Threads of wet hair stick to my face and my skirt is swimming upstream to my undies. I feel like Marilyn Manson on a bad hair day. Through the window it looks run down. There is a small plastic sign on the inside door that says OPEN. I push the door. Inside it’s dismal like the Chroma key has been turned down to cut out the saturated colour. I’m relieved to be inside, away from the rain and sounds of passing cars and semi-trailers.
There’s old, dank carpet. It’s filled with dirt, shedded skin cells and dead hair follicles trapped in the worn fibers, containing the DNA molecules of brides. Dresses on metal railings, an old three-blade fan making a slow circular motion spreading fine dust particles. A fluorescent light flickers to the rhythm of a fly about to die. I wonder what I’m doing here. I’d read about this place in a wedding magazine. It said despite the interior, it has a good selection of dresses.
I put my engagement ring on. It’s from Tiffany’s, in the shape of a heart littered with bead diamonds.
‘I’m looking for a wedding dress, I’m getting married,’ I tell the lady holding my hand in the air. Her face is like the cracked paint of the walls covered in foundation.
‘That’s a Soleste Heart,’ she says. ‘This lot here will suit you. Have a look through if you want.’
She doesn’t give a toss really. By the inside of the shop it looks like she’s felt like this since 1995, when I was fifteen, listening to Amy Grant on headphones and watching Neighbours.
I can tell she knows I’m a fake, that I’m not really getting married. She takes me over to a rack of dresses and leaves me, going back to the counter to sit on her stool and stare out again at Parramatta Road, a decaying urban landscape. I look at and touch the white satin, lace, pearls, going over each dress. After searching the length of the rack I pick two and go to the change room.