It was still there. And it was just as she remembered. The orange marmalade organza dress, its chiffon layers still crisp as new, flowed through her fingers like the finest of silks. Miranda plunked down into the antiquated rocker next to the cedar chest while smoky light filtered through the attic window slats, hugging the dress to her chest. Unconsciously, she tucked an escaped tendril of her soft white hair back beneath the dust cap.
And she allowed the memories to wash over her, enveloping her like a scratchy, wool blanket—warm, but abrasive . . .
Miranda was just 15 years old when she met him. Towering over her in all of his 6’3” height, his very size dwarfed her, making her feel feminine just by walking beside him. They became best friends first, followed by a season of self-discovery and sacrifice as they fell in love, Matthew and Miranda, as naturally as the flowers had bloomed in the meadows where they walked. She had never felt pretty before, her strawberry-orange hair always a thorn in her side. He said it made her uniquely beautiful and called her his carrot-top lassie. Like two peas in a pod, they were kindred spirits, each often able to finish the other one’s sentences and it was rare to see one without the other.
“Look what I got for you, my carrot-top lassie,” Matthew held a gaily wrapped package in front of him, “Open it and see what you think!”
Miranda carefully unwrapped the present, anticipating the emerald green frock they had admired together in an elite shop not long before.
“Oh, Matt, you shouldn’t have,” she began—then gasped as the gaudy orange frills spilled onto her lap.
Speechless, she gazed from the taffeta concoction to her sweetheart’s love-filled eyes and stammered out a hesitant “thank you.”
“See, it’s the exact shade of your gorgeous hair! I had it made especially for you. No one will be able to keep their eyes off you at the party.”
“That’s true enough, but not for a good reason! Why, honey, I’d look like a Halloween nightmare! Matt, I know you meant well, but you’ve got to take it back! I could never wear this.”
Even now, the gray-haired lady sitting in the attic could see the disappointment and hurt in her love’s expressive eyes..
“Why, oh, why did I hurt him so? And all on account of my silly pride!”
Matt had given the dress to a thrift shop, replacing it with the green one in Stacy’s Boutique, and Miranda remembered preening in front of her mirror for an hour before the party, happily imagining her dazzling entrance . . .
Miranda’s tears fell on the orange organdy dress that she had sentimentally purchased back from the thrift store several weeks after that fateful party, her bruised heart swelling as she tried to release decades of pain from this one shattering incident from her past.
Matthew’s relationship with her had subtly changed after the party, and not long afterwards, he was drafted into the service of his country. They had lost touch with each other through the months of separation. Miranda eventually married someone else, but she could never recapture or develop the same feelings for her husband as she experienced with Matthew. Childless, the couple went through the motions of a happy marriage, managing pretty well to fool others, as well as themselves. When he died from a fatal heart attack two years later, Miranda was left alone again with empty dreams of what might have been.
Now, 30 years later, Miranda had seen Matthew’s picture in a local newspaper. His receding hair was gray at the temples and he wore glasses, but his smile, albeit not as bright, was clearly recognizable. He was returning to his hometown after years of extensive travels, “seeking to reconcile with his past,” the reporter stated.
Miranda had not been back at her parent’s homestead until today, where the past was catching up on the heels of the present. She watched his approach through her tears, and the long-buried emotions overwhelmed them as they fell into each other’s arms, two peas in a pod again at last.
The Country Herald
Matthew and Miranda, together at last, were joined in holy matrimony this day. The bride fashionably garbed in a vintage orange silk dress, her radiant hair specially dyed for the occasion . . .
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