Skirt Check
Kate Anger

"Make a fist, Miss Kelly."

Kim makes two fists and holds them against her sides. Her supervisor, Mrs. Finfrock checks to see that her skirt length is no shorter than her knuckles.

"I could send you home," says Mrs. Finfrock.

"It must have shrunk," says Kim.

Kim wants to take off this offending skirt; wants to wave it around her head like a May Day ribbon. She wants to dance like she did last Saturday in the park, everything shimmering and alive. Such power in one little drop under the tongue.

"If you want to remain with Capwell’s, you will honor," something stops Mrs. Finfrock cold. "Let me see your hands."

Kim turns them over slowly. Each nail is painted a different color of pink or peach. She did it this morning when there were no customers. After they dried, she kept slipping them into her mouth, one at a time. This ritual returned her to the park, to the experience of being one with the trees, the band, and the boy with the yellow hair who ran his tongue in between the webs of her hands.

"Our policy clearly states well-manicured hands in conservative colors."

"But these are conservative colors." Kim is three paychecks away from moving out of her parents‚ home, three paychecks away from summer and the city across the bay. "It’s a strategy I’ve employed to maximize the number of nail colors our customers are exposed to." She wiggles her pretty fingers like bells. "See."

First published: May 2002