You probably know this, but there’s a lot to see on Chicago streets during lunch hour.
Across the street from me, a mail-woman deftly pushing a mail cart stepped rapidly up the street. A lady in front of her jumped out of a taxi and crossed the sidewalk quickly, to a shop door. She wore a bubblegum pink coat, rattlesnake patterned pants, and a light brown purse slung over her shoulder. Her curly red hair reached her elbows and flew behind her as she pushed on the door. When it didn’t open, she bounced back onto the sidewalk. The mail-lady pointed to the intercom.
I don’t know what she was so eager to enter the store for, but if she were in one of my stories . . .
Fuchsia Jones always wore turtlenecks, and no one knew why. Well, no one besides her immediate family, who’d grown up used to the sight of the large brown birthmark on Fuchsia’s chest, shaped remarkably like a turkey. She hadn’t been ashamed of it until high school, when she left her small private school and began attending a large public school—and there, she was made fun of right and left, called names like fowl-face and tubby-turkey. In the middle her freshman year of high school, she begged her mother to take her to the store and buy her turtlenecks. After that day, she never wore anything besides turtlenecks.
College came and went, and Fuchsia remained unmarried, a victim of her own behavior. When any young man tried to get to know her, she laughed giddily and avoided eye contact.
After graduation she served at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Chicago, always wearing her shirt buttoned all the way up to her neck. Her coworkers laughed at her for being up tight, and Fuchsia became more withdrawn. Hidden on Clybourn, nestled in between a tanning salon and a custom frame store, stood a skincare specialty store.
One Friday before her shift, Fuchsia went to the shop and confidentially showed the salesperson her birthmark.
The woman assured her she’d seen worse, and recommended a bottle of salve that she promised would remove the brown in less than 60 days, if she faithfully applied it every night before bed.
Fuchsia paid the huge sum, took the bottle, and for the next 6 weeks rubbed her chest with the pale blue lotion every night. On Sunday morning of the seventh week, Fuchsia woke up, looked at herself in the mirror, and screamed.
The woman had been right, it did remove the brown. The turkey was periwinkle blue.