Friday, May 1, 2009
The Yellow Dress
Welcome to Patty Wysong's Friday Fiction! This week it is being hosted by Sharlyn, so be sure to visit her at Dancing on Rainbows for more great fiction.
Marianne stared at her long-legged reflection in the full-length mirror. The hem was perfect; she had measured and sewed straight enough. She glanced at the six inches of bright yellow linen lying on the floor, the six inches which had made the dress seem more suited to her mother than herself. “I love this dress,” she said quietly as she caressed the round neckline and sleeveless edges of the straight sheath. “It was just so unstylish and long, so – matronly! I am not my mother!”
“Marianne,” a voice called from downstairs, “Hurry or you’ll miss the bus, and I don’t have time to drive you to school today!”
“Okay, Mom!” Marianne glanced nervously again at the hemline and tugged on the skirt as though to make it long again. Her mother wouldn’t approve, but she doubted that she would go so far as to stop her from going to school in it.
As she expected, her mother noted the new skirt length with a frown. “Oh honey, what have you done to your beautiful new dress?”
“Oh, Mom, don’t be so old fashioned! All the girls are wearing mini-skirts these days!” Her words boasted far more confidence that she actually felt, but she buried her sense of rising regret under an air of determined resolve. “Bye, Mom!” She grabbed her purse and books and bounced out the door.
Connie was conceited and gregarious, and had never had anything kind to say to Marianne. The spiteful remarks she often made usually targeted her clothes, hair and makeup. The other girls would laugh and agree, feeding Connie’s obvious need for eminence and popularity.
The new yellow dress had caused just one such outburst the first day Marianne had worn it. “That dress would look great on your mother. Don’t you think it’s just a little long for you?” Connie had smiled smugly and turned away to the approving giggles of her girl fans.
Marianne sat now at her desk in Social Studies, uncomfortably shifting to one side and then the other as she willed her legs to stay locked together. “I hate short skirts,” she thought woefully. She could almost sense the Lord agreeing with her, but actively tried not to think about everything that just might be on His mind today. She tried to focus instead on the teacher’s lecture. His voice droned on about food and water supplies in a dry climate, and Marianne’s thoughts wandered again, this time to the inevitable encounter at the lockers that would follow class.
As she expected, Connie looked her up and down for a long moment while they exchanged books from their lockers. Then, however, Marianne was caught a bit off-guard as she made some uncharacteristic comments. “Well, your mother will never wear that dress now! It looks nice, I like it.”
They stared at each other for a moment before turning to go to their next class. “Thanks,” Marianne said, trying to sound casually indifferent as she walked away.
That evening after helping her mother with the dishes, Marianne sat in her room at her desk, trying to study for a test in history. Her thoughts kept turning to the yellow dress, which now hung in her closet, as though waiting until she worked up the courage to wear it again.
“Oh, Lord, I’m so sorry!” Tears began to form, blurring the words on the history book page.
“Does Connie love you?”
“No, Connie loves herself.” Marianne grabbed a tissue from the box on her desk and blew her nose.
“Do I love you?”
“Yes, Lord, You love me.”
“Did you feel good wearing that dress today?”
“No, I felt awful all day!” Marianne sighed despondently. “But Lord, You just don’t know what it’s like to have to be so different from everybody else.”
“Nobody likes to be different. But you are wrong, child, I do understand. Take a break from the history book.”
Marianne pushed the history book aside, and after a moment picked up her Bible instead. As she read, tears again filled her eyes. “Lord, You do understand! You were despised and rejected, and scorned, and mocked, and if all that weren’t bad enough, you were beaten and then crucified. Will you please forgive me once again, not only for the dress, but for pouting and whining, and most of all for preferring what the other girls think of me to what you think?”
“Of course I forgive you, child! Are you going to wear that dress again?”
“No, and I’ve ruined it so no one can ever wear it!”
“What about Jenny?”
“Lord, You are so smart! Jenny’s shorter than I am, but she wears the same dress size. On her it will be long again!” Marianne’s brooding gave way to elation. She wouldn’t ever have to wear the dress again, but it wouldn’t have to be tossed out. Jenny’s family didn’t have a lot of money, and Marianne was pleased to have a way to help. Best of all, Marianne would go to school in the morning with a clear and peaceful conscience, dressed in that old green corduroy jumper and a white blouse, an outfit that even her mother could wear!