Lace enticed Zuleikha.
The neat trim of this hot pink lace sealed the deal.
Plus, the sale price. What other incentive did she need?
As she had trailed the shopping centre’s squeaky esplanade, the booming music’s
vibrations reached her shoes. That was the moment her internal strife set off, and she entered the boutique battling mental naysaying.
Maybe my fortunes will change with this purchase. Some people crossed their fingers,
and others made offerings. Zuleikha placed her faith in the Lucky Clothing Goddess. Well, lucky undergarments, to be precise.
Her exit from the centre was bouncier than her entrance. The hot pink bra nestled in luxurious tissue paper inside a glossy thick cardboard bag. The circular logo was proudly centre-stamped. Her initial reaction to bus riders glancing at the logo was to shrink. The memory of the model’s confident pose on the card stand in the shop straightened Zuleikha’s spine and lifted her chin.
Courageous underwear, courageous Zuleikha.
Trying it on at home for a second time, this time at home, was as pleasurable as the first. How well it fit her (unlike the others) and how worthy it made her feel. She tossed her grey worn sports bra in the bin.
Begone, crappy granny-wear.
Time for bed. As much as she wanted to take her new beauty with her on the venture to other worlds, the wires would just dig in. They would keep her from drifting off. To think: she used to enjoy the homecoming bra whip-off with an ‘Ahhh.’ Never again! Off came the bra, but not without ceremony. She placed it back in the bag with the gentleness of a mother laying her sleeping baby to nestle in their crib.
To tomorrow’s new promise.
Zuleikha’s dream envisioned her very first job application successfully taking her through to the interview stage. Unrealistic, yes. Satisfying, absolutely. Her delivery was poised and polished. The bra pulsated pink in satisfaction. Zuleikha asked when she would hear back from them regarding their decision.
‘We’re not going to bother thinking about it: you’re hired!’
She jolted, but it wasn’t enough to release her from the dream. A scratching sound
emerged. Her brain just couldn’t illustrate what was causing it. The scratching grew louder. Then came – what sounded like – a psychedelic kind of humming. Zuleikha’s eyes shot open.
The bra lay stretched out on her bed.
She glanced at her clock. 2:45 am. There was no way she was going to return to the land of nod without the time circling her head like a taunt. She was sure that she had put the bra back in its bag before she dozed off.
Strange. Maybe she had confused reality with her dream.
Zuleikha rose early to ensure a complete meditative state before her job interview. Self-doubt evaporated once she had fastened the bra’s clasps. She strutted out of her building and down to the bus stop.
Why were the bus passengers – men and women – staring at her chest? Her shirt wasn’t see-through. There was that humming sound again. She averted their quizzical expressions and prayed the bus would get her there quicker. It
She just made it to the office in time but was somewhat flustered. When there was a
period of quiet, she tugged at her bra. No readjustments were acceptable; none of them felt comfortable. The wiring was tightening around her ribs. Maybe it was her mind making it appear the case; after all, she was about to tackle something that stirred a mountain of worries for anyone.
This feeling simply had to be a manifestation of her nerves. Tighter and tighter it became. Her fiddling became less covert. Discarding her possessions with a shocking carelessness, Zuleikha panicked as the bra throbbed and gleamed. It was pressing down on her ribcage now. Her fingers formed the filling between torso and
tightening straps. It got to the point that the straps were cutting into her fingers.
The bra emitted a low warning mmmm.
Zuleikha’s panic skyrocketed. Her panting grew quicker. She ripped open her shirt, forcing some of the button thread to loosen.
It didn’t matter that her torso was on full show for the receptionist and security guard. It didn’t matter that she was now on her knees, making strangled noises.
The bra had to come off.
Zuleikha scrambled to her feet, making straight for the receptionist’s desk. She just about located the scissors in time and used them to hack at the vengeful bra.
The second it released and the strips fell to the floor, Zuleikha rushed to button up her shirt as best she could. She plopped on the floor and splayed out. Her frantic breathing eventually levelled.
Footsteps approached, and a pair of Derby shoes planted just inches from her face.
‘Who’s this?’ the owner of the Derbys asked the receptionist, the latter whose black heels clacked to reach his side. Zuleikha didn’t dare to raise her head from her floor-level vantage point. Doom washed over her as the inevitable unravelled itself.
‘Zuleikha Kiserian. Your next interview.’
D. Sohi is a British-Indian writer and blogger, who’s also terrible at writing bios. While she has self-published her dystopian ebook Borders, she dreams of being mainstream-published (who doesn’t?). In her spare time, she enjoys the Duo the Owl popping up and threatening her to use Duolingo.’ Twitter: @DtheBee1