Short Stories / The Red Dress

The Red Dress – Chapter 6 – Louise

Chapter 6 – Louise

Louise received a text message from the courier stating her parcel was to arrive between 9:00 and 11:00. She’d known it wouldn’t come next day, and Sunday was a no go, but Monday felt too close to her deadline despite it being her only option. She was jittery all morning, from coffee, through to commute, to sitting at her desk watching the minutes pass by unbearably slowly.

Her gift from Paul on Friday had been exquisite as promised. She’d headed in to the toilets in the foyer so she could examine the dress in private knowing that she would temporarily need to hide it in her car rather than try and sneak it in to the house. It was a mid thigh mini by Camilla, a brand she wouldn’t ordinarily afford, and she’d noted it was from the current collection which meant it had cost so much that she would have to keep it forever hidden for fear of rousing suspicion.

A notion that it was too young for her had briefly flickered across her thoughts as she studied the luxurious off the shoulder detail; “legs and shoulders?” she had wondered to herself, before dismissing it. Paul made her feel young again, or more accurately, made her feel alive. She didn’t yearn for youth, he being older than her anyway, and older than David for that matter, but he also made her feel like the rules no longer applied. She could wear what she wanted with no regard for any attention it drew. Thick folds of fabric across the bust made her look more curvaceous, and her slim legs could carry off dresses above the knee in a way that most women gave up on once they turned 33.

She returned her attention to the missing parcel she had ordered on Friday. It was now 11:30 and she decided she couldn’t risk another call to the already testy receptionist. A thought suddenly struck her, a memory of rushing through the transaction: “What was the delivery address?”

She scanned her email inbox in haste, searching for a subject header containing ‘order confirmation’. Her cursor cast quickly over the contents, before settling on an email, a double click flicking the email open in full screen size across her monitor. She hastily reduced the size, checking over her shoulder that no one was able to read the contents. As usual, no one was paying her any attention and her hyper paranoid state suddenly made her feel extremely visible, a self fulfilling prophecy of jerkily suspect movements. Scanning the email, her eyes moved straight to the delivery address: her home address. “Fuck” she cursed under her breath, again swiveling her head to check whether anyone had overheard her uncharacteristic swearing. “Double fuck” she thought as she realised that, not only was she going to have to collect this from the Post Office depot when it opened first thing on Tuesday, hoping that she could get there and back before Paul arrived to pick her up, but also that David was working from home today, as he always did in advance of a trip away which took him away from home. She remembered his suggestion that he needed to ‘nip out’ this morning and hoped against all hope that the parcel had arrived when he was out. He wasn’t the kind of person to open another person’s mail, she reasoned, but she suspected he would show interest regardless. She spent the rest of the day unable to eat, feeling a far away feeling of dread that she was unaccustomed to and practicing her lines for the twenty easily imaginable scenarios that could greet her on her return home.

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