She wasn’t a Cashmere sweater despite all expectations. She wasn’t even similar to one. The carefully woven threads were uneven; in lieu of the warm velvety feel, it was prickly and rough; and no one wore it, at least not for long. Her name is Cashmere.
Her mom braided her hair slowly, unbothered by the clock’s hand approaching 7:45, fifteen minutes past the time for Cashmere to leave. She didn’t like braids; they were childish, and at the age of fourteen in 2009, it was out of style and utterly childish. She tapped her fingertips silently at the bottom of her seat, impatiently.
“How does that look?” Her mother asked quietly.
Cashmere saw her mother’s smiling face through the mirror. It was a haggard face, with dark circles around her eyes, and slightly chapped lips. Her mother had never been beautiful, but she never looked tired – until about a year ago when she got stuck in that rut.
Her mother insisted upon Cashmere calling her by first name. ‘Mother’ brought unpleasant connotations, and “why call someone something different, when their name is already so beautiful?” Cashmere, at seven years old thought it to be a valid reason, and said nothing to contradict it. In fact, she had taken it slightly too seriously and called her friend, Mavis, Fiona and the bully, Homer, Lorraine. This caused her 2nd grade teacher to question Cashmere’s mental status and for a reason Cashmere could still not understand – her mother felt even worse when called ‘mother’ after the petty incident. Cashmere, herself, found it to be rather amusing and often thought of replacement names for those in her class.
“I’ve got to get to school now, Serena,” She said, snapping her mother out of her trance.
“Yes darling. Don’t sit next to a man on the bus, alright?” Serena said it five days a week, every morning before Cashmere would leave for school.
“Yes Serena, I won’t.”
As always, Cashmere left without breakfast in her stomach. Her mother believed it made women fatter, and two meals a day was perfectly adequate. Her stomach had gotten used to it, and did not rumble in the mornings. Had she left early, she would have stopped by the smoothie stall on the way to the bus stop, but she knew she was already subject to a late stamp.
Bus forty-seven came soon enough, and she, despite her mother’s warning, sat next to a middle aged man, considering it was the very last seat. It was almost automatic for Cashmere to fall asleep on the bus, and she was fascinated by how her body instinctively knew when to wake up in time for her stop.
She hugged her backpack in front of her and gradually her eyes closed into a light sleep. She never dreamt during her morning naps; her mind only sent images during her afternoon naps. However, she found herself, as she was seated next to the man in the business suit, she saw a rough and calloused hand, slowly moving itself up the flesh of someone’s leg. The hand made its way to the girl’s thigh, and the skirt creased in relation to the man’s hand.
Cashmere quickly put her hand by her thighs, relieved to find the man’s hand absent. Her legs felt warmer than usual, however, and she glanced at the man seated next to her. His hands were folded together and placed on his lap. They weren’t smooth, but they looked… clean.
“Is something wrong young lady?” He asked skeptically. She could tell he had mistaken her for staring at his crotch. His hands were, after all, near it.
“No sir. Sorry.” Cashmere’s fingers leapt to the red button and pressed it out of reflex. She got up quickly, taking no second glance at the man, and skipped out of the bus.