Camille had only just arrived at Neiman’s, but already she carried an armload of clothes to try on. A black silk Chanel sheath. Some lacy La Perla undergarments. Givenchy slacks that carried a price tag of more than the average family’s mortgage payment. And a few other sundries that had caught her attention. She had her eye on a sumptuous pair of Balmain calfskin stiletto boots, but her hands were quite full; she’d have to come back for them later. Stopping for a moment to balance the clothes she held in her arms, she glanced at her reflection in a nearby mirror. Her brunette chignon looked as it had when she'd fixed it earlier: flawless, without a single errant strand. Briskly, she made her way toward the fitting rooms; she didn’t need to ask where they were.
Bill had absentmindedly handed her his American Express card and waved her off as he pored over financial documents of some sort; what kind, she never really knew. Why the man worried about money, she couldn’t fathom. He’d never know what it was really like to worry about money, she mused as she entered the stall and hung up the articles of clothing. Not like back home. All those years ago, when she’d lived in that insignificant little town in southern Illinois, she never dreamed that she would one day be living in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, in a spectacular high-rise that overlooked the lakefront. She’d never have pictured herself patronizing high-end department stores and buying an endless array of gowns, handbags and shoes, things that would give her a moment of joy but eventually end up stored in her enormous closet, forgotten. The only things she had dreamed about back then were wearing clothes that weren’t hand-me-downs and not being hungry.
After zipping herself into the Chanel dress, she studied her reflection critically, feeling a longing she couldn’t quite place, a longing she felt often these days. Loneliness? She had friends, people who attended the lavish dinner parties she and Bill gave. She had a wonderful husband who provided for her, who ensured that she was never wanting for anything, at least when it came to material comforts. But something wasn’t there, something unidentifiable. When she was finished trying on the clothes she’d selected, she walked towards the cashier to ring up her purchases, suddenly feeling tired. But on impulse, she veered towards the cosmetics department to browse through the multitude of face creams and lipsticks on display, the riot of colors and elegant packaging competing for her attention. While perusing the latest collection of Dior lip glosses, she noticed the fragrance counter and decided to sample a few.
Just as she was about to leave the perfume counter empty-handed, Camille noticed a familiar shape. The squat little bottle of Joy de Patou was unmistakable; she had, after all, worn the fragrance religiously at one point in her life. It had been the first present Bill had ever given her, and she’d worn it every day for years after. It had been a while, though, since she’d last worn it. She remembered how different things had been for her and Bill back then, with their whole lives ahead, just waiting to be lived. Each time she’d dabbed the perfume behind her ears, she’d thought of Bill and smiled. Bill was different than any man she’d ever known, and they were going to be so happy when they were married, she remembered thinking. Breathing in the scent again, she sighed. It felt good to remember.
As she carefully placed two Loewe suitcases in the trunk of her sleek black Aston Martin, she paused, looking up at the vast estate she shared with Bill. She would have to telephone him tomorrow and explain, of course. Camille sat in the driver's seat, twisting the champagne diamond solitaire ring she wore around her finger, contemplating what she was about to do. Then she pressed the button to start the car and drove away, heading south.