Do not iron on print

by | May 4, 2009 | Stories | 0 comments

SALE!!! SALE!!! 75% OFF!!
The large red signs cover the store. Everywhere I turn, I see red. I look down and stare at my hands. I still see red.

I sit, while clothes, shoes and jewellery enclose me. In this obstacle of vanity, I observe people of all ranges. I see a man. He reaches for a t-shirt on a high shelf. As he swings his swollen, damp arm, he accidentally hits a woman. The woman stumbles to the ground. Oddly, she reminds me of my mother.

Then, I see it perched. Coated with fingerprints, it mocks its competitors with their reflections and brings about barriers that can only cause more turmoil. Oh Lord, how should I endeavour the pursuit of perfection? Ha! I will not allow it. Driven by my imagination, I will exist as my own, because here, this reality, I will fail- I will fail the fight against vanity…like my stepfather. He scrutinizes a rack filled with t-shirts embellished with quirky comments. He grabs a shirt that reads, “Always read the fine print”, chuckles hoarsely and walks off. Clearly consumed in my thoughts, I whisper, “Daddy”. The word introduces itself in my mouth like vomit. To this day, I struggle to say the word “Daddy”. It has been nine years.

I hear the annoying, beeping sound of the scanner. I close my eyes. Suddenly, my imagination takes me to the past. I am sitting next to my mother as she lies on a hospital bed. The beeping sound continues to ring in my ears.

I stare dauntingly at the individuals who scuttle from one aisle to the next. They all seem to be at ease as they investigate the latest trends. While I observe them, I make critical conjectures based only on a stereotypical view. Then, with a sudden realization, I shudder…do I not then share a characteristic with a man that has brought nothing but odium into a household that was once content? I rush with my terrifying thoughts into a fitting room. As I turn the lock, it makes a familiar sound that I shall now always associate with entrapment, fear and helplessness -rather then security, safety and privacy. Now I wonder if I will ever grow out of this resentment. Will I ever forgive?

I stare at the features of my stepfather as he adds another shirt to his collection of items that reads, “But perfection doesn’t need changing”, and rather than pity him for obeying narcissistic restrictions that enforce acceptance, I laugh. I laugh because I know that that daunting whisper of time will rip his ego.

I see a young girl, her teeth are fixed with metal, and I sense a sadness in her eyes that seems strangely apposite. The girl reaches for a t-shirt that reads, “Stand back girl and watch your boyfriend stare.” Accordingly, and to avoid disobeying the “tenet”, the girl wraps the shirt around her arm, trying to hide the large price tags that so mockingly reads XXL. I notice a bold sticker on the t-shirt, “DO NOT IRON ON PRINT” it reads. Suddenly, I am conquered by my thoughts, creating analyses that draw towards why this young girl’s sadness seems so oddly appropriate. I think of how people hide themselves behind perceptions, expectations, lies and even clothing. I dream about what would happen if someone actually did iron on the print. I imagine the ink crumbling as a few letters fade away. The shirt that once read, “Stand back girl and watch your boyfriend stare” would have a few missing letters…
Stand back girl and watch your boyfriend stare,
Now the shirt would only read, G L U Y

And the shirt that reads:
But, perfection doesn’t need changing.
Would read, B U R E S A

I read the shirts that my stepfather bought. He has an infatuation with himself, but behind his ego lies an existence that can only be said to be unfamiliar to the person he portrays. I think of the day my mother married him. Her friends warned her, but she was so consumed in this man’s false perfection, that she failed to iron on the print. The abhorrence within me emerges like the taste of the word “Daddy”, as my thoughts venture into the past: Ten years ago when I loved him…nine years ago when I began hating him. Then, my thoughts shift into the present, discarding the acrid taste of that memory.

Sometimes those shirts can hide how you really feel…

…or who you really are…

…or they can simply be a bit ironic…
“Always read the fine print.”


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