Burqas

It was late in the day and golden sunlight poured into the apartment living room. Carl was sitting on the couch, idly picking near-microscopic pieces of lint from his black pants. He grabbed his tie and stared at it for a moment, as if he suddenly realized what he was wearing. In three long strides he was off the couch and knocking on the bedroom door.

“Are you decent?”

“Come in.” said a small voice from inside.

Upon entering, he braced himself for the usual assault of hairspray, perfume, and other cosmetics that floated in the bedroom. Squinting and holding his breath he entered, and removed his tie. Sheila was dressing behind an ornate folding partition.

“Forget something?” she said.

“Oh, just realized I wore this same tie last time.” said Carl as he rummaged through his tie rack. “Have you seen the one with the tiny dolphins?”

“The orange one?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you sure that goes?”

“I’m wearing black. Everything goes with–never mind; found it.”

Sheila let out an exasperated sigh. “Men have it way too easy. Just change your tie and it’s a whole new outfit!”

“I don’t make the rules, dear,” said Carl smiling at his reflection as he tightened the orange silk around his neck, “…But I sure as hell enjoy ’em.”

He breathed deeply through his nostrils after closing the bedroom door behind him. The sunlight was on its way out of the living room now.

“It’s getting getting late, hun.”

“Okay. Almost done. Could you call us a cab?”

“Yeah.” Carl pulled his phone from his pocket and pressed the screen several times.

“That reminds me: there was a group of women downtown wearing burqas.” said Sheila from the bedroom.

“Oh yeah?” Carl was pacing the room now with the phone to his ear.

“There’s more all the time. It’s really disturbing.”

“Yes, very disturbing–Oh hello. Yes, 3rd and Pike please…”

“I just can’t imagine,” Sheila continued, “I mean, why cover yourself up like that? In America!”

“They’ll be here in five, dear.”

“Okay… Let me know what you think.”

The bedroom doors opened and out came Sheila. Carl’s first impression was that a life-sized doll had come walking out of his bedroom. Her face was a tan-and-blush blur from which two twinkling eyes peered beneath black eyelashes that curled up towards the sky. Her teeth were blindingly white, her lips moist-looking and bright pink. Blonde hairs sprouted from her smoothed forehead and flowed down past her shoulders–longer than Carl had remembered. All the lines and freckles that Carl once knew seemed like a distant memory.

“You look beautiful, Sheila. Like a princess. I hardly even recognize you.”

Somewhere beneath her blush, Sheila blushed.