The $4,000 Dress

May 1, 2008
By Jenny Wang, Wallingford, CT

The tomato soup gave off a sweet aroma as it started to bubble. Jamie stuck her head over the open pot and let the scented steam warm her face. She stirred the scalding hot concoction with her wooden spatula and licked the edge. She scrunched up her brow and decided that it needed more salt and pepper. Her second tasting satisfied her enough, so she turned off the fire and let it sit. Tessa walked in and turned on the television to CNN.

“How’s the soup going?”

“It’s fine; it might need a bit more salt.”

“Can I try some?

Jamie nodded as Tessa hopped off the island stool and scooped a spoonful into her mouth.

“Oh!” She immediately jerked her head back, “it’s hot.”

“I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you.”

“My tongue is numb, I think. Is it red?” She stuck out her tongue until the other confirmed that it was fine.

“Things are usually hot on the stove.”

“I didn’t realize it’d burn my tongue through.”

“I can put ice in yours, if you want.”

“No, that’s fine.”

Jamie vacantly stared at the flickering television. That British reporter she really loved was in Iraq, covering a story about some suicide bombing. The woman looked like she had everything she ever wanted, a thirty-some year-old journalist who grew up chasing a dream to be the top reporter in her field. Her husband was probably an archeology major who was currently digging ancient bones in Cambodia; they were definitely college sweethearts. They must’ve spent countless hours at night discussing the lost history of the Mayan temples or their mission to save the world from world hunger. True soul mates. Jamie looked at the woman’s windblown hair and rolled up sleeves; she was elegant, fierce, independent.

“You need to learn how to cook.”

“I cook. I make a mean spaghetti.”

“You can’t make spaghetti every night, especially if you use that cheap Campbell sauce. Do you know how much sodium is in that?”

“No. How much?” Tessa asked as she flipped through a magazine on the counter.

“Enough to give someone a heart attack.”

“Well, I’ll just order then.”

“Don’t be so inconsiderate. That’s not healthy for someone who has high blood pressure.”

“Who has high blood pressure?”

Jamie turned around.
“I can’t believe you’re not even pretending to care.”
“What? I’m fine. Oh, that’s beautiful!” Tessa suddenly pointed to an ivory dress in the magazine.

Jamie leaned over and saw a waif-like model encased in an ivory gown that looked like it weighed a ton.

“That’s exactly how I want it.” Tessa breathed, “Who is the designer anyway? Christ, it costs, like, $4,000. But isn’t it absolutely amazing? You’d say it was worth it, right?”

“No, I wouldn’t. It’s a waste of money.”
“How can you say that? It’s perfect and I’m getting it.”
“Go ahead. You’re acting as if I’m stopping you.”
Tessa folded her magazine over and leaned over on the counter.
“I’m not mean, you know.”
“I didn’t say you were.”
Tessa sighed, “Okay, what about your dress? Have you tried it on with that tailor?”
“Well, how are you going to know if it’s going to fit?”
“You’re worried about how you think I’ll look? If you’re so concerned, you should go try it on, since we’re practically the same size, anyway. Well, your breasts are probably bigger.”
“That’s not true. You’re just skinnier.”
“Well, yippy-doo. You’re still younger.”
“No, I’m not.”
“What year were you?
“In college?”
“I rest my case.”
They both turned to the television just as the news segment ended. A pink butt rose from the bottom of the screen, which soon revealed itself to be the plump bottom of a picture-perfect baby. The ad was for Pampers Diapers.
“I’d like to have that one day.” Tessa sighed.
“Please, you don’t know s*** about motherhood.”
Jamie turned back towards the soup, which was now very much cooled. She took out three bowls from the cupboard and set them on the table behind her. She fumbled through the silverware drawer and found some forks, spoons, and knives. She placed them in front of Tessa.
“Help set up,” Jamie said.
“Say please.”
“Does it matter? You need to get used to this.”
“I already have. Maybe you should, too.”
“The maid doesn’t count.”
“You don’t know me, so stop judging me.”
“I know what you don’t know, what you don’t care to know,” Jamie turned back to the stove, “let’s have a quiz. Favorite food?”
“Tomato soup. Tomato soup, tomato soup, tomato soup. My mother’s specialty. That was even an easy one.”
“There’s also high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which I think you should be aware about, before you kill someone. That would be too convenient.”
“What the hell are you suggesting?”
“Don’t play dumb with me; you’re too predictable. You’re like a... caricature.”
“Don’t be a --”

“Sass. You know, you’re making this really hard for yourself. We don’t have to be enemies. We’re all adults here.”

“Then be one. This whole… thing is ridiculous. I see right through you, so don’t try to hide the fact that the only thing in your eyes is green.”

“My eyes are blue.”

“God, you are such an idiot.”

“What do you want from me? What do you want me to do? You’re making me out to be some warped up manipulative wench. I’m not. My intentions, if that’s what you’re so worried about, are pure and true.”

“Then prove it. Prove me wrong.”


“I don’t know, how about buying that dress with your own f***ing money for a start?”
“Fine! I’ll find something else… less.”

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