The Twelve-Dollar Vera Wang

A short story in three parts, inspired by a real-life trip to a thrift store and a find there that gave me the title.

rubyslippersPart 1

“A wedding?” Eva said into the phone. “Oh for God’s sake, Janey. Of all the places to invite me!”

“It’s been six weeks.” Janey sounded bracing, what Eva thought of as her buck-up-and-deal voice. “You can’t mope around after Brandon forever. And a wedding is a great place to meet people.”

“That was a movie,” Eva said. “Not real life.” She wished her phone had a cord so she could yank it out of the wall. She knew she sounded like a cranky seven-year-old, but she felt like one at the moment. God save me from well-meaning best friends. All she wanted to do was cocoon in her little apartment, spend quality time with her cats, and figure out whatever the hell stage of grief she was supposed to be at so she could wallow in it until she was damned good and ready. Janey, who usually understood her so well they were practically telepathic, was being completely dense about this.

Because she still has a fiancé, came the jealous thought. A hunk who works with disabled kids and is a goddamned saint. Abruptly, she felt ashamed of herself. It wasn’t Janey’s fault that she’d landed the best guy on the planet after years of dating men who were hung up on their exes or their mothers. The best guy next to Brandon, Eva used to think. Until Brandon got cold feet a month before their Big Day, and abruptly decided what he really wanted was to stay single and go hunting on Craigslist for lonely members of the Swedish bikini team.

Okay, so she ought to be thinking good riddance. But it hurt to realize she’d been so blind. It hurt to know the Brandon she’d loved had never existed, except as a figment of her imagination. And dammit, it hurt not to have that figment to go out with on a Saturday night. Film fests, the Green Mill jazz club, even dancing a few times at a place that played Big Band music… She lost herself in the bittersweet memories until Janey’s voice jolted her out of them.

“There’ll be dancing,” Janey said. Persuasive now, as close to wheedling as she ever got. “And no ‘YMCA’, either. Swing, Benny Goodman, that thirties and forties stuff you like. Rob and Sharon lined up Rob’s brother’s band. They’re good.”

Eva sighed inwardly. Dancing at a wedding. With Janey, no doubt, whenever hunky Alec could stand to let go of her. Or with other wallflowers who felt compelled for manners’ sake to at least look like they were having a good time. Thirty years old next Monday, and this is the best I can look forward to?

“Stop it,” Janey said, though Eva hadn’t spoken a word of her cynical thoughts. “I will guarantee you a dance with at least one good-looking, decent guy who isn’t Alec being chivalrous. What you make of it is up to you. But you’ll get one. Because I love you and you deserve it.”

Despite her grumpy mood, Eva felt warmed by that. Janey was a sweetheart, and it was ungracious of her not to appreciate it. She wondered who Janey had in mind for the “guarantee.” Not Rob’s brother—she’d met him once, he was a teddy bear, but bore an unfortunate resemblance to Lurch from the old Addams family TV show. Plus, she suspected he was gay. “I haven’t got a thing to wear,” she said, knowing it was a weak ploy. Maybe she wanted to be talked into this after all.

“So we’ll go shopping. Come by my house tomorrow at ten.”

[End Part 1]

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