They perused the aisles of clothing together, Fenten carrying a mountain of clothes to try on and Gwynneth with two T-shirts.
“Pick something else, Gwennie,” he complained. “A dress or something that looks hot.”
“Where am I going to wear something hot, Fenten?” she scoffed. “I’m sure all the residents would appreciate that.”
“Not for work, girl. For going out.”
“I don’t go out.”
“Maybe you should. When’s the last time you and Seth went out for a night on the town? Dancing or clubbing? You two need to get drunk together.”
She felt her cheeks warm slightly. It was stuffy in the clothing store. “I don’t know of any place to go.”
“In San Francisco? Honey, there are more places than you could cover in a lifetime. Next time I go out, you’re both coming with me.”
She didn’t say anything to that. The idea of trolling the singles clubs scared her more than she cared to admit.
“How about this?” Fenten held up a red dress.
“Nice? There’s no nice about this dress. It’s hot, is what it is. You’d look great in it, too. Try it on.” He tossed it at her.
She sighed, exasperated. “It’s too fancy. I don’t think it will look good on me.”
“Go.” He gave her a little push toward the changing room. “Just try it on. And give me those.” He grabbed the T-shirts from her. “Enough with the T-shirts. Think grown-up clothes. You’ve got a body underneath those poor excuses for fashion. You need to find it.”
“Fine, I’ll try it on,” she said. “You can be so pushy, seriously.”
She checked the corridor of changing rooms. They were all empty, save for the one at the end, which seemed to have some movement in it. She started for the first door and found it locked. She tried the second and again found it locked. All of them, except for the changing room next to the one occupied, were locked. Exasperated, she set the dress hanger on the post of that one and closed the door. Shimmying out of her jeans and T-shirt, she unzipped the red dress and slipped it over her head, carefully navigating her burn. She decided not to zip it up and then checked the mirror. It was a beautiful dress. Really it was. “It’s just not me,” she murmured. “Too fancy.”
Gwynneth stared at her reflection and frowned. It was getting darker in the store. She looked up. Over-bright fluorescent lights glared down at her. “What the hell?” Her T-shirt slipped from the peg. As she bent to pick it up, something dark shot out from under the changing room beside her and snatched it. “Hey!” She knocked on the wall. “Hello? That’s my T-shirt!”
She peered under the short wall that separated the changing rooms. The room next to hers appeared empty. I swear there was somebody in there a second ago. Maybe they’re standing on the chair. “Hello?” She knocked again. Hesitant, she stepped out of her changing room and tried the perpetrator’s door. The light overhead flickered, and the door swung open.
The dressing room was empty. Her T-shirt lay on the ground. She bent to retrieve it and caught what should have been her reflection in the mirror. But it wasn’t her reflection. The mirror was completely black. Gwynneth froze in horror. Something was watching her from the other side. She could feel its presence, poised and waiting to spring. A hissing whisper made its way into her ear and trailed away. She backed out of the dressing room and fled down the corridor.
“Okay, now you look hot, Gwennie,” Fenten remarked as she joined him.“The fact that you didn’t zip it up? Even better.”