She asked if I needed to be measured “to make sure they feel really good on you,” her lips 
all gloss and smile.  I was nineteen and knew my size but changes in weight had caused 
fluctuations before so maybe I’d be different again.  I set down the tangled mass of bras I’d 
brought back with me on a little counter and put my arms out like a T. 

She looked about my age.  Her body was small, a black top and pants stretching around 
little curves and she smelled like vanilla and something else I couldn’t place.  She told me I 
had a fantastic tan as she weaved the measuring tape under my arm pits, around my back 
and across my breasts, over my nipples, and held it there. I could smell her and see her 
long lashes pointed toward my chest. I focused on a pile of folded panties, gorgeous little 
pieces of fabric, and thought I would tell my boyfriend about this.  I knew she had to be 
wearing underwear just like that underneath the black clothes. 

She let the tape loosen around me, the one end dangling between us, the other between her 
pink fingernails grazing my shirt, and she didn’t step back.  With her face that close to mine, 
she said,“32 B.  You have the right ones.  I’ll unlock a room.”  I cleared my throat, feeling 
that some tiny closed-off place inside me might have never been opened until just now. I 
told her I’d been a C before I lost the weight this last time.  She said I looked amazing and 
shot a glance all the way down my body, then up at my eyes, and smiled.  That was when I 
knew it wasn’t in my head.   

Behind the rose-colored door, I took off my shirt and felt the satin and lace bras against me
as if no fabric had ever touched my skin.  I could hear her clanging the metal hangers against the 
rack just on the other side of the door, smell the vanilla and raspberry—that’s what it was, 
raspberry.  She said whatever I needed, she’d be right there, would help me with anything 
at all, and her name was Justina, just call her.  I thought about pretending to have trouble 
connecting or adjusting bra straps so Justina would come inside the little room, close the 
door, and have to touch me again.  I would ask her to look me up and down; she'd whisper 
“fantastic” and “amazing” in my ear and caress the silver lines of my stretch marks with her 
pink fingernails.  Then, she'd touch the hollows of my breasts where fat used to be, and 
they’d rise up to her passion.  If I just asked her, her eye lashes would flutter against all my 
unpretty and I’d hold on to the hook behind me with both hands while she proved I could 
be somebody else.   

Nicole Monaghan's work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, DOGZPLOT, here at Foundling Review, and other places she loves. This piece won First Prize Honors for Flash Fiction at the 62nd Annual Philadelphia Writers' Conference. She blogs regularly about flash at  She is editor of the flash anthology En(Un)Gender Me due out from PS Books in spring, '12.

This story is about things fitting—yes, breasts into bras, but moreso, images of what we look like into what we think we should look like and perhaps mostly, a person with another person at a precise moment with precise needs and desires.  Of course, it is also about the experience of an unexpected flirtation and the unexpected feelings that might ignite.  The young girl’s fantasy reveals her oft-unfulfilled desire to feel desirable as well as the depths of her emotional scars from a long history of weight struggles.  What I hoped the reader would be left with was the narrator's yearning to be that thing which feels to her always just out of reach--something like how she views the store employee:  inherently sexy.  Even when the narrator “succeeds” with weight loss, stretch marks and smaller breasts result, and her perception of her own desirability is unendingly distorted.  But here, in this unlikely place at this unlikely moment with this unlikely partner, she is utterly desired, and because of that, made perfect.



Copyright 2009