MEASUREMENTS

HANNAH BARCLAY

Flesh contorts in unusual ways as she wrestles the denim onto her body. Last winter’s jeans had been hidden away, waiting for a chill in the air to free them. The woman and the seams groan in unison as she pulls the brass button tight and attempts to fasten the pants. She writhes and wriggles, inhaling sharply to make room. It is no use; they don’t fit.

She falls to the bed, overcome with a deep exhaustion.

She remembers the day she brought the jeans home from the store last December. The sales associate wrapped them in cream tissue paper and the fabric was so stiff. They smelled like the aromatic candles that had been burning by the register when she handed over the hundred-dollar bill. Buyer’s remorse temporarily overcame her as she unwrapped the garment. The light feeling of excitement that carried her home was now weighed down by budgets and reason.

The regret had disappeared as she pulled the pants on the next day. She remembers getting ready for that first date. Her fingers quivered as she fiddled with the hem, rolling it into a perfect cuff as if her date would scrutinize it.

It was a night of newness; new clothes, new names and new feelings. She remembers the contrast of his smooth hands on the rough denim and his stubble over her pink cheeks.

That night led to blustery days at the water, getting acquainted with sea salt lips. A first date morphed to countless more because she finally found someone’s company she enjoyed more than her own. Cool spring days brought lunch in the park and passionate debates. Eventually, plans became connected and milestones became shared. The weeks changed from shiny and thrilling to something that felt more serious. Nights were whispers and mornings were hot coffee and laughter. Those were the moments that felt timeless, making her believe in a forever.

Eventually, things warped. They were too different from when they first met seven months ago. They were back to wanting and wishing for separate dreams. The reaching and stretching to stay connected left their skin puckered and raw. She remembered the searing pain.

In June, the brisk air turned balmy, and the jeans were retired to their resting place.

Now it is December again, and she is looking at the room that used to be theirs. As she goes to the closet, she passes a bare bedside table tattooed with phantom watermarks, and an old guitar that only plays sad songs. She places the jeans back in their spot on the top shelf to gather dust once more. The sharp ache inside her that had arrived with the summer heat and stuck around has become dull, but it is still present. 

It’s no use, she thinks, they just didn’t fit.