No More Black Dresses

Posted by on Nov 13, 2011 in Short Stories | 0 comments

No More Black Dresses

by Maria Rey de Souza

Mrs. Hemingway traveled through a hurricane of silk scarves, black dresses, and 4-inch heels until she finally reached her daughter’s room.

“It’s the wrong color,” complained an irritable Maggie.  Her mother, Janice Hemingway, was standing in the doorway of Maggie’s room with an elegant, rich colored blue-green gown in hand.  “If it isn’t black, I’m going to look like a cow at prom!” What silly words coming from the mouth of a size 6.

“It was the last dress that they had that was this design at the shop, Honey” responded a perplexed Janice.  Wasn’t Maggie supposed be captivated by the gown that had almost broke her bank?  She brushed aside her secret wounds over Maggie’s rejection of the dress, determined to find the real root of the problem.

“Maggie, you look beautiful in these rich colors.  I don’t understand why you always insist on black.”

“Black is chic, mom!  It makes me look thinner.”  She replied, an heir of artificiality in the tone of her voice.

“If you get any thinner, Dear, people are going to begin to mistake you for a rail.”

“Good!” with a huff.

Mrs. Hemingway sighed, holding the dress up to the neck of her reluctant daughter.

“It is so lovely, Maggie, it brings out your pretty blue eyes.”

Maggie rolled her “pretty blue eyes” and brushed her mother’s comments, and the dress, aside.

            Maggie’s mother forfeited her endeavor at striving to apply self-esteem with flattering remarks, realizing it’s about as useful as trying to apply true beauty with makeup.  Kissing her daughter’s dark brown fringe, she deserted Maggie for a time, leaving her to her sea of scarves, black dresses, and 4-inch heels, until Dad arrived.

            “Oh, great!” she thought to herself.  “Here comes the lecture:  Your mother paid a lot of money for that dress, blah, blah, blah…”

            “Maggie?” her father, George, inquired meekly, while knocking on her open door to alert her of his presence.

            “Yeah, Dad?” she replied, her tone now more tame and subdued.

            “Since this is your junior prom, and you don’t really have a date…I was thinking, maybe you and I can have our own ‘date’ up in the mountains tomorrow.”

            Maggie bit her lip, unsure of what everyone at school would say if she didn’t show up to prom.  “Who cares what they’ll say,” she thought to herself, “I don’t even really want to go to this thing anyway.”

            “Yeah, I think this prom stuff is really stressing me out.  I need a little peace and quiet.”

            “Great!  We’ll leave early in the morning. ” an elated Mr. Hemingway informed, clapping his hands together with a sigh of relief.

            “Oh! And Maggie?”

            “Yeah?”

            “Make sure you, ya’ know, clean your room.”

            “Okay, Dad.”

            Early the next morning, Maggie and Mr. Hemingway prepared for a day of mountain-climbing and buckled into the minivan, leaving Mrs. Hemingway behind to enjoy a well-deserved day of peace.  After 45 minutes of Maggie’s snoring, George was relieved to enthusiastically announce their arrival.  Jumping out of her wits as she awoke, Maggie bumped her head on the ceiling of the minivan.  Mr. Hemingway couldn’t help but burst out laughing as he exited the van.  Maggie gave him a sour look and stuck her tongue out at him, though she really couldn’t resist joining in the laughter.

            An hour after they had been on the hiking trail up the mountain, Mr. Hemingway halted Maggie who was mindlessly trudging forward, her mind somewhere else.

            “Come over here, Pumpkin,” he motioned with his hand to a field to their right.  Maggie sighed and followed him into the middle of the field.  He knelt in the middle of the field and motioned for her to do the same.  “What is he doing?” she thought, dumbfounded.  Eventually, she knelt next to him and he handed her a beautiful array of wildflowers.

“Maggie, do you realize how laborious a process it is to keep flowers?  They have to be properly watered and receive just the right amount of light.  Yet, the beauty they reveal in bloom is so magnificent to behold, that the gardener will endure all of the sweaty, hot afternoons just to admire them and to relish in the comfort that their beauty brings.”

            Maggie nodded absentmindedly, inhaling the fragrant scent of the wildflowers.  Her father smiled, gently touching her chin before traveling back over to the trail with Maggie not too far behind.  She carried the wildflowers with her, pondering over her father’s words with perplexity as they climbed the mountain, mostly in silence.  The early autumn breeze whispered secrets to them as they began to climb higher and higher, transcending above a few of the surrounding peaks.  “Do you see all that I see?” whispered she.  They carried on into the evening.

            Just as the sun began to set, their weary bodies tumbled to a precipice just outside of the forest on the top of the mountain.  Mr. Hemingway

reached the peak of the precipice first, taking a deep breath and exhaling as he awed at the magnificent scene before him.  The sun was set ablaze, a beautiful array of burning oranges, pinks, yellows, and blues all radiantly mingling together in the sunset behind green mountain peaks.  The wind rewarded his hard labor, gently blowing his face that was red with heat and exhaustion.  Maggie finally joined him, a shriveled up bunch of wildflowers in hand.  She leaned on a large boulder, breathing heavily as she looked out into the miraculous masterpiece before them.  Her hard gaze softened as she beheld one of the great pleasures of the universe.  A lark softly charmed them with his sweet, lovely song.  There was a mutual silence between father and daughter as they marveled at the view.

“Wow.” Maggie said between breaths.  She soaked in every aspect of the moment, burying this little treasure deep into her heart and promising herself that she would never forget it.

            “See all that, Mags?”

            “Yeah, Dad.”

            “After God created all of that, he created me…but you were His final crescendo, His crown jewel upon the face of the earth.”

            More silence passed between them as Maggie thought of what her dad had told her.

            “Are you saying…that I’m more beautiful…than all of that?” asked she, pointing to the scene with awe similar to that of a toddler pointing to a heaping pile of candy.

            “And these,” he said, gently taking the withered flowers from her hand.

            “Do you remember what I said to you before?”

            “About the flowers?”

            “Yes, about the flowers.”

            “Yes.”

            “You are the flower that Christ labored for during the unbearable days underneath the scorching sun.  He withstood the blistering heat to tenderly care for you, offer you life-giving waters that flow out of the Sacraments in the hope of seeing you blossom.  He longs for the day to see you in full bloom, completely restored in all of your splendor, grace, and beauty.”

            Maggie’s eyes were filled to the brim, her silky black hair cascading around her pretty, round face.  Her bitterness left her then, she exchanged it for hope as her father took her into his arms and they shared a warm embrace.

            “Oh, and Maggie?”

            “Yes, Dad?”

            “No more black dresses, my little Wild Flower.”

            She laughed through the silver drops spilling down from her eyes and onto her soft cheeks, emanating her recovered serenity with a smile before replying with an air of confidence:

“No more black dresses.”

All written material © Maria Rey de Souza as of 2011.