“But it itches, and it smells funny.”
“And the arms are way too long. Who made this anyway?”
He held the suit by its collar, lifting it in front of me while he looked straight into my eyes, nodding slightly.
“I’ve already tried it on and I don’t like it. I think maybe it’s somebody else’s. Can’t you make me another one?”
He smiled, lifted it a few more inches into the air, gently reassuring me,
“You’ll be fine. You’ll grow into it. I made it just for you, and it won’t work for anybody else.”
I turned my back to him, raising my right arm to the square. He slipped the sleeve over my hand. I shifted, raising my other arm, and the suit dropped its woolen weight onto my hunched back. I shivered and shook until it fell into place.
The heavy suit hung awkwardly, the shoulders poking out inches past my own, my fingertips barely showing under the cuffs. It had deep, deep pockets, and buttons that, though rather beautiful, were hard to push through the buttonholes. Its blood red pant lining left a tint on my foot tops, and stained my undergarments.
When I turned to say something more, the Tailor was gone. He left behind only a small repair kit, tucked into a soft white cotton envelope.
I walked out into the street. The sunlight stung my eyes and the cacophony of sounds confused me, until I found my mother and she took my hand, pushing the cuff of the suit up to my elbows.
“Nice suit!” she said, kissing me on my forehead.
I don’t remember at what point I finally came to accept the suit. On good day’s I forgot I was wearing it. And on really good days I was able to easily button it up; could even dance in it. And it became strangely more supple when I sang.
But on bad days, when it was dark and rainy and cold, I just wanted out of it. But it would not come off. It had attached itself to me. Sometimes I could not breathe under its weight, and the heat was stifling. It took years for me to discover that the repair kit had a fan in it, which I could wave before me, allowing the movement of air to evaporate the sweat of struggle.
I have worn this suit for nearly six decades now. I look back and think about how strange it felt when it was new. So strange. But I had no words to explain it at the time. And in the time between then and now I have pretty much forgotten how it felt to be without it.
My hands hang rather thin skinned from the sleeves. The cuffs are worn, but they sit where they are meant to sit now. And the shoulders are situated right where they should be. I have to remind myself to stand up straight. When I do, the vent in the back lays flat. The pockets are filled with all sorts of treasures, some of them I’ve even forgotten. And those button holes have happily given way to the shiny buttons down the front. I’m afraid my inherited thigh structure has necessitated some re-stitching of seams. I have to stop myself from looking jealously at other girls whose legs let light shine between them when they walk.
Sadly, the pocket over my left chest keeps opening up, and the lining pokes out in an uncomely fashion. I try and try to stitch it up, but the threads come loose and my heart peeks through.
I have not seen the Tailor since the day he put this suit on me, though I’ve seen his handiwork and have heard he is still in business. Sometimes I talk to him, thinking that he might be somewhere on the other side of the curtain listening in. I ask him what he was thinking when he designed this custom-fitted suit of mine. I might have preferred a lighter one. And maybe one made of double knit fabric, that would give way more easily.
On the other hand, I have worn it long enough to recognize how amazing it is that he would make a suit just for me, according to measurements only he knows. How did he know which way I would grow? Or which portions needed extra padding? Or that my suit needed many pockets for my stuff?
This custom-fitted suit of mine still itches, but mostly at night. It works out though, because he also gave me someone who will scratch my back every time I ask.