Captain sent me to pick up that gorram silly dress.
We left Badger’s and he stopped me, scribbling something down on a scrap of paper. “Here,” he said, and
shoved it into my hand. “Go back to that dress shop and get the pink thing for Kaylee. Give ‘em that, and this,”
and he handed me a bag of credits, “and if what the receipt says and what’s left in that bag don’t agree,
Jayne, you and I are gonna have a serious conversation. Dong ma?”
I wanted to ask just how the hell he knew Kaylee’s measurements off the top of his head like that, but it was pretty
clear that he was in no mood for it, and anyway, that wood alcohol shit Badger’d given us was giving me a hell of a
So I walked back to the shop and gave the girl the note and the bag, and she fussed around for a few minutes. Wasn’t
exactly my sort of establishment. All that silk and lace and frippery in one room...makes a man like me powerful uncomfortable.
She brought a dress out from the back room- all pink and white and kinda shiny. I hadn’t really been paying attention
before, when we walked by the shop, but just looking at it I could tell it was the one Kaylee wanted. Might as well have
had her name all over it. “Yeah,” I said, glancing over my shoulder at the door like I was in a hurry. “That’s
the one. Wrap it up good.”
She pulled out a length of brown paper and started folding up the skirts. No idea how she made something that big and puffy
fit down into a little bundle that could go under my arm, but she did. Women have got some kind of magic, I tell you.
“Wait,” I said, just before she hit the sale button. I was thinking about how sometimes Kaylee would be working
on the engine and the band in her hair would break, so it all fell down over her face. She looked real pretty that way, looking
out from under it, but she’d get all irritated and cuss about it and shove it back behind her ears. She didn’t
like her hair in her way. “You got something...I don’t know...something to hold hair back? Something that goes
with the dress?”
“I can get you some ribbon,” she said, all bright and cheery, and I thought about that. Yeah. Kaylee liked ribbons
and bows and all that girl stuff.
“I’d appreciate that,” I told her, and she cut a piece off a big roll of shiny pink ribbon she had behind
the counter. Just exactly the color of the dress. It would look right pretty against her hair.
I walked back to the ship with the dress under my arm and the ribbon folded up all careful-like in my pocket. Didn’t
even try to figure out a way to spend the extra credits without Mal knowing; somehow, he always knew. Got back to Serenity
and gave him the package and the bag. He kind of rolled his eyes.
“She’s gonna look absolutely ridiculous in this, you know.”
I stared at him for a minute, fumbling through my pocket for the ribbon. I ran my thumb over it- smooth and soft, and I knew
that it was shiny. Kaylee was gonna be all wrapped up in that.
“Yeah,” I said. “Like a gorram fool.” I put the ribbon in his hand. “That goes with it.
For her hair.”
I went back to my bunk and locked the door up tight. Found a gun that didn’t need cleaning and cleaned it anyway.
Didn’t need to see her all dolled up like that. Maybe Mal was right, maybe she looked silly.
The picture in my head, where she looked just as shiny as could be...that was better, anyway.