You may have heard that Vera Wang released her latest bridal collection recently, and with it a short film intended to showcase the dresses. If you haven’t seen the film, here it is:
Um… so apparently “zombie vampire warehouse flamenco” is the new hot wedding aesthetic. Who knew?
As indubitably creepy as this video is, though, the Gothic-fiction nerd in me saw a story in it. So I wrote that story:
Things go missing from the trash sometimes. The intern notices it when it’s her turn to carry out the scraps from the day’s work, which it always is. She shoulders open the back door, wincing at the industrial squeal of the hinges, and tosses two bags full of tulle and ribbons and other pretty scraps into the dumpster.
The bags hit the bottom of the dumpster with a muffled clang, and she pauses.
This isn’t the first time she’s found an almost-empty dumpster once filled to the lip with fabric rejects, when the trash collectors weren’t due for another day. She peers over the edge and sees ripped black garbage bags, again. The tiniest pieces, the ribbon chunks frayed from cutting and the silk snippets no bigger than her thumbnail, are scattered across the bottom of the dumpster like down feathers from an exploded pillow.
No, this isn’t the first time she’s found this. But she still shivers when she hears a skittering across the alleyway and a susurrus from the disused warehouse next door. She pulls her dark coat tightly around herself as she stalks back inside, swearing as she does every day that she’ll get someone else to take the trash out tomorrow.
He stumbles a little as he walks, still disoriented from the past fifteen minutes – El Mondo’s Bar, the girl in the back room, enough tequila to make it seem like a great idea. But his phone is ringing – his real phone, not the burner – and after stabbing the screen with a grimy finger a few times, he hits the green answer button. “Yeah, honey, ‘m okay,” he says. “Not finished negotiatin’ the deal yet. I’ll be home soon. Yeah. Love ya.” The great thing about a Brooklyn accent, he muses as he stabs the screen a couple more times and finally hangs up, is that it’s hard to tell over the phone whether you’re drunk or just from Brooklyn. He tugs the burner out of his other pocket. He probably bought himself a couple hours before he has to be back home. That’s enough time for Suzy – man, that’s enough time for five Suzys. He might even be able to get Linda on the way back home.
He finally scrolls all the way down to Suzy’s name and, miraculously, hits the call button on the second try. Suzy’s phone rings once, twice-
“You look like you want a little something.”
For a moment, he’s barely sure he heard the voice at all. It was so thin, so light, that it could well have been his imagination. But no, a woman is standing in a doorway ten feet off and staring at him as if she knows him. A girl, he corrects himself. She’s too waifishly thin to count as a woman.
“How do you know?” he says hoarsely, trying to shake his tongue loose from the tequila. Suzy’s phone rings another time in his ear.
The girl doesn’t smile. She barely even moves her mouth as she replies, “I just know. Isn’t that enough?”
She’s wearing white. Sheer white lace, specifically, that barely covers what little torso she has. Large scraps of tulle with jagged edges drape from the bottom of the lace, grazing the filthy step on which she stands. The beige paint in the doorway around her may have been smooth and new once, but now it’s flaked off the building in spots, leaving bare concrete patches the size of his ear. It’s a contradiction, he knows. Something here doesn’t belong.
Ring. Ri- “Hey. That you?”
He stares at the girl, his eyes raking down the lace. “You want something?” she repeats.
“Oh my God, are you drunk again, you-“
His fingers slacken, and the phone slips from his hand. The thwack it makes on the sidewalk might startle him if he weren’t so drunk on the tequila and this girl.
“Yeah,” he replies, his throat burning. “Yeah, I want something.”
They prick their fingers a lot as they sew the new fabric onto their dresses. It doesn’t bother them anymore – they stopped bleeding a long time ago. The ones who still have the energy for it spend their days practicing for the dances they always wished they’d have, heels clacking first on splintered old wood and then on concrete, elbows floating in the air as if they expect strong fingers to wrap around them at any moment. The rest of them lounge and loll in bathtubs and broken chairs and whatever else this old place has to offer, waiting for the next one to come too close to their doorstep.
When the youngest of them finally snags one – a repeat offender, the tequila stench of his breath tells them, got more commitment issues than you could count on one hand – they sniff the air like old bloodhounds and get to their feet, tottering as if they don’t quite know how their bones work anymore. It’s been so long. They’re starving.
But they’ll eat well tonight. They might even feel a little tequila burn, if they’re lucky. And even after they’ve finished with him, their dresses will still be gleaming, pristine – white as the day they first wore them.