Short story by Iris Carden
Elizabeth had prepared for this meeting very carefully. She’d found out everything she could about the man who would be across the table from her. She knew what it had taken for others to succeed in the task ahead.
She’d had her hair and nails professionally done. It wasn’t something she normally did, but the image she projected had to be perfect. Shiny red perfectly-manicured nails, not a strand of hair out of place.
On her feet were a pair of killer glossy red stiletto heels. She’d had to practice walking in them for hours, always careful not to scuff them. There was a matching handbag, of course, mostly for show.
The dress was also red, of course, a figure-hugging mid-last-century-style pencil dress. It was a dress that would definitely draw attention.
She did her make-up carefully, the perfect imitation of a 50s screen goddess, with slick gloss over top of the very red lipstick.
Hat or no hat? She went with the hat, tilted slightly.
A cigarette would complete the look, but nothing would make her go that far.
She looked in the full-length mirror. She looked exactly as she intended to, the femme fatale straight out of an old film noir. There she was: alluring, powerful, slightly dangerous and definitely someone not to be trifled with.
Elizabeth shuddered. Her entire life, she’d defied the idea that women needed to concede to the male gaze to get ahead. As an artist, she spent most of her days in old jeans and oversized shirt, covered in paint spills and splotches. Until she began on this quest, she had never imagined herself dressing like this.
This meeting, however was too important to take a risk. From everything she had learned about this man she knew that if she attended the meeting dressed as herself, she would never get anywhere. She was going to allow this petty little man to deny her, as he had other women. She had a goal, and she was going to achieve it. No one would stand in her way.
All of the documents she needed were in her battered old leather briefcase. Shiny stylish handbags did not hold files at all well. She’d cleaned the briefcase up, applied a bit of leather colour to the scuffed bits, and given it a good coat of leather dressing. It didn’t quite fit the illusion, but it would pass. Of course, she could supply the paperwork digitally, but her research had told her that he hadn’t looked kindly on women who hadn’t been able to hand him sheets of paper.
As she entered his office, he stood up to greet her. From what she’d heard of other women who’d sat across from him, this was a good sign. As his lecherous eyes looked her up and down, she strove to keep her face impassive, uncaring, and to push down her disgust.
She opened her briefcase and pulled out the file.
“I’d like to apply for a home loan,” she said.