There’s a home beside mine that’s been empty for years. Its walls have turned pale and the windows foggy. A sign still hangs over it but the paints have faded to near oblivion. Only myself and those who cared enough to notice remember that it once advertised the humble services of a seamstress.
The seamstress seemed young when I met her, but I now realize that the color faded from her face and hair showed her age better than her mind did. Her mind was still set at an age around my own as I leave this house for the first time in my life.
But as I leave this house, all I can think of for some reason is the seamstress missing from the house next door.
I remember the first time I went there. I must have only been three, but I remember being enthralled by the pretty colors of dresses and gowns. Hours were spent rushing through the aisles of fabric as my mother dealt with more adult-like things. I still remember the feel of silks, velvets, and cottons beneath my pure skin.
By the age of twelve I had convinced myself I wanted to be just like that seamstress next door. My plan was to first be an apprentice to her. Once I got the hang of things I would open my own shop in somewhere “cool” like Florida or Italy.
I used to always see the spare threads hanging from her clothing and imagine myself looking the same. I saw myself with the indent of scissors forever pressed into my thumb. Yearning for the day I’d open my own shop didn’t make the days go faster and soon I realized that wasn’t my dream at all.
By the time I was graduating High School, the seamstress next door was no more next door, but in the hospital. Her back had given out and she could barely see. It seemed her job had begun to kill her. Those late nights when I could see her up in a window with merely a dim light on, must have had more effect than she let on when I visited.
I never really got a chance to say goodbye. No one did.
She had no husband, no kids, and no pets. She managed to get herself to a hospital one day and she could never get herself back once her ailments began to consume her. On my first day of college I got a call from my parents saying she had passed away with no will and no living heirs.
The seamstress next door was gone and I hadn’t even gotten a chance to say goodbye. Her estate was cleaned out by the government and the building was left to rot. I can picture in my mind how bright that building once seemed. Even though she was its only worker, the business ran like clockwork and everyone knew where to get a dress that was worth your money.
But now she’s gone and I’m about to leave, too.
I’m no seamstress but I’ve got a job I love and a fiancé to head home to so I’m not so sure why that boarded up shop makes me so sad. Maybe one day I’ll better understand why the seamstress next door could stand to be alone and work such a lonely job her whole life. Maybe I won’t ever understand. But unlike the rest of this town, I’ll never forget her.
**Here’s some late night fiction. It’s a little rough around the edges, but I like trying new things!