the red dress

“Just wear the red one,” my sister said.

“No!” I was horrified at the thought.

Jane frowned as I handed her a cup of tea. “Why not?”

“You don't wear red on a first date.”

Jane raised an eyebrow at me. “Says who?”

“Says...Says all the dating self-help books.” We headed down the hall to my bedroom, teas in hand.

“You’ve never read a dating self-help book in your life.”

“Have to,” I lied.

“Why?”

“Because,” I wailed. “I haven’t been on a date in five billion years.”

Jane snorted. “You’re just being dramatic.”

“Not really.” I surveyed the collection of outfits on my bed. Setting my tea down on a coaster, I grabbed the offending red dress and threw it into the closet.

“Hey, that’s the top contender.” Jane marched into the closet and brought the dress back out.

“I’m going to wear this one.” I held up a high-necked, long-sleeved, black dress I’d only worn once. To a funeral.

“Sure,” Jane said, unimpressed. “If you’re going for the nun look.”

“Ugh.” I groaned and flopped into the armchair.  “Why the hell did I say yes to this stupid date?”

“Probably because you haven’t been on a date in five billion years,” Jane mocked.

“Har, har.” I dropped my head against the back of the chair. “What do you even talk about on a first date?”

Jane shrugged. “The usual stuff.” She started rearranging outfits on my bed: this shirt with those capris, that summer dress with that cardigan. “What do you do? Where are you from? Where did you go to school? That one’s usually a good one. People always have stories about their college years. Do you have any siblings? Have you—?”

“Wait, wait, wait.” I grabbed a pen and notebook from my desk, opened it to a blank page, and sat back down in my chair. I looked at Jane eagerly. “Ok, start over.”

Jane stared at me over the top of a blue camisole. “Are you serious? You’re not actually going to bring that with you on your date, are you?”

I hesitated. “Noooo.”

Her eyes narrowed like she knew I was lying—which she probably did—but she let it pass and started reciting the questions again.

“What time’s your date start, anyway?”

“We’re meeting at the restaurant at six,” I said as I tucked my notebook into my purse.

Jane finally stopped rearranging my clothes and put her hands on her hips. “What do you mean ‘we’re meeting at the restaurant’? He’s not picking you up?”

“No. I wanted to meet at the restaurant.”

Jane frowned. “Why?”

“Well, what if he turns out to be a weirdo? I don’t want him knowing where I live.”

“Were you always this paranoid and I didn’t notice or is it new?”

I thought about it as I surveyed the outfits carefully put together by my sister. “Well,” I said, as I got rid of a pair of capris, the blue camisole, and a maxi dress. “I live alone. I don’t have a security system. I have to protect myself.” I got rid of a couple of summer dresses, another pair of capris and a cardigan. Why did I own so much stuff I hated?

“It’s those self-defence classes, isn’t it? They’re messing with your head. Making you paranoid.” She pointed in the vague direction of my head.

“Making me careful,” I corrected.

“Why are you going out with this guy if you think he’s a weirdo?”

“I don’t actually know if he is or not. We work in the same building and we’ve bumped into each other a few times. He seems like a cool guy but it’s hard to tell whether or not he’ll turn out to be a weirdo based on a few brief interactions.”

Jane coughed but I heard the word “Paranoid” clearly enough. I ignored her.

I got rid of a pair of jeans, two pairs of dress pants, a couple of tops, another two dresses and was left with...the red dress.

“Ha!” Jane crowed.

I sighed. The red dress was gorgeous and flattering and I loved it, but, “Isn’t that too forward? Wearing red on a first date? Doesn’t red give off obvious I-want-to-do-you signals?”

Do you want to do him?”

“Well, yeah.” If he didn’t turn out to be a weirdo.

“Okay, then.” Jane thrust the dress at me. “Wear the red. Trust me. Guys are dense. You want him, then you’ve gotta be obvious about it.”

I was reluctant but deferred to her knowledge. She may have been younger than me, but she was married. She knew what she was talking about, right? “Okay. But if this date goes wrong, I’m blaming you.”

Copyright held by Amy Aislin

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