I took a pair of jeans to the tailor’s on the court square to get the legs shortened and rehemmed. Behind the counter was a woman my age with whom I had gone to high school. On a piece of construction paper, I had written how many centimetres I wanted cut off the jeans. I handed the piece of paper to the woman behind the counter.

She pinched it and put it on the counter and shook her head without looking at it. “Oh no, sweetheart. It’s better if we do it this way.” She came around from the back of the counter with some flimsy measuring tape in her hands and stood holding the roll of yellow tape between her stomach and breasts. “Go change,” she said, nodding toward the bathroom door. I put on the jeans in the bathroom and came out with my slacks draped over my arm. She took the pair of slacks from my arm and laid them over a chair in the waiting area, then came to me and hiked up my jeans and crouched and rolled up my cuffs, pinning them with a straight pin she had plucked from a red scrunchie in the back of her hair.

Through the wall-length windows of the shop, I saw light breaking from behind the clouds, the sun a white gold. I stared too long, two seconds at most, but it was long enough to make spots appear in my vision. When I looked down, the tailor was pressing the end of the measuring tape to the top of my jeans at my waist and holding it there with her thumb. Black spots floated across the world as she ran the tape down to the cuff and mumbled a number to herself. I blinked until I blinked away the spots.

She rose. “Well, sweetheart, that ought to do it.” She walked back behind the counter, scratched out the measurement I had written on the construction paper, and wrote her new number in pencil. Then she looked up at me and stared, waiting for something. But by the time I realised why she was waiting, she said, “Go take your jeans off.” I grabbed my slacks from the chair in the waiting area and went to the bathroom. I came out in my slacks, my jeans draped over my arm. I handed her the jeans. “They’ll be ready Tuesday,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I have to ask. We used to go to high school together. Do you remember me?”

She said, “Of course I remember you, sweetheart.” I was not sure she did. After all, I had only remembered her by sight and knew nothing else about her. I was too embarrassed to ask her name. “Anything else?” she asked. I shook my head. “See you Tuesday,” she said.

When I stepped outside, the three-car parking lot was covered in golden light. The black road, too, was painted gold. It was black and gold and almost too bright to look at. I looked at the sky, the clouds wispy and faint, the sky a blend of blue and white and gold, the world beautifully gilded, if only for that moment, at that time of day, before the strength of the colours contracted and evened out, returning the world to a familiar present when time moves forward again. And then I got in my car and went on with my life and did other things, as one does.

About Billie Pritchett

Billie Pritchett is an assistant professor of English at Kyungnam University in Masan, Korea. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Murray State University.

Billie Pritchett is an assistant professor of English at Kyungnam University in Masan, Korea. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Murray State University.

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