Celebrating East African Writing!

The Little Black Dress

Written by Eunice Kilonzo

She scrubbed her body clean. Today was the day. She could not wait any more. They had planned for it since the beginning of the holiday.

She opened her rusted blue metal box which housed all her precious clothes. The box squealed open and revealed a neat arrangement of clothes and ornaments on one row while scarves and handkerchiefs on another. The first cloth was a Kitenge her aunt brought her from Ghana. It was a colorful piece that she reserved for cultural events. She perused to the cloth underneath the Kitenge kaftan exposing her faded, worn out skinny jeans. The mitumba hawker on a certain night had sold it to her; only to reach home to discover that it was not as black as she was made to believe. She removed it from the pile and placed it on her wooden rickety bed. Her blue satin dress flashed back at her. She had worn the dress to her elder sister’s wedding. It brought back memories and especially of the food she ate on that day and how she had to unzip the dress for the entire reception ceremony. She pulled it out and dug deeper into the case.

Her cloth search went on for a while.

‘Torn sleeve’
‘Too creased’

Her phone alarm went off. Eleven o’clock. Her date was due in two hours. Yet she had not identified what to wear. Her room was a mess. She had heaps and heaps of clothes yet nothing to wear. The beads of sweat on her face a clear indication of her struggle. Her hair was still covered in the torn brown stockings. She had planned to have her hair curled so she had it in rollers that were tightly tacked underneath the stockings. She sat on the mound of clothes on the floor and held her face between her sweaty palms and sighed.

She scanned her room. Disappointed and fidgeting wondering what to do next. Time was moving fast. She stood up and walked around her cube peeping besides her bed and settee with the hope that maybe she might get something to wear. While bent peeking, a luminous orange price tag caught her attention.


This was it. This could mean the beginning of the end of her cloth predicament. The little black dress was most suited for this occasion! There was a catch however; it was her younger sister’s dress. She had tried it on three months ago when it was bought. She surreptitiously tiptoed into the next room. Got in and checked behind the door. There it was. She knew she had to be quick lest she was caught by her nosy cousins who were visiting. Her sister had left for a youth camp to the Coast.

The taps were turned on again. She had a quick shower to freshen up. Few minutes later, she was dry and began to apply Vaseline on her caramel brown even skin and smeared powder on her face almost simultaneously. She had an hour to go. She softly highlighted her top eye lids with a golden-brown liner. The lower ones with a black liner, dragging the eye shape upwards to give them the shape of a tiger’s. Her eyelashes were topped with thick black mascara that gave them an enticing curly look. Her billion-dollar smile revealed milk-white teeth with a dental formula to die for. The deodorant was next, followed by perfume that she skillfully fished from her metal box. She sprayed jets of the fragrance on either sides of her neck, just above the collar bone, her armpit and just above her thighs. Satisfied with the sharp flowery aroma emanating from within, she got hold of the dress.

A smile cut across her face as she imagined how Ray would be impressed by her sophistication. She tried the dress on, her heart racing. She prayed that it would fit well. Sure enough it fit her in all the right places. Her curves were pronounced and her brown tender legs and arms beautifully contrasted with the little black dress. The full mirror on the wall confirmed what she felt on her body. She looked lovely.

One thing was a miss though; her hair was yet to be sorted out. She yanked out the stocking from her head. The rollers hanged loose and haphazardly, it gave the impression of a worn out broom. Forty minutes left. Swiftly but carefully the rollers came sprawling on the floor. The curls on her head were bouncy and shiny. Her springy golden brown soft Caucasian hair had not thwarted her immense efforts in light of the date ahead. She ran a jelly comb over the curls on her smooth forehead, untangling some few locks trying to style her hair. She was almost through when she remembered her lucky charm, the pearl white scarf, and tied it around her neck in a sideways bow. Ray had got it for her before her final exam in High school.

She picked the black doll shoes to march with her outfit. Stunning was an understatement. She was sparkling, elated and smelt like she had bath in scented water. She paced out of the house and luckily got a matatu. The conductor was more than glad to have her take his seat. Her aroma diffused greedily into the matatu such that it was competing with the sweat reek in the vehicle.

She was to hook up with Ray outside the Hilton Hotel. As the matatu neared town her heart went fanatic. She was overwhelmed. She had last seen Ray when campus was closing for the Christmas holiday. Her anxiety was over the top. She was too engrossed in nervousness that she did not hear her phone beep notifying her of a new message. Her stop came and she alighted cautiously lest she tears the dress. She had a big infectious smile as she briskly walked towards Hilton Hotel. She wanted to check the time but then she realized that she had left her wrist watch on the bed. Unperturbed, she reached for her phone in the sequined black purse. It was then that she saw the new message, besides she was fifteen minutes early.
The message was from Ray. She smiled some more. She began reading the message but then her smile slowly curved. She had a half Monalisa smile. Gradually, it faded and formed traces of frowns all over her face. Her eyes glistened. She reread the text:

My love Natasha,
Hope you are okay,
I don’t know how best to say this but I can’t come today.
I’m really held up at home. Sorry for the inconvenience sweet pie.
I will call you.

She took a deep breath, turned back and walked as if she had been chained on the ankles and knees. She made her way through the sea of people along Kencom who to her surprise were all in a certain rush. It was then that the shadowy cloud across the skies caught her eye. It began to pour, heavily. She clenched her teeth in fury and disenchantment as her hair and the little black dress drenched in the afternoon spell of rain.


2 comments on “The Little Black Dress

  1. Annie Randall
    March 6, 2012

    Nice story. It had a very promising beginning but I got lost somewhere it said something about her Caucasian hair? Apart from that the rest was okay. I like the description of how she was preparing for the date and the disappointment at the end was kind of sad. Good writing.


  2. bee
    March 12, 2012

    Very poor command of english. A few examples.. ” her hair hanged loose?” “she had bath in scented water”. The writer has a problem with past tense. It ends up sounding like a poorly done junior school composition


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