Short Stories / The Red Dress

The Red Dress – Chapter 11 – Louise

Louise – Chapter 11

The blood that pulsed through Louise’s body felt chilled. “I forgot my pass”. That was all that it said. More conspicuous was what the text message didn’t say. She knew that her marriage was over. David wasn’t stupid. It wasn’t because she couldn’t explain away a half packed bag, it’s that she didn’t deserve to, and therefore didn’t want to. David deserved better, someone who could appreciate his quiet steadfastness. They weren’t suited. She couldn’t bear to see the hurt in his face, the betrayal. The only consolation for David was that the state of his marriage now made sense, he was able to re-frame so many recent events in his mind with a sudden clarity, once fuzzy memories now starkly and glaringly clear. Both of them grieved the loss of their marriage but both held their hurt in different ways.

Louise moved out of the house. It was the most gracious thing that she could do under the circumstances. David hastily bought her out and she ended up buying a small 2 bed terrace in a less desirable area now that she relied upon a single wage.

Her affair with Paul had crumbled shortly after its discovery. He had driven past the house that morning, spotting the Passat on the driveway and known instinctively not to stop. Louise tried to persuade him that everything was OK, that they could continue as they were and she would simply be his mistress, but the changed dynamic had a marked shift of power. Paul was not comfortable that they both didn’t have similar stakes to lose “It only works when we’re both married sweetie” he said to her patronisingly, without a hint of depth of feeling. Louise’s eyes had reddened with both tears and rage as he had expertly backed himself out of both her doorway and her life, during the process giving away how often he had likely made this manoeuvre with others before her. She experienced her own betrayal the day he walked out of her life, and yet knew it could never equal the pain that David must have experienced on seeing her red dress lying across her bag.

Two years later, the dress still hung in her wardrobe, she considered it the spoils of the affair. She definitely wouldn’t be able to afford anything like it now, but not surprisingly, she had struggled to wear it. Every time she reached a second or third date with a suitor, she would fish it out from the back of the rail and hold it up. Sometimes she would even put it on, and admire herself in the mirror, the stress of divorce having helped her lose a half a dress size so that the fabric now draped her figure rather than pulled at it. She wanted to get back at Paul by fucking someone else in it, but she also knew the harmful anger that lay behind that sentiment, and the futility that he would never find out.

Eventually, she decided it was pointless. The sight of it would occasionally catch her unawares, dragging the caustic pain of her affair and subsequent divorce across her mind. There was no gain to be had from keeping it. One day she decided to clear out her clothes, picking up faded t-shirts, baggy jeans, ill fitting pencil skirts and too high heels, dumping them in to two bin bags that lay on her bedroom floor. She paused for a brief second as she admired the dress which hung from a suit hanger at the end of her outstretched arm. With the briefest of sighs, she stroked the fabric, turning the label over and over in her hand. Then, with a sudden movement, she shoved it roughly in to the bag, and it was done.


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