Attila: Age Eight

Attila: Age Eight

With tugs at the seams and pulls at the hem, she hates everything about wearing a dress. She definitely does not want to be wearing it, but she also definitely does not want to not be wearing it. She stares into the porcelain-colored, always-pleasant face of her doll, Samantha. Lacking in ethnic diversity, her mother determined that, of the options presented in the company’s catalog, Samantha, being a brown-eyed brunette, would suffice as a positive reflection. Tucking her gently into the crook of her arm, the two take a look at each other in the mirror. Dresses matching, adorned with fluffy white, mink-skin muffs, she throws the doll on the floor. The doll’s eyes close, but the face remains unperturbed. She waits with anticipation for the doll’s expression to change into despair or loathing. A gentle grin of pleasant, smug satisfaction remains. With a swift kick, she knocks the doll over onto its face. “Stupid, Samantha. You’re such a dumb girl.”

From the far away distance of a room on a separate floor in the over-sized house, she hears her mother shout for her to hurry up and come down for dinner. She throws a small fit of rage and is interrupted by a gentle knock on her bedroom’s door, “Atil.” She huffs. “Honey,” her father begins the way that he always begins when desperately trying to get through to her. “Attila, darling, it’s only for one silly little dinner. What’s all the huff about?” Turning away from him, she stomps toward the bed and plops herself down. “If your mother has to come up here, you’re going to be sorry you made such a fuss over something so insignificant.” “Yea, really, Dad? What the hell do you know?” “I know that wearing that goddamn dress will not kill you.” Attila perks up at her father’s use of language. Like the face of her Samantha doll, her father never breaks, always stays cool, never bullshits her. They stare each other down for enough time for the humor in the situation to bubble forth. She cracks and smiles, and then she begins to laugh hysterically while writhing around on the bed. Her father leans against the doorframe, crosses his arms and chuckles one short chuckle behind an empty smile.

“Fine. I’ll make a deal with you,” Attila finally offers once recovered from her fit of giggles. Her father stands at attention, “You know that I love a good deal.” “Okay, well then, I propose that I wear pants under this god-awful thing, lose the muff, and I’ll be on my best behavior throughout the entire evening.” Mulling over her proposition, her father raises a hand to his chin while stroking the underside of it in deep contemplation. He retorts, “Black, non-denim, hole-free pants, the same fancy shoes, and you have to be more than well-behaved.” She hangs her head low. “You must be the life of the party,” he finishes. Excited by the sound of his little addition, Attila hops off her bed, walks over to her father, and they shake hands. “Deal,” she accepts. “Deal,” he agrees. “Very well then,” she states with pride; tell Mom I’ll be down in five.” Turning to leave, her father turns back to face her, “Atil.” “Yea?” “Thank you. You’ll make me very proud and your mother very happy.” “Ugh,” she sighs with rolled eyes; “Don’t ruin this, Dad.” He waves her off with a hand, “Make it quick. Guests are already here.” She shuts the door before his final word on the matter.

Happy, she runs into her closet and searches for a pair of non-denim, non-holey, black pants. She opts for a pair of black slacks that make up the lower portion of her concert, performance uniform. They’re comfortable, she notes, and aren’t too baggy. The last thing she wants right now is more conversation on the topic of her sartorial taste. Slipping off the black velvet flats that are embellished with red, green, silver and gold sequins in the form of a Christmas tree, she pulls on the pants. Stepping back into the shoes, she huffs again at the deal and immediately wishes she had countered for better shoes. In the middle of her room now, she checks her reflection in the mirror and sees her Samantha doll lying face down on the floor in front of her. Carefully, she kneels down to pick her up, and as she flips the doll over, she sees the scuff on her face. “Fuck,” Attila whispers; “I’m sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean it. I was just angry.” She attempts to rub the scuff off the doll’s face, but soon realizes she’ll have to deal with it later. She walks the doll over to the bed and gently sits her down on top of the soft down comforter, “Stay here. I’ll come back and wash your face first thing after this goddamn party.” Attila smiles at Samantha.

Quietly, Attila glances out the window that encases the corner of her bedroom where her bed snugly fits. Out, over and beyond the courtyard at the back of the mansion, she sees a flicker of light as if a chandelier hangs in the middle of the lawn. “No,” she gasps in a small whisper. “No, no, no,” she panics; “Not now. Not now!” Her mind reels at the thought of her father having to deal with her absent-minded self as she travels far from here. Goddammit. That fucking bitch. “I’ve been waiting for five years, and you decide to show up now!” Attila shouts at the window.

An older woman appears within the twinkling light of the chandelier’s baubles, smiles and sits down upon a cast iron chair. Attila looks around the room deciding whether or not she should run, find her father and apologize for everything that’s about to happen or if she should just jump out the window and ruin the party some other way. Between decisions, the older woman slowly crosses one leg over the other. “Wait!” Attila yells again at the window; “Give me five minutes! Please!” She decides to find her father and tell him everything she can as quickly as possible, but as soon as she lays eyes on him, the older woman snaps her fingers. A flash of red. Attila trips and falls to the ground in a flash of blue. The world turns green.

Attila blinks her eyes open to find herself seated in a comfortable, purple velvet, wingback chair. Housed within an all-white, brightly-lit rectangular room with no windows and doors, Attila feels that her body has aged to the age of a young woman. She looks across the space. Seated there, eyes lowered, the older woman touches each fingertip of one hand to the corresponding fingertip of the other. Attila, the older woman greets.