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The closet was getting full. Lalya had taken a few favorite garments to a tailor to have them recut for Dini, but most of her old clothes had just been pushed into the back to make room for her new clothes.Author's Notes
It was time to clear out the things she wouldn't be wearing anymore. Lalya went to the kitchen, and pulled out the sturdy cloth bags she and Dini took to the grocery store. Then she returned, her skirts rustling around her legs, and lifted out the pretty dresses, laying them on the bed.
Then Lalya started pulling out the old clothes, one at a time. Most of them were work clothes, impeccably tailored pants and bright shirts in hues designed to look good under official robes. They had been tailored to show off Lalya's broad shoulders, flat chest, and narrow hips. Lalya hadn't realized how many of the clothes were unambiguously men's styles until she looked at them all again with an eye to what might still suit her wardrobe in some capacity.
A few of the casual shirts could be worn with a skirt or overdress. The rest she folded carefully and placed into one of the bags. Next she went through the pants. Most of those would not complement a more feminine top. They went into another bag. And the shoes -- all the shoes -- went into another bag, placed carefully so the soles would not scuff any of the uppers.
A few of the sweaters were salvageable, and the winter scarves and gloves were fine -- but the coats -- Lalya just shook her head.
By the time Lalya was finished, she had four bags to take to the swap faire, and her stomach was rumbling. Some things never changed. She returned to the kitchen for a sizable snack, then checked her appearance in the mirror. Once satisfied that she looked good, Lalya picked up the four bags and set off jauntily for the Autumn swap faire.
Lalya smiled and nodded at people as she walked, kicking her new shoes through the early fallen leaves. She had become something of a neighborhood celebrity. She could not deny that she enjoyed the attention, and occasionally she was able to give a bit of informal licensing advice to someone who needed it. But today, no one asked for advice. Instead, several people thanked her for reminding them that the faire was today, and one joined her in the walk.
"What are you looking for?" The woman who asked was short with bright, golden blonde hair. She was new to the neighborhood, and Lalya had not yet learned her name. She had only one bag, which seemed to hold only very light weight clothing. Lalya wondered if she had recently moved north from another city.
Lalya smiled. "Work clothes, mostly."
The woman leaned to look into Lalya's bags. "What pretty colors!" She reached in and pulled out a shirt tossing it over her shoulders like a shawl. "What do you think, is it a good color for me?"
Lalya considered the question seriously. The shirt was green with stylized blue birds embroidered on it. It looked very different on the woman's pale skin than it did against Lalya's dark brown. "I like it. It makes your eyes look deep. But it's way too big for you."
"I like men's shirts." She put the shirt back into Lalya's bag. It would have to be counted so Lalya would get the correct number of swap tokens.
Lalya smiled and took the shirt back out of her bag. "I have plenty to trade. If you want it, it's yours. But what will you do with it?"
The woman took it and slid her arms into the sleeves. With her bag hanging from one elbow, she undid her belt and wrapped it around the shirt. Then she did a little folding and tucking with the material, rolling up the sleeves, and tucking the collar inside. "It needs a little bit of sewing, but the extra material lets me drape it gracefully. See?"
Lalya did see. With the masculine collar and cuffs hidden, the rich embroidered material looked soft and feminine on the smaller woman. "Too bad I can't do that with my own old shirts." Lalya laughed. "I never thought I'd be sad I always had my clothes tailored so closely to my figure."
"If you find something big enough in a material you like at the faire, I'll show you how I do it," the woman offered.
They talked fashion the rest of the way to the swap faire. Lalya introduced herself, and learned that the woman's name was Teilith. Teilith was from a small town near Affanumuur.
They stood together in line, and traded the items in their bags for flimsy paper swap tokens. The tokens could be used in different neighborhoods' faires, but expired before the winter swap faires, so there was no point in making the tokens out of a sturdier material. Clothing that was not claimed would be donated to the poor.
Lalya and Teilith headed to the tables covered with women's clothes together. They continued talking fashion , while picking clothes for themselves and each other. They had animated discussion about which items were good choices before putting them in their bags or back on the table.
A number of other citizens noticed their banter, and asked for their advice. At first it was just women and one very intense little girl; then a woman asked Lalya to come consult with her husband. Lalya and Teilith let themselves be drawn over to the tables holding men's clothing. After helping the man choose several work outfits to celebrate his promotion, they found a whole section devoted to Acorn Day gifts. One was exactly the type of jacket Lalya used to wear. It was even big enough.
Suddenly, it hit Lalya that she would never receive an Acorn Day gift. Acorn Day was a celebration of fatherhood, and when Lalya became a parent, she would be a mother. It wasn't until this moment that Lalya realized she'd always imagined that one year she would get gifts on Acorn Day. She hadn't realized you could look forward to something without even thinking about it.
Something must've showed on her face, because Teilith turned to her. Tentatively, and very quietly, she said, "That looks like it would fit you."
"You said you're getting married soon, I -- while we've just met, and I wouldn't want to presume on such a new friendship, I thought --"
"No, it's fine. It's just I'm a woman, now." Lalya laughed, "I'm to be the bride. I thought you knew. Asking Dini to marry me has made me something of a celebrity."
"Dini -- the actor? He's really very beautiful, in costume, at least."
Lalya smiled. "I think he's quite beautiful, no matter what he's wearing, though I am biased."
"I see now. Back, where I'm from, a child could have two fathers or two mothers or two no gender parents. Or any combination of the above."
Lalya ran her hand along the rich brown and black brocade of the Acorn Day jacket. "Afffamarg may be a little old-fashioned," she admitted, "but really, it's okay. Occasionally things hit me oddly, like this," she pulled her hand away from the rich material and turned to face the other woman. "But becoming a woman, it's not what I expected. It's like I'm rediscovering myself. For instance, yesterday I discovered I enjoy writing poetry." She reached down and spread her skirts. "And I love the clothes."
"Well then," Teilith reached out and gently turned Lalya back to the table, "you should take advantage of the chance to enjoy the woman's side of Acorn Day. What do you think Dini would like as a gift for the future father of your children?"
They debated the various offerings on the table, until Teilith lifted up the jacket to find it was hiding more brocade, brown and cream. She lifted it up, and Lalya blushed. The shirt and shorts were clearly designed for the bedroom. Teilith smiled, "would these fit him?"
They were, indeed, just the right size.
Teilith must've read the answer in Lalya's expression. She folded them carefully, and placed them in Lalya's bag. She gave Lalya a sweet, innocent smile. "Now you can have a proper Acorn Day celebration."
"You can't tell me he won't like it. Now, come on, there's some lingerie over there. I think we can find a lacy nightgown for you to wrap his gift in."
Now that was a thought that did not embarrass Lalya. She left the skimpy brocade garments in her bag, and followed Teilith back to the women's clothes.
This is for Ellen, who wanted more stories about Torn World holidays for the current (January 2013) Muse Fusion.