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Bonzer Words!: About The Carnival

...'Well, you certainly do the dress justice. It looks totally different on you from the other lady who bought the larger size.'...

Annitells a tale of double-dealing.

'I just found this,' the sales girl called, over the top of the half door of the fitting room. 'A woman tried it this morning but she needed a larger size and this one had not been put back on the rack. Would you like to try it?'

Sue opened the door slightly and was confronted by an haute couture dress of amazing blueness.

'Now thatís just stunning,' said Sue. 'I hope it fits.'

The fitting room was stuffy, claustrophobic and she was tired from the effort of pulling tops and dresses over her head. Her thick black hair was coming loose from the coil at the nape of her neck and damp wispy curls were plastered to her forehead. A headache was preparing an invasion into her skull, ready to declare a state of war in her frontal lobe. Sue scrabbled through her handbag, found the foil strip of analgesics, popped two into her mouth and took a swig of the lukewarm water from her bottle.

Kill it before it takes prisoners she thought. Now, letís have a look at this dress.

The clothes she had tried on were haphazardly hung on coat hangers. Either the colours were all wrong, or she looked frumpy, or the cut of the garment was not to her liking. Sue removed her bra, undid the concealed side zipper and pulled the dress over her head. She slid the zipper closed and turned to face the mirror.

Sue gasped as her reflection sparkled back at her. The varying colours of blue were as translucent as the sea itself. In some places it was as though some invisible hand had deliberately dropped teaspoons of aquamarine liquid magic onto the silk and streaked the curling wavelike hemline with narrow strips of indigo. The skirt of the dress was cut on the bias of the silk in contrast to the bodice which clung to her upper body accentuating her small waist and firm breasts and the thin straps were almost invisible in their delicateness.

But it was the skirt which flowed around her mid calves in a whisper of waves which moved with sensuous stealth across her skin, it was the skirt which made her feel as though she was formed for this garment not the dress cut and sewn for her.

The girl returned and pushed the door slightly ajar. 'How does it fit? Would you like to come out and have a look in a larger mirror?'

Sue came out of the fitting room and tiptoed her way toward a large mirror. 'I just love it. I absolutely have to have it. Itís the most beautiful dress I have ever seen.'

'Well, you certainly do the dress justice. It looks totally different on you from the other lady who bought the larger size.'

Sue looked at her rear reflection, stood on tip toes, turned sideways, pulled her hair free and shook it loose and in sheer abandonment she twirled, arms held out from her body as she danced to the music which the beauty of the dress aroused in her.

'Iíll take it.' Sue giggled. 'Donít care about the price. I really donít. I love it!'

The sales attendant laughed along with her.

Back inside the fitting room she retrieved her work clothes, dressed, secured her hair into a tighter clipped coil, picked up her handbag, put the dress over her arm and headed for the sales counter. It was cool away from the fitting rooms and the impending headache had retreated. The sales girl took the dress, scanned the price tag, ran her credit card through the machine and whilst waiting for the transaction to go through she wrapped the dress in tissue paper and placed it into the big bag with the shop logo. 'You wonít need any bling with this dress. The colours are absolutely stand alone donít you think?'

'Definitely not! Just high strappy shoes and Iíll be the Belle of the Ball. Thanks,' laughed Sue.

As she walked back to her Legal Office she recalled the tone of annoyance in Mickís voice as he called to her from the front door earlier this morning just as she turned the ignition key and adjusted her seatbelt ready to drive to her legal office in the city. 'Hey Sue! You havenít forgotten about tomorrow night have you?' he called.

She opened her window and called back, 'Whatís tomorrow night?'

'I knew you would forget Ö The Carnival! The dinner at the Conservatory! Typical. I just knew that if it wasnít something you wanted to go to, you wouldnít make the effort.'

Mickís voice rose. Annoyance replaced by anger.

'I asked you to buy something other than your gym clothes or your bloody business suits. Get something that isnít black, something dressy. How hard would that be? We can afford it. Itís the end of the year dinner party for the Conservatory Music Carnival. Could you make an effort this time to look like a wife and not some sort of prison governor? '

'Oh get over it Mick. Youíre screaming at the top of your voice, not a good look for Mr. Professor is it? Iíll leave the office during my lunch break. Itís no big deal.' she replied and then, in a conciliatory tone, 'The hairdresser is open on Saturday mornings, so Iíll call as soon as I get to work and make an appointment.'

Mick walked toward her car. He was certainly not placated, in fact he was furious. 'Look Sue. Iím just about over this. All you ever do is think about your job and your associates. Last year you arrived over an hour late, dressed in your bloody work clothes and you looked bored witless from beginning to end.' He wasnít shouting now. His voice was low but icy. 'Could you make an effort this time please? Spend $500, spend more if you need to. It isnít as though you donít have the money to buy whatever you need.' He turned on his heel and walked back into the house and slammed the front door.

She said to herself in a low voice, 'You could have reminded me last night, but oh no! You have to make a song and dance about it at six thirty in the bloody morning. And yes I can afford it; I earn more than you! I work too, you know.'

Sue reversed and backed out onto the road, fastened her seat belt and drove off. Oh God. Iíll have to stand around for an hour drinking their awful sparkling wine and listening to them waffle on about funding, and their bloody gifted students, she thought. Thereíll be the fat piano tutor creep with the bad breath who gets right into my space. I have to dress up for a bunch of morons, drink their cheap wine and try to choose something remotely edible from a menu that hasnít changed for eight years.

They werenít always so unkind to each other. Once, not so long ago they laughed together, enjoyed each otherís company and now the bickering seemed to be a constant thing. How long ago did they speak of their plans to have a child? Maybe she should talk with Mick and make plans to start a family. They had travelled. They were financially well off. Maybe now was the right time.

'Iíll talk to Mick after dinner,' she said softly to herself. 'After dinner, accompanied by a bottle of good wine to put us in the mood.'

She meant to call Mick but things became hectic in the office and then all of a sudden it was time to leave and head home. Oh well, she had the dress and the appointment had been made for the hairdresser in the morning. Sue smiled when she thought of the price tag. Maybe her next shopping trip would be for maternity clothes. This maybe a good thing. A baby!

On the way home she pulled into a parking space outside the supermarket. There was tonightís dinner to prepare and Mick wouldnít be home for a couple of hours, Sue decided to buy something special for dinner. Somewhere in between the imported cheeses and the avocados she became aware of somebody watching her and as she turned she saw a vaguely familiar face. Where do I know her from she wondered.

The woman was approximately the same height as herself, she had very short, dark curly hair and she wore rimless glasses. They made eye contact and immediately the woman turned and walked quickly away. Sue continued her shopping with a fleeting, vaguely puzzling thought as to where she knew the woman from but decided not to dwell on it. There was no sign of the woman in the car park when she entered her car. She turned on the radio and listened to a drive time station announcer yelling at a talk back caller and forgot about the incident.

She took the new dress upstairs to the walk in wardrobe then changed her mind and went into the spare bedroom, took the dress from the bag and hung it in the virtually empty wardrobe. There was little chance of it becoming crushed in the spacious cupboards; she folded the bag and placed it on the top shelf with other bags she the thought may come in useful.

Downstairs, with a glass of chilled white wine nearby, Sue turned on the television and watched the evening news. Mick was obviously going to be late and all of a sudden she felt quite hungry. She ate her meal in front of the TV and left Mickís meal on the table. She was tired and angry at his thoughtlessness. There had been no phone call and she was not inclined to call him. She had her shower and went to bed.

When she awoke the next morning, Mick was already downstairs. She had a quick shower, changed into some
shorts and a casual shirt and made the bed. As she straightened the bedspread a piece of paper caught her eye as it floated to the floor. She picked it up and glanced at it briefly. It was a transaction receipt for the dress she had bought yesterday.

Sue placed it in her bedside drawer. Iím sure I put this into my purse, she thought. She was running late and needed to leave now to be on time for her appointment with the hairdresser. As she reached the bottom of the stairs she heard Mick in the kitchen .'Iím going now.' she called to him, 'I have to be at the hairdresser at 10. Did you enjoy your dinner?'

'Yeah! Sorry I was so late. By the way, would you mind if I met you at the Conservatory Dining Room tonight? They need me there earlier this afternoon to help with seating arrangements and finalising all the awards. Iíll change at Samís place,' he said in brusque tone of voice.

'Fine.' she replied. Then she walked into the kitchen and spoke softly to his back. 'Actually we need to talk Mick. Itís about me and work and Ö well just things we need to talk about.'

He turned around to face her. A strange look of puzzlement, no, something else Ö surprise, crossed his face. He opened his mouth to speak but she held up her hand and stopped him.

'Iíll see you at the dinner tonight. Once thatís over weíll have that talk,' she said gently as she placed a soft kiss on his cheek, turned on her heel and left him standing, mouth ajar in the middle of the kitchen.

When she arrived at the salon and drove into a parking space at the front, she suddenly realised that her hands were clenched tightly on the steering wheel. Somehow she felt excitement course through her. She took her handbag, locked the car and entered the salon.

'Hi Sue. Gee! I think a coffee is what you need,' said Fran, her hairdresser. 'You grab a seat and Iíll get the coffee. Be right back.'

She sat down in front of the huge wall of mirrors which reflected her image from all sides. Slowly she started
to relax every muscle in her body and when Fran arrived with the coffee she accepted it gratefully.

'Now,' said Fran, 'what are we doing today. Foils and a trim?'

Sue took a long look at herself in the mirror placed her coffee cup on the bench and as Fran fastened the plastic cover around her shoulders and spread out her thick long hair, she made a decision.'Cut it short.'

'Short! Are you sure?' asked Fran. 'You know what happens when your hair is short. It goes into really tight curls.'

'Yep! Iím sure. Nice and short. Curly is good because I will just have to wash it and let it dry naturally.'

'Ok, youíre the boss, Shirley Temple!' replied Fran. Fran took her time snipping away at Sue's long hair, occasionally spraying water through and slowly shaping and recreating her whole appearance. When her hair was finally cut and roughly blow waved, the person looking back at her from the mirror was amazingly different and yet comfortably familiar. She looked more carefree, almost young again. The manicurist went to work on her nails. Sue left the salon feeling more relaxed than when she had left home. She had some lunch in a small cafť and then headed back to her car.

At home, the house was quiet and cool. The air conditioner droned quietly as Sue sat in a chair near the windows which looked out over the shaded calmness of the garden and reflected on the last two days events. She must have slept for two hours and when she awoke she did so with a sense of alarm. After checking the clock she realised there was plenty of time to have her shower, apply her make-up, dress and drive to the Conservatory dining hall. In fact, she decided to leave earlier than necessary and maybe she would be able to help Mick with any incidental chores. That should soothe him she thought and earn her some Brownie points for the talk later that evening.

As she walked up the pathway to the hall she was aware that a number of people had already arrived and were gathered around in the foyer, drinks in hand. She entered the hall and looked around for Mick. He appeared suddenly from somewhere at the rear of the foyer and when he saw her standing there, with the light from the main doors behind her, he looked perplexed. He turned his head back to where he had just come from and then once more he looked straight back at her. She smiled over at him and gave him a wave of her hand.

It was as she walked toward him she sensed that everybody in the room was looking at her, the hum of conversations stopped and everything began to wind down into slow motion. Mick was staring at her in bewilderment, frowning deeply. Why does he look so strange? He looks as though heís seen a ghost, thought Sue.

Then a woman stood in front of Mick and spoke to him. Mick leaned toward her and said something to her. The woman turned and faced Sue. It was the woman from the supermarket! She was wearing exactly the same blue dress as Sue. With her short curly hair, no glasses, and the blue dress it would be so easy to mistake her for Sue. The woman rested her hand on Mickís arm with a possessive familiarity. That one gesture spoke a thousand words and only a fool would not recognise it for what it was. They were an item, this woman and Mick!

She heard Mick call her name as she turned away and walked back toward the entrance. There was a loud drumming noise inside her head similar to wave after wave crashing against rocks and her heart was racing, but she kept walking.
Somehow, she found her car and drove away from the Conservatory. The wind flapped the Carnival of Music flags snapping them to attention. Almost a kilometer from the house Sue pulled the car over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. Her head was full of questions and her mind was racing. And suddenly she knew! She knew who the woman who wore the same blue dress was. It was the librarian from the Music Library. Sam something or other.

And it all began to make sense.

'Iíll get changed at Samís,' Mick had said this morning. Sue had assumed that Sam was a man. It wasnít exactly a lie on Mickís behalf.

She turned the ignition back on. As she neared the house she suddenly thought of something else and she sped up anxious to get home.

Once inside she ran up the stairs to the bedroom and opened the bedside drawer. She took out the receipt she
had placed there earlier that morning and read it in detail. It was for exactly the same amount of money, from
the same shop and the same surname; but not her initial. This receipt was made out to somebody with the initial! M. Mick! Michael! Holding the receipt she went to the spare bedroom and took down the bag from the top shelf.

Yes! There it was right in the fold at the bottom of the bag. It was her receipt for the blue dress. The blue dress! Which she was wearing at this very moment.

His words echoed through the silent house Ö'Could you make an effort this time if it is too much trouble, spend $500 spend more if you need to.' Well, he was certainly prepared to spend more than $500 on the librarian for the end of the Music Carnival dinner.

Sue went downstairs and took the yellow pages phone directory from the shelf, looked through the Business Index found the listing for locksmiths and dialed the number.

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