Separated limbs

Mannequin limbs waiting to be assembled, UK 2015 © Tanya Clarke

Mannequin limbs waiting to be assembled, UK 2015 © Tanya Clarke

Writing Prompt No. 62

Lilian stared at the pieces of mannequin spread out on the table in front of her.

They were exactly what she needed for her self-built companion. Two hands. Two arms. She’d been searching for many weeks for the perfect limbs and there they were right in front of her.

She looked up and around. There was a sales-assistant folding clothes. Unfolding and folding creating a neat perfect pile of pale blue Angora mix sweaters. The sales-assistant rubbed the end of her nose. Fine hairs from the sweaters were shedding and drifting in the air. She sneezed. Lilian was glad to see that she had a tissue.

Further to her left, Lilian caught sight of another customer who was holding a dress up to her body. She turned from side to side in front of a long mirror. Lilian thought the colour didn't suit her.

It was 10 o’clock on a Monday morning. There were very few people about.

Lilian unfolded a large holdall that she carried with her. Just in case. She stood in front of the table and put down her bag and started to push her hands around the bag as if trying to find her purse. She was making space for the limbs.

“Can I help you?” The voice startled Lilian. She put her hand to her chest and breathed in and out to calm her shaking body. The voice belonged to the sales-assistant with the Angora allergy. She was smiling at Lilian.

“No. Of course. No. Thank you. I’m browsing. Just. Yes. I mean, no. Thank you.”

The sales assistant nodded.

“Let me know if you need anything.”

Lilian nodded a thank-you before returning to her thoughts. She needed hair. Oh, and a head. She'd forgotten that. Lilian collected the limbs from the table laying them in her holdall before hurrying after the sales-assistant.

“Excuse me,” Lilian called after her breathing heavily with nerves more than anything.

The sales-assistant turned towards Lilian.

“I was wondering. I need a head. A head and hair actually. For my companion."

The sales assistant was staring wide-eyed.

“Hello?” Lilian stood waiting for the woman’s reply. For a moment she thought the woman might sneeze again. But the woman was staring at Lilian’s bag. Lilian looked down. The two arms were fighting with each other in an effort to pull themselves out of her bag.

“Oh dear,” said Lilian just as the young sales assistant with the Angora allergy dropped to the floor with fright. "I’m so sorry. They do this sometimes."

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