Night after night, she stays at the studio late, bent over her costumes.
Too derivative, the critics said, so she sought new silhouettes, new textures. Bizarre, distracting, the critics said, so she embraced classic lines, safe colors. Her work lacks imagination, so she crafted in metallic, in vinyl, in light.
She tried to love everything she made, but the nominations never included her, so she didn’t love them, really. Obviously they weren’t worthy. She wondered if she was worthy anymore. No genre seemed to suit her; no awards acknowledged her. After the incident with her last director, no producers even contacted her.
But she has a good feeling about this current project: it’s sure to impress the people who matter.
She doesn’t hear the ticking wall clock anymore, only the hum of the sewing machine, and the failure that whispers when it’s silent.
She doesn’t miss home; everything she needs is here. She used to sleep with her head resting on the bolts of black wool.
She used to sleep.
She keeps herself awake by pricking her thighs. She’d prick her fingers but the one time she did, on accident, she dripped red on the white cotton and it spread like rust, like rot. Now she hides her blood even from herself. It, like her need to sleep, like her failure, is a weakness she can no longer indulge.
The machine stills and the shirt is finished. She presses it in a few swift strokes, then hangs it with the others. There’s almost a whole wall of shirts now. The rows of crisp white are so soothing. She could fall asleep gazing at them.
She cannot sleep. Not until she’s done. The walls are not done.
Her legs and fingers ache.
It is time for black. The trousers take longer. She wishes she could hem them; he’d be so much happier with them if she could hem them. How many hours since she slept?
She likes the wall of black less, but they always wear black pants. He always wears black pants. He won’t be happy with anything else.
She wakes herself with a swift jab of the needle. Somehow she can hear the ticking clock again. It thunders like oxfords marching down a hallway, marching to tell her she wasn’t nominated, the lead hates her dress, the stuntman tore another jacket, the director wants to see her later, privately.
Jab. How many hours since she slept? She only has one bolt of black left, not enough for a pillow, barely enough for all the trousers she must make. Jab. She can’t buy more, can’t leave, she has so much work to do.
She presses neat creases into the legs. His legs will fill these spaces soon. Then he’ll be happy. Then he’ll let her be happy again.
Jab. She doesn’t remember sitting back down at the machine. She’s threaded white when she wanted black. Now the pants are ruined. How many hours since she slept?
The wall of white calls to her, but it’s a different wall of black that consumes her.