November 12, 1983
Except for the hiccups, the girl in the full-length mirror, stood, crying without sound, black mascara streaking her cheeks. I poked a couple fingers under the high lacey neckline and scratched.
Gram appeared behind me, wearing the same lavender chiffon dress she wore in her casket six months ago. “I’ve seen wrong in my life but this takes the cake,” she said, crinkling up her nose. “Forcing an eighteen-year-old girl to marry any twenty-seven year old, much less a scallywag. Your mother’s crazy.”
The tops of my arms itched, too, and I rubbed them, not responding to Gram’s comment, letting the lace do the scratching. My reflection squirmed in the white A-line dress. Its bodice and skirt were taffeta, the sleeves and fabric above the bustline to neck was lace. I hated the dress.
“It’s cheap-looking but pretty. More your mother’s taste.” She stepped beside me and fingered the lace on my sleeve and tisked. “What did they make this out of? Synthetic? It must itch like crazy.” She looked around the room. “Well, we’ll have to take care of this.”
“How?” I asked.
“The best thing you could do is take off that darned thing and run, child,” she said. “Pay no mind to your mother’s pooh either.”
“You know I can’t.”
“Then here,” Gram said, reaching for a pair of scissors in a near-by drawer. “Take these.”
“What on earth for?” I asked.
“To cut the lace off that darned thing. If it bothers you, get rid of it!”
“Mom’ll kill me if I do that. She’s so proud of this dress,” I said. “She bought it at a bridal shop auction in Georgia. It cost her one hundred and fifty-three dollars.”
“Yeah. Yeah. I know all about it,” Gram said. “Never thought to ask you to go along.”
“I was working,” I said.
Gram grunted and grabbed my right hand and shoved the scissors handle up into my palm. “Besides, you don’t want to go through with this day. Right?”
I nodded and said, “But Mom will be upset if I don’t.” According to her, I needed someone to take care of me since I see people no one else does. She believes I’m nuts.
“Pooh on your mother. Just cut that mess off!” She looked down, moving the skirt off my shoes. “And, take off those ridiculous things. They don’t fit. I’m sure they’re bunching up your toes.”
“But they sort of match the lace on my dress.” I’d had them on for five minutes, and I was already going from foot to foot to get relief.
“If you don’t look too close.” Gram crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t see how girls today can walk in skinny heels. What are they, five inches?”
“No Gram. Three.”
“What’d she pay for them? Ten dollars,” Gram said.
“Only eight,” I said.
“Your mother ought to be shot,” Gram groaned. “She couldn’t even get you new ones.”
“She got them at an exclusive bridal boutique, Gram.”
She looked the scissors in my trembling hand. “Now, cut.”
“Don’t make me come and do it. There’s no telling what I’ll do with my energies. You know how it is with me now.”
“Okay. But —” My hand shook as I held the scissors up and wiggled their beaks into the lacey sleeve.
“Hurry before they come,” Gram said.
I swallowed a ragged lump, readying myself to snip. “But, you know how she is.”
“Today’s a good day to stand up to her, dear.”
The door to the bridal room creaked opened.