Anniversary

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


When she put on her wedding dress, it was clear that the zip hadn't a chance in hell of doing up. The brittle lace dug into her fleshy arms and there were fulvous patches along the hem.  She shrugged the sleeves up as far as they would go and stretched her arms up above her head.  There was a creak as she did so; the stiffened corset moved seismically inside its ancient satin bindings but stayed intact.

An image came to her of her stout old body bursting forth, flesh escaping the unyielding cage, and it made her laugh.  The sound rumbled up from deep under the rolls of ancient silk skirts.

With liver-spotted hands, she lifted the vague cloud-coloured wisps of hair that floated uncertainly about her solid shoulders, and pulled them up on top of her head.  She twisted them loosely and pushed in an ivory comb.  It was missing some teeth, fallen victim to years of dressing up; the veil long since grown brittle, torn and discarded in some long-forgotten childhood game.  In her heart, she heard the echoes of her daughters arguing about who would wear it, her own voice soothing and fluttering, helping them hold their vibrant orange locks.  Jim's hair.  Her granddaughter had the Clarkson red hair too, though hers curled in tiny silken question marks about her ears and she stamped her foot when the worn comb slithered out.

The satin slippers lay forlorn in the bent cardboard box, the tissue soft and faded.  She thought they looked like little bodies whose souls had flown. Then she thought that growing old was no excuse for thinking such morbid horseshit and it was well past time for a belt of something strong.  She kicked the box under the carved wooden bed.

On bare, swollen feet, she shuffled down the half-lit passage, holding her skirts under one arm with an unconscious grace, and made her way downstairs.

Jim stood at the bottom, holding a small red glass; her mother's set that only came out at Christmas.  He must have gone all the way up in the outside loft to find it.  It was not the sight of him in his suit, the one that had done service for his own and his daughter's weddings, as well as too many funerals to bear, that made her breath catch and her throat hurt.  It was the thought of him methodically unfolding the ladder and making his careful, unsteady way up it.  She looked away too late, the huge tear spilling down into the soft ravines of her cheek. Above the too-large knot of his tie, she saw him swallow.  His voice was gruff.

"You look beautiful. Now drink the goddam whisky and let's eat.  Happy anniversary."

16 comments:

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    1. Blimey. Are you my sister? Thank you!

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  2. I so look forward to your little treats. Thank you!

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    1. Its really my pleasure, lovely to share them.

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  3. Delightful; thank you!

    -Marianne

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    1. Marianne, you are most welcome

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  4. Don't know why you are writing again, but thank you.

    Sandra

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    1. Because the logs in the stream seem to have come unstuck. Perhaps it's the weather?

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  5. As an " older gent" your words touched my heart. Thank you yet again

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    1. Delighted! Wasn't sure you had red hair, but I wrote that for you.

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    1. You are too kind! so pleased that anyone wants to read them..!

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  7. Hello Elizabeth,
    What a touching story of love, loss and ageing. You absolutely held us there in your wonderful words as we witnessed it all. How delightfully you have penned these characters and how readily we identify with so much that you write here.

    Perhaps we all find our breath taken away as we face our own mortality, as we know only too well the wedding dress which no longer fits as it did, or the love which has matured and deepened from its first flush so many years ago.

    The short story we have always believed to be one of the most difficult of literary forms. You have made it your own!

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  8. Thank you both for such a kind constructive comment. So lovely to hear from you and glad you enjoyed it! Hope that all is well and peaceful in your world?

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  9. Thanks for letting me know you were back. This, so perfectly visual, reminds me of my wedding vid I found in my dead father's apt. Taken by Dad's partner, I had never seen it, I suppose because Anne didn't have her glasses and so much of it was out of focus. I watched it with a bottle of wine. Not a very good idea.

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    1. Back, schmack. Your comment, also so visual was lovely. Thanks you. And never mix booze and memories. Big x

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Please leave a comment if you can be remotely bothered - anything you have to say is valuable and I absolutely love hearing from you all. Elizabeth