The mall was empty that day as the girl strolled through the hallway gazing at the merchandise behind the glass display windows of the shops. Beautiful dresses, and exotic shoes with six-inch heels so high she dared to think of walking in them because she found herself clumsy even in her four-inch pumps. Lovely tops made of lace, chenille, denim, and other materials she did not recognize, was accompanied by their matching bottoms drew her attention as she passed the store, enticing her to stop in and try them on or something else that caught her attention in the brightly lit store. She knew she only had a few dollars left from her paycheck, after she paid her rent, utilities, and daycare costs for her son, so she resisted the pull within her to enter the store.
The cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven wafted throughout the mall drifting upward to the glass cathedral ceiling. Doves resting atop of gleaming silver beams running along the top of the roof cooed soothing sounds, drowning out the quiet classical melodies coming from speakers located throughout the mall. As she strolled along looking forward, not paying attention, sundries, candy stores, the girl understood why she felt spooked since entering the mall. The smell of the hamburgers, oriental spices, and other food aromas flooded towards her as she entered the food court, but the people were missing. All throughout the mall, no other people were around. The mall was empty but still contained life.
A dimly lit corridor to her left caught her attention; the girl strolled down the hallway, and no shops were down this hall, only gyprock walls to her right and left, which one day might be other stores opening in the three-story building. Ahead, she saw bright light spilling out into the hallway. Curious as to what created such brightness down the dim hallway, she cautiously moved forward. Finally reaching the display window, the girl saw the most beautiful dress she had ever seen; it was no formal gown, no party dress, only a simple white dress. Indescribable but beautiful. It was made of fabric so exotic it could not have been created anywhere on the earth as far as she was concerned. She entered the store because she wanted that dress, and would spend her rent money if necessary, not pay her utilities, and make alternate daycare arrangements for her son.
The man, old but still brawny, stood much higher than she; she noted his dress was simple, he only wore a tan long sleeve shirt and brown corridor slacks. His black graying hair and oddly colored skin shone, and his kindly lips turned upward slightly when he smiled. She could not see his eyes, the brightness from the lighting obscured them
“You can’t have that dress,” he told her, smiled, and then said, “its cost is beyond any that you can pay.”
The man appeared sincerely sorrowful that she could not have the dress as he reached his hand out to her. The girl looked down at it unsure why he wanted to shake her hand, but hesitantly she took the man’s hand. His firm handshake held her hand comfortingly, a warm,, soothing heat covered her hand and radiated through her body giving her a temporary peace. The girl released her handshake, smiled at the man, and walked out of the store.
“Here, I have that dress in my store,” she heard a voice say to her. The girl turned, and the man stood behind her grinning. “Come this way,” he said.
His dark eyes and condescending glare unnerved the girl as he stood watching her. She wanted to run but the desire that has the dress overwhelming, she disregarded the small voice within her, telling her to come back later and followed the man as his stooped over from limped away. She entered the store. The dim lighting, darker than that in the hallway, it almost covered the man; but as she stared at him, he seemed to lose his limp as he stepped around the back of the counter. His body grew straight and his ancient skin turned smooth as the signs of age dissipated from his face, and his old tattered dark clothing transformed into a designer black silk shirt, tie, and pants. Nevertheless, his dark grin seemed to grow even more sinister,, and he spread the dress across the counter in front of her. The girl’s eyes lit up as they scanned the lovely dress; the same color, style, and material the dress appeared the same. She touched it, the dress’s soft material felt nice to her touch, nevertheless, it was not the same dress, something was missing. Its exotic beauty was amazing, and the garment was close enough in appearance to the first, she forgave the missing part that made the first dress spectacular. The girl asked the man the cost of the dress.
The man told her “debit your checking account to zero.”
The girl lost all reason, the longing for the dress controlling her, she gave him her deposit book and wrote the check out for its balance.
A day later, the girl wore her beautiful dress, and everyone loved it. They wanted to know where she purchased the dress from, but she could not tell them and the day after she had worn it, she and her girlfriends looked for the store but could not find the dim corridor off the food court.
Before wearing it again, the girl figured she needed to clean the dress. Its instruction said, wash in lukewarm water. She carefully followed the instruction, making sure she did not ruin her dress and hung it in her bath to let it dry. She woke up feeling beautiful that day, showered and put on her dress. The dress felt snug as she zipped it up, so she pulled at the fabric to loosen its tautness; she heard a ripping sound. The seam of the dress had torn, and the once beautiful material was now ragged, and its once smooth texture knotted. The girl cried. She had loved the dress, and everyone else did too.
The girl’s friends did not believe her and grew angry with her, they said she hid the secret location of the store and was selfish. She had to borrow money from her parents to pay her rent, and go to her employer for an advance in pay to keep her son in daycare. She and her son sat in darkness for three months until she could afford the deposit the company required after it cut off her electricity because she could not pay her bill for two months. Social services almost took her son away when he developed a cold, and told the attendants at daycare he and his mother had no heat. They felt her an unfit mother and she had to go through a year of monthly home inspections and counseling sessions as mandated by the judge to keep child in her home.
Over the years, the girl remembered the dress and decided to learn patience within herself. The garment, only worn once, was not worth the price she had paid. As she aged her wisdom increased, her son grew up, moved away, and had his own family, and she sought to improve herself. She did. Happy in life, and satisfied in what she had grew into, she decided to buy herself a new dress for the company’s Christmas party. She went to the mall to look for a dress, older now, her tastes had grown defined and some of the stores, no longer appealing to her, she was no longer lured into glancing into every display window. The woman approached the food court, she was alone again, and the dim corridor was once present again.
The woman entered the corridor, and the bright light once again spilled out into the hallway so the woman walked toward the store. The man stood inside, still smiling kindly, he waved her in. She approached the counter and stared at him, still in the same simple dress he wore before, he stood tall and looked down at her. She saw his eyes this time, they were white and appeared knowing, loving, and sympathetic. He held the beautiful dress in his hand, the same one she had saw so many years ago and laid up out a top of the marble counter. It was beautiful, still as lovely as before. She wanted it, but this time would not pay more than her shopping budget; she had learned self-control.
“I am so happy you came back, the dress is yours.,” The man told her.
“How much is it?” the woman asked.
The man replied, “give me your debit and trust me.”
The woman thought for a bit. The man’s nature was calming, and she sensed no deceit in him. She handed him the debit and watched as the man placed her card into the machine and debited one dollar. He put the dress in a beautiful box and waved goodbye as she left the store.
James 1:3-4 (KJV) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.