Cast of Characters
Sarah: 50s, middle-class background, college-educated, professional
Anywhere in the United States or Canada
The little black dress. “LBD” in advertising lingo. They've been pitching it to us all our lives, right? (advertising voice) “Banish all your nothing-to-wear dilemmas with the versatile staple little black dress. It has you covered whatever your plans. Opt for a sexy style or keep it simple but chic, with the little black dress you can take from day to night with ease. Easily styled up or down, the LBD is the foolproof go-to for any occasion.”
This is not the dress I secretly bought in high school because I'd read in Glamour magazine that every woman should have at least one little black dress. I so wanted to be glamorous. I must have looked at what I was: a girl playing at being a woman. I smoked my first cigarette then, to complete the picture. The next … what's her name—you know, that forties actress, husky voice. Married Bogart? Begins with “L” I think. Damn. It'll come to me ...
This is not the dress I slipped easily out of the first time I had sex. Oh, Roberto. He undid the buttons so slowly and exquisitely with his long fingers, making me shiver. Roberto, o Roberto, wherefore art thou now, Roberto? Gone, gone, long gone. Like so many things. What we remember, what we forget.
This is not what I wore to my first job interview, trying so hard: “I am diligent and super organized, my only weakness is I work too hard!” And on my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law. All those years trying to live up to someone my father would be proud of, trying to live up to my name, Sarah, which means “woman of high rank.” Always striving, never good enough. Always daydreaming some alternate, better, bolder self.
This is not the dress I tore off like a madwoman giving birth to my son. Oh, the miracle of him, his sweet milk smell, translucent eyelids, his fierce, delicate fist that grasped my finger.
This is not the dress I wore to his band concerts and baseball games, his graduation. Certainly not to his wedding, even though I knew she was not the right woman for him.
This is not the dress I had on the night I was … I won't say molested—that sounds cozy, like nested. Accosted? that sounds like the price you pay. Hurt’s too slight, injured could be accidental. Violate is closer, violet like bruises or storm clouds gathering. No, the right, the only, word is raped. One syllable, like axe or rage. But to say “I was raped” is to use the passive voice, a voice without agency. “Accidents happen.” “The glass broke.” No, he raped me. Why? (beat) Why? (pause) It happened. To me. By him. So many things I have forgotten, but this I remember. “And that's all I have to say about that.”