Cosplay

The sign above the booth was simple. Black letters on a white background. The masks and costumes looked the same as the ones being sold on either side. They all cost about twenty dollars each and they were all dedicated to the heroes and villains Marlene had grown up with.

“Be Who You Feel Like You Should Be,” she said as she looked at the table. “I like that.”

“I’m glad you do. May I help you?”

She looked up into a scruffy beard that covered a wrinkled brown face in thick patches. The booth vendor had different colored eyes and he wore a beanie with pretty convincing horns poking out of it. “I don’t know. I’ll know what I want when I see it. Don’t you think it should have been ‘Be Who You Want To Be’?”

“Naw. Lots of people dress up as what they want to be. I’m here to help you be who you should be.”

Marlene lifted on eyebrow but didn’t say any more.

***

She lifted the tiny brown leather outfit up and licked her lips. It was ragged with some kind of fake fur all over it. It was more than a bikini, but not by much and she wished she could have worn it.

“That one calls to you doesn’t it? It was made for you”

“Yeah,” she said, the sound of longing dripping off the word as she spoke. “I remember this from the first movie. I loved her character.”

“I have the matching boots. Why don’t you try it all on?”

“There’s no way that is going to fit me,” Marlene said. She looked down, frowning at her belly. “I don’t have the body for it.”

“There is a dressing room right here,” the vendor said, pointing over his shoulder to a little box with a curtail hanging around it. “Just try it on and see what I mean about it being made for you.”

Marlene bit her lip, but she couldn’t help herself as she headed behind the curtain.

***

The sword vendor yelled at Marlene as she grabbed the weapon off the rack, but he only missed having his head cut of because he fell down while backing away from her.

Marlene, conquerer of the barren wastes; warrior princes of the frozen horde, howled in rage. People looked at her and laughed before screaming and running to keep out of arms reach. She was no longer a cook who the owner kept in the back because he didn’t think she was pretty enough to be a server. She was no longer afraid to talk to boys. She would never again let them laugh at her. She was dressed for battle. She was a barbarian. She would chase them down and remove their laughing tongues.

The little old man watched her charge through the crowd. He scratched at the base of his horn, frowning at the itch from the stupid beanie, and wondered how long it would be before this one got shot. Then he knelt down, collected the yellowish coin that was lying beside her old cloths and popped it into his mouth. “Paid in full,” he said as he turned to begin packing up.

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