The Red Velvet Dress
A short story
Welcome to today’s post on Rosy’s Reading Room, Sunday’s relaxing part of Rosy’s Ramblings, where I post twice a week. Wednesday’s post can be about anything that has inspired me, fired me up, or merely piqued my interest. I try to lift the mundane into something magical to enhance your day.
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Doreen folded the exquisite dress neatly and wrapped it lovingly back into the tissue paper before carefully laying it into the beautiful box where she kept it. She had only worn it once for her daughter’s graduation ceremony all those years ago. Where had the time gone? She had hoped to wear it again one day, but that day had never come.
Bob had been gone for almost four years now. What would he have thought about the present situation? She wished with all her heart that he were here to talk things through. What was she going to do?
The gold-edged embossed invitation to her daughter’s wedding was propped up on the mantlepiece of Doreen’s neat and tidy thatched cottage. The wedding was tomorrow at eleven o’clock and the reception was being held in some fancy country house hotel with parkland vistas and doubtless a bill to make your eyes water at the end of it all. She felt obliged to offer a contribution towards the cost, being as she was the mother of the bride, but the rift between her and her only child had been seismic and she hadn’t heard back from Annabelle.
When Annabelle had first mentioned Chris, Doreen had never heard her daughter sound so happy. Gradually, Chris’s name was dropped into the conversation more and more until eventually, Doreen asked when they would get to meet him. That was when Annabelle dropped the bombshell.
Bob had been shocked but the fact that his daughter was happy was all that mattered. Doreen had felt very differently and refused to meet Annabelle’s partner. That was five years ago.
Saturday morning dawned and Doreen hadn’t slept a wink. She thought about all the times she had imagined her daughter’s wedding day and how it would be a celebration of love and happiness. Bridesmaids and page boys milling around in flouncy dresses and cute outfits; champagne flutes passed around, and hairdressers, make-up artists, and florists fussing over her daughter. But she wasn’t a part of this exciting and very special day. Today, as she sat alone in her lounge at home staring into space, a cup and saucer balanced on her knee, she couldn’t have imagined ever feeling so sad and lonely. If only Bob were here, she thought, her lips tight and her face taut with anger. Annabelle had gone too far this time.
When the big double doors opened into the Registry Office, Annabelle scanned the guests for a sign of her mother: a snazzy fascinator or an over-the-top expensive hat, but there was nothing.
The first few bars of Canon in D by Pachelbel began, and it was time to embark on the next phase of her life, leaving the old one behind her and starting a new one with Christine. Her Mum would clearly not be a part of her new life. That had been made perfectly clear by her absence.
As the two women faced each other in the oak-panelled Registry Office and the ceremony was about to begin, a commotion at the back of the room caused everybody to turn around and see what all the fuss was about. The huge wooden doors opened and there, in the red velvet dress that she had worn for Annabelle’s graduation ceremony, was Doreen. She looked radiant with a beautiful matching fascinator and clutch bag and was even wearing the Lily of the Valley brooch that Annabelle had bought her as a Mother’s Day gift when she was a little girl, helped of course, by her Dad with the payment, but Annabelle had chosen it and contributed a share of her pocket money towards it. Her mother had been thrilled.
Doreen smiled at Annabelle from the back of the room and nodded before taking a seat quietly while everybody settled down again after the Registrar had firmly asked all those gathered together to focus on the reason that they were there, which was to celebrate the marriage of Annabelle and Christine.
As the ceremony began, Doreen took out a white cotton handkerchief from her bag and dabbed her eyes. How could she have been so narrow-minded? The only thing that mattered was that Annabelle had found love and from the way that her daughter looked into Christine’s eyes, she had never been happier.
Do you have something special that brings back memories? I would love to hear your story.
This story was first published on Medium but has been adapted.
Ah, Chris is short for Christine! I should have guessed. But it went right over my head!
I had a piece of red velvet cake for dessert last night. It was good and so was your dress! But wait a minute: in that photo I saw red hair and red roses. But where is that red velvet dress?