Back to Main Page

Back to Female Stories


March 20th, 11am

Jennifer finally got a new job. She's been depressed for weeks, worrying about paying her rent and where her next meal is going to come from. Ok, her friends would never let her starve, she could sleep on someone's sofa for a while. Hell, she could even go home to her parents if things got really bad. But she's a modern girl, she needs her independence. Wants to be earning a living and paying her own way, and luckily she finally got a break.

It's good money too, and she even gets a uniform. Heh, I never really thought about that whole "women in uniforms" thing until I saw her in it, but I kind of like it, or at least I like her in it. Guess it's the black tights, can't go wrong with them. She has the legs for them too, even though she says she doesn't. I never knew a woman who didn't complain about the shape of her legs; I don't know if they're all insecure or they just like fishing for compliments. Either way, I think it's all a bit silly. I also never knew a woman who wasn't beautiful, in at least one way if not several. Everyone has their own beauty; they just have to let it show.

Anyhow, enough of the homespun philosophy. I was talking about Jen's new job. She's a store detective, by the way. Guess I should have mentioned that. She started last week, and it seems to be going well. She's enjoying it, meeting lots of people, and her boss says she's doing a good job. She has a good eye for detail, and a good memory.

Even though she's only been there a week she recognises most of the regulars now, and she's learned who to keep an eye on. I mean, this isn't a bad town but you know all department stores get shoplifters. It's big business, the stores even budget for it. There's a certain percentage of stock that they just accept will disappear, no matter how good their security is. Crazy, but true. However those thieves are going to have to be on their toes, now that Jen's on the case.

Her only problem so far is that her office is down in the basement, right below the stock room. She has a whole bank of monitors down there, and she can watch virtually the whole shop. However she prefers to stay on the actual shop floor, even though she can't see as much. She says it's a useful deterrent, and it's good to "maintain a visible presence." But really it's simply because it's so dusty down in the basement, and the dust makes her sneeze.

Now, I've never told anyone this before, and I've *certainly* not mentioned it to Jen. So don't go saying anything to her, ok? But I have a little secret I'm going to reveal to you: I adore her sneezes. There's something yummy about them, the way her lips start to twitch, her eyes go all far away, and that little wrinkle appears just over her nose. 

You've seen it too, huh? Well every time I see her sneeze it makes me go all... well, you know.

Look, I'm blushing now. It's silly. But remember when we were kids and she used to come over to our house to play? Well, there was a reason I used to love hide and seek. All the best hiding places were in the attic; behind old packing trunks, under blankets that hadn't been moved for years, and my personal favourite right at the far end, where all of my Grandpa's things were stored. Boxes full of old books with a layer of dust so thick you could write your name in it. I used to hide behind there, wait for her to find me, then blow some of the dust at her. She'd squeal, and sneeze and sneeze and sneeze.

But you know the funny thing was, she always came to look for me even though she knew what I was going to do. And she never complained, or ran away, or tried to stop me. Funny that. God, but I miss those days.

So, now we're older and more sensible. I wouldn't say exactly that we act our age, but we play at being adults. Ok, Jen plays at being an adult, I just write comics and the occasional column for teen magazines. And of course there's my website... but you don't want to hear about that. I was talking about Jennifer's new job. Sorry, I get distracted easily. It's kind of compulsory, what with the ADD thing and my post-MTV generation, post-nihilistic, post-post modernist stance on life. Jen says I try to be too clever, I say I have to dumb down for my readers. Though not now, obviously. God I need caffeine. Brb...


March 20th, 2:30 pm

Jen just called. Apparently there's a problem at the store. In spite of her best efforts, there's still a lot of stuff going missing. It's a real mystery, they've checked all the closed circuit video tapes, they're watching all the exits, and they still can't see who's taking it, or when. She's quite worried about it. So I said to her, maybe it's an inside job. Maybe it's not a shoplifter at all, but a scam of some kind. Maybe the boss is on the take, or one of the staff has a little operation going. She says it's impossible, the boss wouldn't do such a thing, and if it were one of the staff then she'd know.

She's very confident, but then she's probably right. She has a way with people, they always trust her. However, with her there in her uniform, maintaining a visible presence, maybe the staff don't see her as one of them. People often distrust figures of authority, often feel uncomfortable around policemen even if they've done nothing wrong. I think she should try a different approach. She said she's going to think about it.

There is one other possibility, and that is that she's looking not in the wrong places, but at the wrong time. If it is an inside job, chances are it's not even happening when the store is open. The cameras aren't used when the place is closed, and of course she's not there to see what goes on. I think I have an idea...


March 20th, 8pm

We've come up with the perfect plan. You're really going to love this. Actually I came up with most of it, but I let Jen think it was her idea. You have to, really. Anyway, the plan is as follows:

1 (Supposition) If goods are going missing from the store, and there's no evidence of this happening during opening hours, it must be happening at another time of the day. The store is open 7 days a week, and there are staff there from about 6am to 10pm or later, sorting out stock, pricing, arranging the displays, cleaning, all the usual things. My, sorry, our theory is that if a member of staff is guilty, they're either doing it first thing in the morning or, more likely, late in the evening. There are several who know the security codes though, and could theoretically get in at 3 in the morning if they wanted to. So, to be sure we cover all the possibilities...

2 (Execution) Jen and I are going to spend the night in the store. Jen didn't want me along at first, said she could handle any trouble, but I wasn't having any of that. And when she spoke to her boss about it, he wasn't wild about her staying there on her own either. I guess it's probably not covered by his insurance or something. So I get to be her hero for the night. Go me.

This is the part where it gets interesting though: Virtually all of the store lights are turned off at night, and so the cameras won't be of any use. The store hasn't heard of infra-red technology, apparently. Therefore she needs to be somewhere inside the shop where she can see what's going on, but can't be seen by anyone else. Ideally she also needs to be able to move around; it's a big store and she can't see all of it from any one place in the dark. 

She could just wait by the door and see if anyone comes in, but she needs to actually catch them in the act of stealing something to make the whole thing work. So, having discounted the possibility of invisibility, or x-ray specs (I checked the online stores to be sure, but still nothing) we came up with the idea that she should pose as a mannequin. This is a good idea for several reasons:

a) She can stand up on one of the raised display platforms and get a good view of the place.

b) She doesn't have to worry about being seen; she'll be out in plain sight but no one will give her a second glance...

c) Except for me. Mannequins are hot. 'Nuff said.

She thinks it's a great idea. We had a bit of a disagreement about what she should wear though. I was in favour of lingerie - the lingerie department is well placed, near the back of the store so she'll have a good view of the rear exits and stock room. Also swimwear would be good; unrestrictive clothing in case she has to move fast, and handy if the thief tries to make a getaway by sea. That was a joke.

Anyway we settled on a little number from the Spring selection; halter top and short skirt. God knows who's going to buy it during the day, but that's not the point. I never did understand fashion. As for me, I'm going to be all in black, concealed behind the 'Returns' counter. For one thing I like the irony, and I can keep an eye on her well enough from there, or run out the back to sound the alarms if there's any trouble. The plan is she only needs to do her best impersonation of a dummy if anyone actually comes in anyway; we can monitor the security systems from inside the store, and just chat and stuff until something happens.

So, we're going to do it tomorrow night. So far this week there've been unsolved disappearances every day. I'm not sure if I want anything to happen while we're there or not. But hell, it's something to do.


March 21st, 1pm

Jennifer had the day off work, seeing as she's going to be there all night instead. We had planned to try to sleep this afternoon, but she called me and said she was coming over. Apparently her nose has been running all morning, and she had to go out anyway to get some tissues. Poor Jen. Guess this means spring is here; it's about time. Hay fever season is upon us once more. I wonder if I'll get to see her sneeze much this year. Last year was a complete washout, she had some new medication, hardly a sniffle in sight. But she wouldn't take anything this afternoon. Can't afford to get sleepy if she's going to be up all night...


March 21st, 9pm

We're off now, all dressed up and ready to go. I have a thermos, Jennifer has sandwiches, and neither of us can stop grinning. Maybe we're nervous, it's hard to say. I've told her she'll have to stop it when we get there, though. Mannequins don't grin, except in really bad movies. They just look slightly surprised, or puzzled about something. Maybe they used to be real people, and got frozen or something. Or maybe they used to be shoppers, they stopped too long looking at a particular outfit and forgot how to move again. I've been telling her stuff like this all evening. She's not usually very gullible, but it's fun to wind her up. Anyway, wish us luck.


March 22nd, 4am

A beautiful woman can take many different forms, be beautiful in many different ways. She can have beautiful hair, long and luxurious, or beautiful lips, lush and lascivious. She can have a beautiful voice, a beautiful air of serenity, a beautiful way of expressing her passion for old movies. She can be a beautiful dancer, graceful yet strong, or a beautiful lover, firm yet yielding. She can be an athlete, a poet, a healer, a dreamer, a president, a pauper, a mother, a grandmother, and all of those things yet still a child. A beautiful women can be pretty as a picture, and also as plain as the nose on your face. She can be more things than I have the time or wit to describe. However there is one woman more beautiful to me than any other. Her beauty is not that of action, movement, word or deed. It is the beauty of stillness. It is the beauty of silence. It is an everlasting beauty, eternal, enduring all and yet enduring nothing at all. It is the beauty of the mannequin.

I am writing this in a notebook, I'll type it up later. We're in the store, nothing much has happened, but inspiration strikes me at the strangest times. Jen is up on the dais, practicing doing nothing. She looks extraordinarily good.

She stands alone, always alone, in a crowded room or an empty window, it matters not to her. She is stared at by many, yet seen by none. She is a woman objectified; to all intents and purposes she is no more than an object to be dressed up as circumstances dictate. She is a blank canvas; not even a canvas but in fact an easel upon which a great many works can and will be hung. Yet to me she is radiant, breathtaking, possessed of perfect poise and so utterly full of potential. It is not her stillness that appeals. It is the fact that she could come alive at any moment.

And she does. Suddenly, in the half-lit darkness she takes a little breath, raises a hand to her face and sneezes. "Huh-Itshoo." I bless her, the words leaving my mouth automatically, my voice sounding strange in the huge room, empty of all but us. And the other mannequins. She smiles, her composure momentarily shaken, and takes a tissue from her pocket, gently dabs at her pretty little nose. 

I sigh, inwardly. I don't want to take my eyes off her, yet I force myself to look away for fear of embarrassing her. And to my chagrin as I'm avoiding watching her she sneezes again, louder this time. It echoes slightly. She says something about this time in the morning being the worst for pollen. I murmur something, I don't even know what it is. She sighs, my poor suffering angel. I want to go to her, comfort her, but she hates it when I do that. Damned modern, independent women.

Suddenly there is a sound. Three sounds, actually. Two electronic bleeps followed by a door opening. The alarm reset signal; someone has come in. We both freeze, then I move slowly, behind the cover of the big 'Pay Here' sign and over to my spot at the counter. Jen, bless her, stays frozen. A figure moves, slowly, on the other side of the room. For a few long moments there is silence again, then we hear rustling, the sounds of things being moved around, folded, put into bags.

She begins to move, oh so slowly, it's almost imperceptible. If you watch her you won't notice a thing. You may look away and then look back later, and think that something perhaps has changed, however you won't know for sure. But I will. For I can see it all. She turns her head, her waist, moves a foot, a leg. She stands now in profile, perhaps 30 metres from me. Her pose is noble, once again immobile. Yet she is almost aflame with energy, she seems to glow in the halflight. How can anyone say she is not alive?

I watch her, spellbound. I am hypnotised. I forget about the thief, the store, the entire world outside of womenswear. I watch as a tiny shiver passes through her body, I see her lips part slightly, her head tilt upwards, her hand move and then stop again as she regains control. I hear the tiniest sound of her breath, the sharp intake through the nose as she tries to make the tickle go away. She is trembling, I can feel it more than I can see it, every now and then there is a little twitch in her stockinged leg, the smallest of shudders in her hips, the faintest rising and falling of her breasts as she fights, fights, fights. Finally she looks towards me, her face a study in silent desperation. Yet I am as helpless as she to prevent the inevitable.

All is silent, all is still about her. She closes her eyes, and the world disappears from around her. There is only her. She breathes in, brings a hand to her face, and places her finger beneath her nose, firmly against her upper lip.

"Hi-mmfff. Mmmpch. Mmmppffch." Three delicious, stifled sneezes. Then she freezes once more.

Her eyes open, she sees the world again, or perhaps for the first time. There is no other movement, there is no other sound. Did anyone see her, has anyone noticed that she is looking, she is breathing, she is alive? It is impossible to say. Then once again she lifts a hand, rubs her nose furiously with one finger, yet the rest of her body remains still. Perhaps it is just her eyes, just one hand and one arm that is alive, and the rest of her is as frozen and fragile as porcelain. Or perhaps there is more yet to be seen of her, this is only the beginning. But again her movement subsides, she becomes once more a statue, an inanimate object. Just one small part of one big room.

And the thief appears from behind a shelf unit. It's hard to say whether it's male or female. It's carrying several bags. It doesn't look at Jen, apparently it hasn't noticed anything. I can't describe just how weird this moment feels, it's more than surreal. It's... not real. I look back at her, and suddenly am filled with a strange dread. 

She is completely still. As if paralysed. As if... she's just a mannequin. I start to wonder whether I've dreamed the whole thing. And then the thief goes over to the perfume counter. Grabs a couple of things. I watch, not daring to move or give myself away, not knowing what to do or even what exactly is going on any more. I've never been less in control of a situation in my life. I may as well be watching a movie, except that if I were watching a movie I probably wouldn't be this scared.

Time passes. The thief appears to be content with the night's work. It moves away from us, is lost to sight. The door opens, closes again. The electronic sound that signifies the setting of the alarm is strangely incongruous in this big, dark, lonely room. I look back to Jen. She hasn't moved. Or has she?

Her eyes are open, she does not blink. Why should she? She stares out into emptiness, what does she see? I move slowly towards her, then stop. I dare not touch her. I dare not speak. Anything could happen if I were to try; I know not what the consequences could be. I yearn to reach out, take her hand, kiss her, perhaps brush my hair against her adorable, pert little nose. But what if I've been wrong all along? What if she didn't respond, didn't move? Dare I take the chance?

I stand there for what seems like an hour. I look at my watch, it's almost 5am. People will be here before too long. I must act. There is only one possible course of action. I go to the stock room, and let myself in to Jen's basement office. It's quite small. I turn on the light and look around. The cleaner obviously doesn't come down here often, my footsteps have left clearly visible marks in the dust on the cold stone floor. Perfect. 

I move the chair away from the desk, kneel, and sweep as much dust into the palm of my right hand as I can. There are piles of it under there. Probably been accumulating since the place was built. Finally I stand again, and make my way slowly back to where she waits. Every movement I make is gentle and studied. No sudden actions. I am not sure whether this is to avoid startling her, or to ensure I don't spill any of the precious magic powder I hold. 

Was it Cinderella who was woken from a long sleep by a kiss? I forget the names in those old tales. But in my fantasies, the kiss is replaced by a puff of faerie dust to her face. You can guess the consequences.

I approach my own sleeping beauty. Her eyes are still open. I am not sure whether she is breathing. Do mannequins usually breathe? How can you tell? I avoid the temptation to meet her gaze. I don't want to look into her eyes. I fear what I might see, or perhaps what I may not. Instead, I slowly lift my hand, palm upwards, until it is level with my lips. I look up at her, take in the sight of that perfect figure one last time.

I will remember this moment forever.

I breathe in, very gently, so as not to disturb the priceless contents of my hand. I say a silent prayer. It would be awkward to cross my fingers now for luck, so instead I cross my toes. And in one swift exhalation I blow my love a kiss. The kiss of life. A cloud of dust flies into her face, finds its way into her eyes, which immediately begin to water, and her nose. Her nostrils flare. She takes a sudden, gasping breath, moans slightly and waves a helpless hand before her, fanning the air uselessly. She lifts one foot slightly off the ground.

"What the... huh....Hi-hi-Hi....." she stares at me, our eyes meet for a single moment, and then the tension of the last hour is released in one overwhelmingly glorious volley of sneezes.

"Ha-EtSCHOO! Har-Eschew! Har-ESSHHH. Uuh, what ha-happ-HARISSHOO... what happened? Oh God, Hi-hi-hi-HiTCHOO, Hi-Ish, Hi-Ish, Hi-Ish, HAR-ESSHHUHhhh, uhh, uuh, Att-SCHOO!..... Hi-TCHOO!.... A-Tishoo!....."

I take her hand, help her down, and hold her trembling body against me. It is warm, human once again. How could I ever have thought she could be anything else? 

The stream of sneezes continues, convulsing her, yet she moans and writhes in pleasure with each. Gently I lay her down and begin to stroke her hair, kiss her face, and run my hand up her black-stockinged thigh. It's been a long night, but I check the clock on the wall above the door and I reckon we've got about forty-five minutes of it left to enjoy before anyone gets here, and we're damn well going to make the most of it. 

She smiles, pulls me down to her, turns her head away briefly to sneeze five times in quick succession, then kisses me. The first rays of the dawning sun caress us both through the glass skylight overhead. Outside, the spring flowers will be in bloom, the birds will be singing, and soon all the accumulated dust of winter and ages past will be disturbed in fits of feverish spring cleaning.

It's a good time of year to be making love to an ex-mannequin.