“The Dress” by Ashley Armstrong

“Thanks,” she said, “it used to be a sheet. I got it at a thrift store, it was only a quarter.” It was a fairly simple dress, deceptively so. But the amount of manipulation she had to do to create a dress, something shapely and wearable, made her so proud whenever anyone asked, “where’d you get that?!!”

“I made it!!!” she would answer, smiling warmly. She was especially proud of the lace shoulder straps, cut from extras she had been saving from an older project. She didn’t know how she really did it, seeing so much potential in everyday objects, seeing what could be with a little effort. She thought most people were afraid of the effort, expecting things to be ready-made and handed off to them. No one made anything anymore, and it was a skill she really valued about herself. 

She found herself constantly looking at the world and thinking, “I could make that!” So she did. Her house was an explosion of half-finished projects and crafting supplies. She would often keep things others threw away, which sometimes made people dubious. But she was the one now with a little herb garden growing out of saved tin cans. She grew as many plants as she could, saving trimmings of vegetables and fruit seeds to grow anything she could. She wove hanging planters out of old t-shirts, and had a wonderful garden hanging in the sunny side of her small apartment. Making things, she thought, was good, taught you creativity, patience, and value most of all, it taught you about your own potential, how to execute a vision you had in your head and make real. 

The dress she had started as a challenge – she had never sewn something so large, or complex. She hadn’t really followed a pattern before, but she saw it as a first step to more creations. First a dress, then, she thought, I could make my own clothes! There was a rainbow of fabric out there, raw and untapped, that she could utilize. It was so freeing to think of herself, wearing something she made, answering, “oh this? I made it.”

And it was very empowering, a wonderful feeling. She impressed herself, making her dress. It was something she got excited to wear, something she almost felt a kinship with. It was so uniquely her, made by her own hands, that it came to be almost an extension of herself. She saved wearing it for days she felt were special, deserving the dress’s presence.

One day, she thought she had stained it. A hurrying stranger spilled coffee on it, just on the bottom hem, by her knee. She thought the dress was ruined. She looked up fabric dyes and then realized – the coffee! She let it soak in gritty water until it was completely renewed, It was a new dress now, changing form yet again due to her creativity. 

{Prompt: Pick a stranger you saw today. Zoom in on one thing you noticed about them, and then using that, flush out your first impression into a character.}

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