‘Hold still while I do this.’ Walt pulled on the zip, nothing happened. He pulled it back up, then down again; it stuck in the same place. He made several attempts, pulling the fabric about a bit too roughly.
‘Please be careful,’ Ella said, ‘this dress was my mum’s, it’s vintage.’
‘Sorry, Ella, I think we might have to cut you out of it. It’s just not budging.’
‘No.’ Ella’s voice came out in a long wail.
‘Perhaps I could just nip the stitches. Edna has some needlework scissors, they’re very pointy; I just need to find them.’ Walt stopped pulling on the dress and left the room in search of the scissors leaving Ella alone feeling more miserable and more stupid. Her arms were aching and her hands were cold because the blood was draining from them. She bent over and shook her hands to get the circulation going. Her hair, already messed up, flopped down so she had a close up view of her split ends.
‘Hairdressers,’ she muttered to herself, making a mental note to book a full on pampering appointment now that she could afford it.
She heard Walt approaching and stood up. He approached brandishing the scissors.
‘Oh please be careful,’ she said, ‘this dress means a lot to me.’
‘I’ll try,’ Walt said, ‘but I do wish Edna was here. Maybe you could wait.’
‘What time is she back?’
‘I can’t wait ‘til then,’ Ella heard the whiney tone in her voice. ‘I’ve got to go to work tomorrow.’
‘Maybe I can help,’ a voice said from behind her. She didn’t need to turn round to know who it was.
‘You. It would be you, wouldn’t it? Of all the people, it has to be you.’
‘Do you want me to help or not?’ Nathan said, stepping forward and taking the scissors out of Walt’s hand and laying them on the table.
Ella felt herself becoming hot again; she was ramping up for another hot, sweaty panic.
‘Okay. Yes. Go on.’
‘Please yourself,’ Nathan said. ‘You’re not doing me any favours.’ He turned to walk away.
‘Yes, please. Please.’
‘Okay. Bend over.’
‘When you were bending over, wiggling your arms about, I noticed that the fabric was looser. Let’s try it that way.’
‘You were watching me? You were watching me.’
‘Not for long.’ Nathan smirked. Ella wanted to kick him. ‘Bend over.’
Ella bent over and Nathan tugged at the zip.
‘Is it moving?’ Ella said, sounding as desperate as she felt.
‘No. Stretch your arms further forward and pull your shoulder blades together.’
‘Are you joking?’
Nathan didn’t answer but he put his hands on her back and pushed her shoulders blades together. Ella could feel the warmth of his hands through the dress. She could smell his manly, earthy odour, such a contrast to Hal.
‘Don’t move’ he whispered, then he pressed down on her back and tugged the zip.
Ella felt it move, heard it go all the way down. She let out a long sigh of relief. ‘Thank you,’ she said, standing up. The dress promptly slid of her shoulders and started to fall down her front, she grabbed it, pulled it up. At the same time Nathan reached over and pushed it back onto her.
‘Come on then,’ Nathan said, taking his jacket off the back of a kitchen chair and wrapping it around her. ‘Did you say something about a spider in your bedroom?’
This is a first draft, so is subject to change and please excuse any errors.
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