A long steel-gray sled was parked in front of the dress shop, Blitt noted as he approached it. “She’s here,” he whispered to himself as Dan’s sled auto-parked itself in the next space. He got out and caught his reflection in the window, startled by not immediately recognizing the new face that the mask was imposing over his real one. It made him feel strange. Almost as strange as his meeting with Priscilla.
Once inside the store Stacy immediately greeted him as if she had been waiting for him the entire morning. “She just went into the dressing room. You’re just in time,” she said smiling back at Blitt.
Blitt briefly returned her smile and remained silent while he waited for Priscilla to emerge from the dressing room. He was worried about what her reaction to his strange face would be, so he tuned out Stacy’s voice droning away right beside him.
“I hope it fits her. I took some liberty and had it sized to a similar dress she purchased not too long ago.”
The bubbly sales clerk hopped out into Blitt’s field of view, forcing his attention back onto her, crossed her fingers with hope and playfully smiled at him. Behind her, the dressing room door opened and Priscilla began to emerge from it, pieces at a time. She was looking down as she walked out, examining the fit of the dress on her slim body. Stacy turned to face her, and Priscilla lifted up her face. She was about to to speak, but her eyes immediately fixed onto Blitt’s. Her confusion quickly dissolved into a skeptical realization of who he was, and then she opened her mouth to speak.
“It looks good on you,” Blitt said quickly before she could start talking.
He let the electromodulation of his synthesized voice drop for a single syllable, so that Priscilla would know that it was indeed him. He froze for a moment, realizing that what happened next could very well define the outcome of his entire mission. She would have to leave the shop with him regardless of whether or not she wanted to come. Blitt couldn’t help feeling the pressure of uncertainty as to what her decision would be.
He kept his eyes locked back onto her cold and discerning stare while he struggled to remove all the emotion from his own face. It was a new face to Priscilla, but behind it was still Blitt’s very own bone and muscle that were capable of betraying each uneasy feeling that swirled about in his head if he were weak enough to gave in to them. Also his eyes, which he knew were like wide-opened portals to his every determination, were the same eyes that had been locked onto hers for countless moments, countless times in the past. He tried his hardest to still them, aiming them at Priscilla’s blue eyes like a pair of sharpened blades.
Stacy turned back and forth between them both, grinning with satisfaction before moving out from between them, doting over the dress in orbits around Priscilla, checking it’s fit all over.
“I hardly recognized you,” said Priscilla. A chill was present in her voice, but as Blitt was relieved to realize, she had been somewhat warmed over by the gift.
“I haven’t been myself today,” he replied with a smile. “But you look every bit of yourself.” He dared a step in her direction, maintaining his contact with her cold eyes. Another step, and before he even realized it he had closed the short distance between them and embraced her, planted a kiss on her painted lips and drew her in closely.
“I’ve missed you,” Priscilla said as she evaporated into his caress.
Stacy chimed in, “Well, this scene just got a bit intimate. I’ll leave you two here. Let me know if you need anything else.”
* * *
When they left the dress shop, the evening sun had slid noticeably further West, illuminating the ocean with fiery watercolor light. Priscilla had changed back into a skirt and blouse, and held the dress, packaged neatly in a box with a silver bow, tucked underneath her arm. Blitt opened the door of his sled and she gently placed it inside. She stood at the opened passenger door, momentarily making nervous glances back at her gray sled parked beside them.
“Is there something you need in there?” Blitt asked.
“Let me get my things.” She was crying.
The tears hadn’t come yet, but she spoke thinly through them with a swollen throat. From the storage compartment of her sled, she removed a suitcase, and as her crying intensified, she put it into Blitt’s sled beside the dress box. He watched her while she sobbingly sank into the passenger seat, and began to realize that immensity of what she was undergoing. The suitcase meant she had arrived at the dress shop fully aware that she would be leaving with him that very day, never to return. It was, in a way, almost like a kidnapping. The thought of that hit Blitt almost physically when it came to him.
Blitt looked past Priscilla and on off down the length of Bridge street, lined with shop windows and shiny sleek sleds parked alongside them; their bright and reflective surfaces were shimmering in hazy waves of heat splayed out across the horizon. He could not deny having an attraction to this place as he imagined the sort of life she might have had here. His gaze shifted away from the brightness of Bridge Street and resolved once more upon her. Crying much less now, she turned to face him and somehow managed to smile before settling calmly back into the seat.