Sunday, September 27, 2009

When Vanity Becomes Terror

When you see this image posted at the top of this post, you might imagine that I've lost it, given the fact that I don't usually snap photos of my clothing and use them as fodder for my blog. But here is what happened.

I received
this Cynthia Vincent dress in the mail a few days ago. I had ordered it, but had forgotten about it. On the day the package arrived, I recall hearing my doorbell and hiding in my bedroom because I don't like to answer phones or doorbells. I am overly suspicious of anyone at my door. Later, of course, I discovered the package waiting for me, and felt quite silly. Since that day, the dress has been hanging on the outside of my closet for two reasons: first, I am taking time to decide how I feel about it; second, I am too lazy to find space for it in my already overly crowded closet.

And, I
must admit, I like the dress. My mood is instantly better when I see it hanging there. It has become a bizarre source of pleasure and distraction.

problem--and, my problem in general--is that things often change shape in the dark, which is exactly what happened around 4:30 this morning, when I awoke to a night terror of an altogether different sort.

I opened my eyes and saw a man's long pale face, the space between the hanger and the bodice of the dress
. I saw his long arms dangling at his side. I saw his long dark coat, tattered and shredded at the bottom--the place where my dress became scrolls of embroidery. And I stared at him while he stared back at me, the hand my imagination had blessed him with slowly stretching toward me. I sat there, immovable, stationary with the knowledge that this was finally it.

And I began to scream
. And scream. And scream. This time, the terror was real, I said to myself as I screamed. This time, it is no hallucination. My screams did not cease until I heard a woman's voice, outside of my window, frantically asking me--or whoever she imagined was screaming--if I was okay. I was stunned into silence for a split second. I looked toward the window, and then back toward my closet door, watching as the ghoulish man's image began to dissipate into the form of a silk dress hanging on my closet door.

"Yes," I said
, weakly, to whomever had addressed me through my open window. I couldn't help but sob after that. And this morning, my throat still feels the screams.

I love to say--and do quite often--that darkness illuminates more brilliantly than light. Darkness reveals to
us the things that we cannot see when our vision is obscured by light. And so I can't help but wonder what, if anything, was revealed to me, as I witnessed my vanity become my terror. Perhpas there is a metaphor somewhere in here--something about how often we create our own terrors. We organize and arrange them, believing we can control them but never realizing that they control us.


Casey said...

Awesome, in the old sense of the word. Great title, too. Wow.

Buffy Turner Osborne said...

Wow. Seriously. I had no idea. Also, I love that you, too, hide from doorbells and phones.