Sunday, 16 June 2019

Write-In 2019: 'Feathers and Beads' by Stella Turner

My eyes were sore from working well into the night to satisfy the customer from hell. She wanted this then that, the colours chosen were gaudy. I’d tried to steer her to something that would compliment not jar. She was having none of it.

I suggested she might think about a bird mask. Her eyes lit up, I could see she was thinking of a graceful bird I was thinking of a vulture, a long, sharp beak like her own nose. She told me she’d be dancing on stilts and wanted a gold cloak that would look like the powerful wings of an eagle. I’d need divine intervention to turn her ideas into reality.

I’d been working with feathers and bits of silk for weeks, Beautiful creations that would have the crowds gasping with admiration at the tiny pieces of bejewelled fabric stretched over athletic bodies. I loved the gossamer silk as fine as spiders’ webs. I wove miles of tiny stitches and attached hundreds of sequins and beads. Since the year dot I’d been making carnival costumes like my mum before me, had twenty ready, wrapped in top quality tissue and boxed for collection. 

I was impatient to see Millie that was her name; I called her Bird Woman. I’d taken extra care with her costume, asked a young woman, in the next town, with no sewing skills to stitch it together. Gave her extra money to forget she’d ever done it.

It wasn’t long before Birdy was dancing in front of me. She was quite agile on those high stilts, graceful, in a fat chicken sort of way. I’d carefully painted some South American poison I’d got off the internet around the beak. I wouldn’t be seen dead in it but she soon would be. Viva La Carnival!

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