Lydia shuffled to her sewing basket, one hand on her arthritic hip. When she bent over to pick up her darning egg, she felt an extra twinge in the hip, and a headache began to bloom behind her left eye.
No one darns socks any more, thought Lydia. Wasteful. Her supplies gathered, she shuffled toward her chair, the one by the window where the light was best. Halfway there, she stopped to rest, leaning against her sturdy oak table and glancing out the window. It was a gloomy day, with a morning mist shrouding her yard, but she could see that her bushes needed trimming. She hadn’t felt strong enough to work outside for months; she scowled at the scraggly shrubs. The headache was getting worse.
When she sat at the window seat, Lydia realized that she had the darning supplies but not the socks, still in her bureau drawer. She closed her eyes. I’ll rest a bit, she thought. Just until the headache goes away.
When she opened her eyes some time later, the day had brightened considerably. Lydia’s headache was gone; she felt more energetic than she’d felt in years. Tossing aside the darning egg, she decided to go outside, maybe to trim the shrubs. Maybe just take a long walk. Her legs tingled with intentions.
But as Lydia pushed herself up from the chair, her eyes were drawn to a flash of white through her open bedroom door. Henry’s left his pajamas on the bed again, she thought with mild irritation. Yet as she walked toward the bedroom, she chided herself for the thought; Henry had been dead for thirty years. What was that on the bed?
She stopped at the door and stared, her heart pounding. There was a long white gown spread out on her quilt. Lydia’s mind raced. Who could have left it there, and when? She looked over her shoulder, half expecting to see an intruder in a ski mask. But that was absurd; surely masked intruders take things. They don’t leave strange garments on a person’s bed. Lydia took a step into the bedroom and peered around. No one was there. She walked to the bed and sat next to the white gown.
For a moment, she was reminded of the dress she’d worn to marry Henry, sixty years ago. There were echoes of that dress in the draping of the neckline, the flare of the sleeves. But when Lydia touched the fabric of this garment, she could tell it was something finer by far than the dress she had sewn herself for seven dollars. It was finer, in fact, than anything she had ever owned.
Lydia was no longer thinking about intruders, no longer wondering who had left the gown for her, or how. She picked up the dress and held it against her bosom, noting the luxurious feel of the fabric, and the exquisite embellishments—silver threads, buttons of pearl. I wonder, she thought. Could I…would this fit me?
She suddenly felt an urgency to wear the gown. Her body had thickened considerably in the decades since she’d married Henry, but she felt that putting on this garment was something she needed to do. The gown would fit her. She shed her housedress and slipped easily into the beautiful garment.
Lydia moved to the full-length mirror inside the closet door. There was a curious sound in the room, gradually loudening—whooshings and clickings, odd beeps and whistles. The noise rested behind her eye where the headache had been, but Lydia swatted the annoying sounds away as she would swat a fly. She was exhilarated. The gown fit her perfectly. Lydia had never felt lovelier; she leaned toward the mirror and smoothed the dress at her shoulders and hips. She laughed and impulsively gave a girlish twirl, pivoting on one foot.
The clickings and beeps returned, but Lydia determined to push the sound away; she wanted to concentrate on the gown and on another sound that had now appeared at the edges of her hearing. Someone was calling her name—someone familiar and beloved. She tore herself away from the mirror and walked toward the voice.
The caller seemed to be outside; Lydia opened the door…
…into another country, where He was waiting for her, holding out His arms with joy. Not Henry, but her True Love, the One who had loved her from her first breath to her last. She ran to Him in her beautiful gown, lighter than air.
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