The Salesgirl says the Mannequin is Not for Sale
Marie Antoinette’s shoes are like cakes in pastel colours. She says she needs a friend, the
salesgirl says they don’t sell them here. She tries on a pair of flat shoes, her hair is flat, her
heart is flat. Then her hair becomes a bird nest, sparrows fly in and out. That’s better, she
thinks, licks whipped cream off her fingers. The salesgirl brings more finger food. We need a
splash of colour in the palace, says Marie Antoinette, I ordered hundreds of paints online.
Strawberry Sherbet, Cherry Glaze, Carousel Purple, Pursuit of Happiness, and she giggles.
Then she calls the palace: More shoe-shaped cakes, she says, though it sounds more like an
order. She turns to the salesgirl: I’d like to buy the mannequin. She’s not for sale I’m afraid,
says the salesgirl, who’s been trained to say that, to whoever. I am not Whoever, says Marie
Antoinette, I’m the Queen. She takes the shoes off the counter and starts tearing them apart,
biting them, spitting thread and buckles out. One sparrow leaves her hair, bashes against the
mirror and drops dead. Marie Antoinette picks it up, trembling with rage, starts plucking its
feathers. The salesgirl dials 911. Let her eat cake, says the mannequin. Let her eat cake.
Nora Nadjarian is a Cypriot poet and writer who has been published internationally. Placed or commended in numerous competitions, she recently won the Anthropocene Valentine’s Day Poetry Competition 2022. She has work forthcoming from Broken Sleep books and Poetry International. @NoraNadj