and I felt helpless and childish. I was breathing too fast; my chest hurt. I knew I was older than the models, but they towered above me, speaking to one another in deep, guttural Norwegian code. The smell stung my eyes. I dropped the hangers and left the room, pushing through sharp elbows and hipbones and running down the stairs through the party, into the bathroom, closing myself off in a stall with a mirrored door. It was too late. I watched in horror as the tears gathered and fell, dragging dirty lines of makeup down my cheeks. I was just another casualty of fashion week, just a body in a hit and run.

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