Pretty Kitty’s Closet
Aster rose with a flourish once he was able. “While you were sleeping, my dear, I spoke with Pretty Kitty. She was unable to accompany me due to a previous engagement.” He placed a hand near his mouth conspiratorially. “Of a rather personal nature, I believe. But she agreed to allow us access to her locked wardrobe. This is going to be quite enjoyable, I assure you.” He pulled a ring of keys from somewhere under his baggy, almost shapeless coat and shook them once.
Quite enjoyable, I assure you. Daffodil concentrated for a moment, filing this phrase away for later use. Then she crawled on all fours to the edge of her basket, swung her legs over and hopped to the floor. Her flesh bobbled appealingly as she performed these actions, drawing a little sigh from Aster. She debated taking the sky blue quilt with her, but the room was perfectly warm and she found suddenly that she wanted to be naked for as long as she could. There was something very final in this ritual of clothing, something that told her she might be imprisoned ever after in rigidly color-coordinated outfits, never truly free to wander nude if she desired. She promised herself that she would think very carefully before putting anything on.
“If you’re ready, lovely Daffodil, please take my arm and come this way,” Aster said, and so she did.
They walked farther into the giant bedroom, weaving between the elaborate afghans that bloomed like vast water lilies on the floor or crept up couches and chairs like ivy. Pools of soft, gold light, cast from recessed wells in the ceiling played counterpoint to the fabric flora. The room was deep and it was difficult to tell exactly where it might end since even the walls were festooned with thick tapestries. Daffodil ran her hand over several as they passed, delighted by their rich hues and intricate patterns. They were geometric designs, some of an almost fractal nature, and once again she felt that hypnosis was imminent if she did not look away. One, a fantastic hanging composed of interlocking circles, was so subtly colored in reds and violets that she turned to Aster with huge, wonder-struck eyes. Her hand tightened on his arm and they stopped for a full two minutes as she examined it more closely, smiling up at him periodically in pure, perceptual glee.
Ah, to be new again, thought Aster, smiling indulgently back. He waited, taking the opportunity to admire the slope of her back from shoulders to buttocks when she turned to the tapestry. New or not, life always had its pleasures.
They continued on and came eventually to what looked like an impenetrable wall of curtains. Gold lace, heavy velvet, glimmering satin curtains in those same concentrated, mineral colors. Amethyst, emerald, ruby, sapphire. Daffodil couldn’t take her eyes off them. Then Aster produced a draw cord seemingly from thin air, pulled it and one of the curtains shuttled to the side with a smooth, rolling sound.
Behind it was a door. A plain, brown, wooden door with a small metal plaque at about eye level. Engraved on the plaque in neat block letters were the words “Pretty Kitty’s Closet”.
Aster leaned his back casually against the door, twinkled at her and once again brought out the ring of keys. There were four keys on it, three small brass and one large silver. He selected one of the brass keys and held it between his thumb and forefinger.
“Before we go in,” he said, “I must tell you that Pretty Kitty doesn’t usually allow anyone into her closet without her strict supervision. She has agreed this time (twinkle) because she and I have reached a certain understanding (twinkle). Do you think you can submit to my guidance while we peruse this chamber of delicious delicates?” The twinkle that accompanied this last was so twinkly that it actually became a wink. “I promise not to abuse my authority … unless of course you request it.”
Daffodil giggled and Aster was smitten all over again. He turned to the door, partly to hide the blush that was rising from his neck to his cheeks. How long had it been since he’d blushed? He put the key resolutely in the keyhole by the door’s handle. It turned with one loud click and the door swung inward.
Aster entered first and stopped just inside the door. He groped to his left, found the lever that jutted up from the floor and pulled it slowly until it stopped. As he did this, more recessed wells of gold light in the ceiling filled up and spilled over, illuminating the interior of the closet. Aster stepped a little farther in and beckoned to Daffodil.
“As you can see,” he said, “you have quite a decision to make.”
Daffodil looked past Aster at the racks of clothing which lined the walls of the closet, which was actually not a closet, but more of a large room attached to the bedroom from which they had come. The racks had been fashioned from some dark metal to resemble creeping, thorny vines, dotted here and there with small, gold roses. They were neat, but packed tightly, the clothes not so much hanging, but nestling against each other, as if for comfort or warmth. The center of the room was furnished with three large mirrors in ornate, mahogany frames, standing in a circle like sacred stones. The rose motif was repeated around the face of each mirror on the glass itself, etched in thin, frosty lines. There were also two couches draped with great sheets of maroon silk and a small table, also of mahogany, that supported a thin paper box covered in gold foil.
“What do I do?” Daffodil asked. She was afraid to touch anything or walk anywhere. The room seemed so still and beautiful. She felt terribly out of place.
“Hmm. Well,” said Aster, “though I am quite reluctant to help you cover your natural charms … with clothes that is … I’d be more than happy to cover them with kisses … I suppose I could pick out a few things for you, just to get you started.”
Daffodil thought for a moment about Aster’s kisses and what they might feel like on her … natural charms. She believed they would feel wonderful because in her dreams of kissing she couldn’t imagine ever wanting to stop, but of course she had never been kissed in the waking part of her life. She decided that, for now, she should concentrate on the task of clothing herself and leave the kissing for later.
Aster, meanwhile, had taken her hand and was leading her to one of the couches. When she was seated he moved the small table with the gold foil box closer to her. She watched him rummage beneath his coat again and soon he produced a white handkerchief. Then he removed the lid of the box and she saw that it was filled with chocolates and brightly colored bits of sugar candy.
“You’ll need to eat something more substantial soon, but for now I think you’ll find these deeply satisfying,” he told her and offered her the handkerchief. “Just wipe your fingers on this before touching any of the clothes, if you please. Now, off I go.”
And off he went, humming briskly to himself. She watched him first close the door through which they had come and then stride purposefully to a rack on the opposite side of the room. She just had time to see him pull something, a dress perhaps, in creamy yellow satin from the rack before she caught her reflection in one of the mirrors and all else was momentarily forgotten.