‘I don’t know what to wear’.

We both didn’t.

I tiptoed to her wardrobe and peered over her shoulder: inside, there was only her emerald green jumper.

‘Where are all you clothes?’ I asked surprised.

‘How should I know?’ She got a little offended. ‘It’s all Mrs Biggly’s fault,’ she muttered to herself.

‘Who’s Mrs Biggly? Is it that dreadful woman who insists on giving you advice?’

‘She doesn’t insist on it,’ Viveka moaned. ‘She’s just offered to help me find my own style’.

‘By taking all your clothes away? By the way, when has she managed to remove all this? You did take something out of this wardrobe in the morning and put it on, didn’t you? I saw you do it.’

‘I gave her the key to the flat,’ Viveka admitted.

‘You did what?! To a woman you hardly know?! Are you insane?!’

I’m a rather hot-tempered kind of a person. I started to shake. Gently.

‘Not now, Fredrick. We need to get dressed.’

Yes, she was right. It was already half past seven.

I went back to my own wardrobe and pulled out a pair of tight jeans. I threw them to Viveka.

‘These might fit.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, you clearly have to do with the jumper and my trousers, unless you prefer to go to the party wearing a tracksuit, of course’.

She grimaced and then opted for her yukata, which she kept in the bathroom. Hopefully, it was still there.

When she left the bedroom, I poured myself a glass of water and sat on the bed in front of my open wardrobe.

It was a relatively warm September evening and we were going to my brother’s birthday party. Actually, he was my half-brother. We’ve never been very close – his mother didn’t take it very well when my father decided not to marry her despite the pregnancy and so he visited us only once or twice a year. It was a bit awkward for me when I was a child. There he was, a boy who supposedly was my brother, sitting shyly at the edge of the sofa, while my mum was trying to act like a perfect hostess – and an extremely liberal spouse. Not that Michael was born out of wedlock, no – he was conceived when my father was at college –  but deep in her heart my mum was still a catholic and couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact that her husband: a) had had sex with someone else b) had let Miss Someone Else have the baby without marrying her. Well, at least mum didn’t have to marry a divorced man –  that was my opinion – but she’s never been very good at spotting the silver lining. Obligations and good manners –  yes, Pollyanna-like optimism – no. And so, during Michael’s visits she always put on this strained smile, and, as she didn’t like feeling the way she felt then, she didn’t insist on him coming over too often either.

Speaking of putting things on…

Why was it always so difficult for me to choose what to wear for a special occasion. Was it because I was so fond of the 18th century and couldn’t really be bothered with anything that didn’t include white stockings and stuff? Did I have a Mr Darcy complex? Thanks to Colin all men probably did nowadays.

When Viveka came back, I scrambled to his feet and chose my usual combination of a ridiculously bright shirt and more serious trousers.


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