"Inside the bag, as you now know, was the dress. A real Amsale silk taffeta wedding gown from the famed designer’s Blue Label. It was a gown so special with its ruched bodice, sweetheart neckline, and giant hand-made taffeta and organza flowers adorning the skirt that it even had its own name—the “Bijou”—which I’d loved because I’d minored in French, and as a Francophile loved all things French. And really, the second I’d seen the dress I’d known I didn’t give a shit about feminism.
Purchased new, Bijou retailed for $9000, but the consignment shop was selling her for a bargain $6000, and like the saleslady had said, they never got the Bijou on consignment and they’d just gotten her that morning and she’d surely be sold by the end of the day. And so I had walked out of the store with a cumbersome garment bag and six grand on my Visa card (my credit limit), despite not earning enough income to pay for the gown, despite not having a wedding date, despite not even having an engagement ring."

In Kali VanBaale's wonderful story "Bijou," recently published in Northwinds, the title character is both this wedding dress and the "stage name" of the narrator in the phone sex job she's taken to pay for said wedding dress. Not to give anything away, but the story is witty, a bit absurd, funny as hell, and subtly heartbreaking. I'm starting her novel The Space Between next month, and this has me primed and ready. (I just realized that last sentence made me sound a little like one of Bijou's customers.)

AuthorJohn Proctor