The real inspiration for the dress was a visit to the EMP (Experience Music Project) museum in Seattle, where I saw a razor blade dress worn by Debbie Harry of Blondie in the 80's. Wish I'd taken a pic!
At ten, I was practicing her pout in the mirror. By twelve, I was trying her clothes (in secret, of course), thrilled with the way her shorts hugged my cheeks and made my underpants seem obsolete. Xanda was seventeen. She didn’t wear underpants.
One day she caught me in her boots and safety-pin dress, the one she had painstakingly assembled like rock star chain mail. I was so scared I poked a pin through the end of my pinky. I imagined her taking off one of her stilettos and plunging it into my heart.
But Xanda didn’t skewer me. Instead, she threw back her head and laughed a dazzling, tonsil-baring laugh, then smothered me in a hug. She had that sour, sharp smell, and I knew she had been with Andre—Andre, of the sultry voice and skin the shade of coffee with milk. Café con leche, as he put it. Sweet and dangerous. A bit of a con, said Andre. A bit of a letch, said my sister.
After she bandaged my finger, Xanda insisted I try on the matching safety-pin legwarmers. They hung like chains around my ankles. Clump, clump, drag. With a heavy grasp, she steered us both toward the full-length mirror stuck on the back of her bedroom door. The metal of the safety pins shimmered down my straight, twelve year-old hips. Xanda stood behind me, the glow of the bedroom window lighting up the pale chaos of her hair in a halo. She shimmered, too, but in a different kind of way. Her sheer white dress fluttered around her, a ghost trapped behind my chain-link figure. When she smiled, she looked like an unholy angel.
(excerpt from Chapter 1 of TELL ME A SECRET - read the first 2 chapters here!)