Dr. Herman’s wife

4 04 2011


A women shows up with Dr. Herman on his round to inspect the samples we are producing for his upcoming fashion show. She is very pale, very thin and aggressively aloof. She not only doesn’t acknowledge us at all, but she acts like she stepped into a leper colony and is praying to get out of here without catching what we have.

She hurries to disappear into the private room with those mirrors that is off limits for all of us.

They stay there for a long time. We can hear them arguing and complaining through the thin walls. She is trying on the samples and Petra sighs and rolls her eyes listening to the whiny complaints coming from there.

He berates her.

“Honey, this would look fabulous, but you seriously have to drop some weight. What is it with you? I know that you can do better.”

We all hold our breath and are very quiet.

Veronica is close to tears. She whispers.

“She just had a baby two weeks ago. What does he expect? She’s so skinny already. What else does he want?”

I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself and pipe up: “He’s such a fat pig himself. I can’t believe he’d dare to talk to her like this”

“She was his patient two years ago, a ballet dancer strung out on coke. After three kids, this is just unbelievable.” Petra adds.

“You mean she was his patient, here?” I ask.

“That’s right. And now he’s trying to make her into a strung out model. Disgusting, if you ask me”, Veronica sighs. Obviously, this isn’t the first time she’s heard this.

“You mean, she was his patient and now they are married? Isn’t that illegal?” I gasp.

“Not in Austria.” Petra explains.

No, not in Austria. My father, the powerful judge, married his 16-year-old girlfriend when I was seven. I remember her grandmother showing up at our house before the wedding. It was quite traumatic. She screamed at my dad and my mother in her broken Czechoslovakian accent: “Girl is only 16 years old. You dirty old man, stay away from girl”, she waggled her finger at my horrified mother, who just shrugged her beaten down shoulders. My father laughed in the grandmother’s prune face and pushed her out the door.

“Yeah. And so what? What are you gonna do about it, old hag?”

They got married a few weeks later, her belly swollen from the boy he planted inside her. I was the only one, refusing to stand in line to congratulate the happy couple, even though my little sister pushed me and shoved me into the line. I stood there; silently brooding and everybody laughed at the jealous little girl who did not want to lose her dad to this pathetic girl who needed a dad too. I needed my dad more and fuck her baby. Fuck that bitch that stole him from us. I wasn’t gonna make this easy on him, but he, in love and flushed wit lust did not notice my absence.

When they finally step out of the fitting room, the women looks even paler. She has to hold on to his arm, that’s how shaky she is.

Now, that I get a closer look at her, it hits me. Jesus, that’s the woman in the catalogue holding the baby. What the hell is he doing to her?

I know what. She is anorexic and hungry. It takes one to know one. She is me, but more successful in her way to be thin. Shame and sadness engulf me, mixed with envy. I want to be her.

She stares at our lunch, barely concealing her own envy.

“Can we get something to eat?” she asks with her eyes to the floor.

“Later, baby. You had your breakfast. You don’t need that now. You’re not hungry, you’re just nervous.” He leads her out of the studio, grabbing her arm quite forcefully.

“You had to have this damn dessert last night, remember?” he grins, “There is a price to pay for gluttony. You’ll live. I promise”

I hate him. I mean, I hate him anyway, but this puts a whole new spin on how much I detest him.

A few more months, just a few more weeks and I’ll be out of here, back in America. I’m wrong. But at this moment, I don’t know that yet.



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