Short Stories / The Red Dress

The Red Dress – Catherine – Chapter 7

Catherine – Chapter 7

The trauma of ‘hey-gate’, as Catherine had taken to calling it during her internal monologue, seemed to have passed without major incident. In fact, Ben now actually knew who she was and had taken to jokily, she hoped, shouting “Hey!” at her when she went to the water cooler, a trip across the office that she now made a lot more regularly and was feeling much better for the increased hydration.

Conversation around the company birthday party was nearing fever pitch. They were now only 7 days from the Friday evening where a trendy local gin bar was to host all staff and another 30 important client contacts for the evening. In a clever piece of PR spin, Naked Media had also managed to wangle PR coverage of the party in a couple of weekly glossy mags, including Grazia, thanks to a number of high profile guests.

She could hear the girls talking about which designers they were going to wear, everyone dancing a fine line between getting their outfit enough verbal coverage to garner interest, but not actually wanting to give away the surprise. The background hum of name dropping and discussion around the latest ‘It’ evening bag only made Catherine feel more anxious. She still hadn’t locked down her dress and precious time was running out.

The flirting with Ben seemed to have died down, and Catherine suspected it was merely the quiet before the storm that was the Birthday Party, so it was even more important to wear something show stopping. She knew she scrubbed up well and was hoping for one of those ‘transformation’ type stories that you see in lazy Hollywood rom-coms starring Freddie Prinze Jr and a now unknown actress. The shock of the difference would hopefully wildly out leverage Olivia’s “thigh-high split, but I’m not telling you which designer”, or Charlotte’s “tits, tits, tits dahling, but I’m not telling you what colour” floor length number.

Catherine had bemoaned her problem the evening before to what she presumed was a bored sounding Harriet, but to her surprise, Harriet had offered a possible solution. “We get dresses returned all the time” Harriet had said “Usually we offer them to our Portobello store, a ‘vintage’ boutique,” she continued, wrapping an airborne curl of her fingers around the word ‘vintage’, “but I could put a couple aside for you to try if you like? I mean, you’ll have to not spill anything down it, or get it dry cleaned if you do, but most of them come back well worn anyway, we just take a bit of discount off the new item they’re buying so we get quite a few back. You’re an 8 yeah?” Catherine was not sure if the hand gesture meant that vintage was a stretch, and most of the dresses were fairly recent purchases, or that Harriet simply couldn’t abide second hand clothing. Either way, she felt she could not quite trust Harriet’s intentions, a notion that made her feel instantly guilty. She decided to outwardly commit to the idea, but also quietly continue her search, lest Harriet looked out 3 shiny 80’s bridesmaid’s dresses from a forgotten society wedding as a form of entertainment for her and Stephanie to titter over later.

Catherine dragged her attention back to her work station for a brief minute, before staring once again at the clock. Tomorrow, she would go shopping, and she had a last desperate high street attempt tomorrow before taking up Harriet’s offer. Her mother’s infamous words of “what’s for ye won’t go by ye” playing around over and over in her head in a gritty northern accent which she took as sign that tomorrow was going to be a success, rather than her attraction to Ben was an ill fated exercise bound to end in disaster.


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