Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Brown (11/26/09)
TITLE: The Brown Velvet Dress
By Ann van Valkenburg
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She had sewn the dress herself, unable to afford to buy a new ready made dress. Mother had encouraged her to go the dance. “You must overcome your shyness, Mary, if you are to ever find a husband,” Mother had insisted. In her mind, a woman wasn't complete unless she were married with a family. Not one to argue, Mary had meekly capitulated.
The night of the dance she had stood before the full length mirror in her parent's room, staring at her reflection. Her brown eyes matched the dress she wore, and they were bright with excitement, and perhaps a little fear. Mother clasped the one piece of jewelry of any value Mary had, around her neck-her grandmother's pearl choker.
“You look beautiful, my dear,” her mother murmured. Mary turned this way and that surveying herself from all angles. She was a more than adequate seamstress. The dress was beautiful, the brown velvet flowing in soft waves from her waist. It fit her well, she surmised, and was worth every penny she had spent for the cloth.
“Go downstairs,” Mother urged. “Father is waiting for you, darling. All the boys will be wanting to dance with you.”
“Really?'” Mary asked. The prospect was sort of daunting. The only reason she was going to this dance was that its purpose was to introduce young men and women to each other, who didn't already have a “steady”.
“Sure they will, “ Mother said in her reassuring way. “Anyway, you won't be waiting alone, Your friends will be there as well.”
“None of them are afraid to open their mouths,” Mary said, under her breath. “Well, maybe Judith, but she just needs a little encouragement.”
“The same could be said of you, dear.” Mother kissed her on the cheek, and led her to the stairs. Father stood below, holding her cloak for her. Mary had made it as well. It was a soft beige with brown fasteners.
“You are lovely, Mary.” Father beamed, as they walked out the door. “My baby girl is grown up.”
Mary stood not far from the western wall of the ballroom, watching the waltzing couple glide past on the floor. Her friend Darcy, chattered in her ear, but Mary only caught bits of what she was saying. A certain young man had been glancing her way all evening. He had a pleasant smile, wide blue eyes, and hair the color of corn silk. Ordinarily, Mary would have been put off by this kind of scrutiny. For some reason, she found this man's interest to be flattering, and welcome. She had tried to appear pleasant, without staring.
“And then he fell on the floor laughing—Mary! You haven't heard a word I've said!” complained Darcy. She followed Mary's line of sight, and grinned.
“He is rather handsome, I think, Mary. He's been watching you all evening. The next dance is girl's choice. Why don't you ask him to dance?”
Mary opened her eyes. She had been bold that night, and asked the young man to dance. He was to be her destiny, for one dance let to a date, then another date, culminating in a wedding six weeks later. They had enjoyed 46 years of good times and bad; the good far outweighing the bad; despite his death from cancer the previous year.
Her hand flew to her chest, and she glanced over to the nightstand, upon which sat her heart pills.
No. It was time.
Mary dressed with care. She was lucky. Her weight had changed little over the years, and she had taken special pains to ensure the brown velvet dress would withstand the ravages of time. She struggled a little with the catch on the pearl choker, but her determination paid off.
She lay down on the bed just as her left arm became numb. She closed her eyes, feeling herself drifting as the second pain struck. Then she saw him-in a meadow, arms outstretched, and behind him, Mother and Father. She hurried over the foot bridge and into Eternity.
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