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The Rebel

by Julie Wornan

Clara snipped the thread, then examined the garment carefully. She gave particular attention to the counterfeit brand label sewn conspicuously onto the front right pocket. Then she replaced the antique sewing machine tenderly in its niche under the attic floor boards.

She tried on the skirt and contemplated the effect. Not bad! The graceful fall of the material over her hips, the inspired cuffed oversize pockets. (Pushing it a bit, that, but she thought she could get away with it).

The cloth was from a tablecloth bought long ago and never used, the thread from a box in her grandmother’s attic. The counterfeit label, though, with its inscrutable bar code, had cost three times what a skirt of similar quality would have cost her if bought.

A glance out the window showed the street was clear. Down the stairs, out. But two CP agents materialized before she reached the next corner. Sorry to bother you, Ma’am, but we need to check that brand label on your skirt. Sure thing, you guys gotta do your job. Nice skirt. Look at those pockets. Our favorite brand is getting sexier! Have a good day, Ma’am. You too. Jaunty step. Whew!

Clara’s friend Molly had been caught. Molly used to make clandestine trips to the shantytown, disguised as a servant. She would return looking slightly pregnant, and the fresh vegetables hidden under her dress became wonderful soups to share with her friends. Such flavor!

Molly was careful to lace her garbage can with empty prepared-food packages her brother smuggled from the factory. But the CP caught her anyway. Three sleepless days and nights of grueling “re-education.” What if everybody. Chaos. Anarchy. Communism. Jobs. Our precious market system. Molly did not denounce Clara. But she probably gave up her hobby. Probably. So Clara supposed.

Hi Mom. Clara! You look lovely. But I worry so. Did you see any Consumer Police? No, Clara lied, laughing, they have better things to do than check on me! Dear, they confiscated Uncle Robert’s bread machine. No! I thought they encouraged buying those things. Buying, yes, but not using. Or not too much. What if everybody baked their own bread?

They laughed. Relief and conspiracy made them merry, as they feasted on the last of Uncle Robert’s home-made muffins. The drawn curtains lent atmosphere.

But when Clara rose to leave, her mother became anxious again. “Darling, why do you do it? Why take so much risk just to make your own clothes?”

Clara hesitated. When she spoke at last, the answer seemed to come from the very depths of her being.

“It’s fun,” she said.

Copyright © 2009 by Julie Wornan

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