“Gina and Grace agreed to perform before you. I already asked them and they are ok with it.” Gregg implied by passing through the doorway, waking me up from my melancholic slumber. I assented with my head. I grabbed the red dress my mom had inherited to me. “Are you ok, hon?” attentively supplied. I looked toward him and explained to him my need to remain alone for getting ready.
A silk, siren-shaped red gown. Beautiful dress! My mom looked like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn. She was radiant, full of beauty and glamour as any movie star whenever she wore the gown. It was the one evening gown she owned. But, I could tell she didn’t need another. The radiance that shined from her face when she put it on was enough to realize how satisfied and how attached she was with it. Though she was not planning to go out anywhere, she tried it on. “It still fits.” She would supply while admiring her silhouette on the two-foot tall Victorian-framed mirror. She bought it in a flea market. It didn’t cost much, but it was enough to upset dad. She played in front of the mirror by swaying around the bedroom, staring at her image on the mirror. She would usually begin by combing her hair according to the hairdo fads. Her hairdos never resembled those she had the desire to copy. However, when she did her makeup, put the white long gloves and the dress on; she wasn’t a housewife anymore.
She always played a Tony Bennett’s, her favorite, or Cole Potter’s records. She danced around, holding her imaginative companion in the emptiness between her arms. She addressed him with different names: Carl, David, Tom, even Mr. Bennett. She jiggled as if she was having real one-on-one conversation.
Sometimes, I managed to get in her room, when she was finally resting exhausted for much swaying and spinning, wearing her dress. Once I entered and she was immersed in a profound slumber. I watched her as I walked around the bed, staring at her solemn figures resting with her hair shed all over the pillow. I admired her silently at the end of the bed. I saw, on her night table, an orange pilled container. Valium was inscribed on the label. Years later, I realized what those pills were for since I was also prescribed to ingest them.
Dad never took her out. She always kept suggesting him new places that have been recently opened or any special event, as charity balls, which they have been luckily invited to. However, he declined to one of every proposal she might have mentioned to him. There might have been thousands of different events she had tried to pull out dad from the armchair he was stuck in. Mom always knew the answer, “There’s no money,” “I’m tired. I work my ass off all day,” “They don’t help us, why should we help them?” There were many more complains; even later there were attempts for strong arguments; they supposed my brother and I were asleep when they began arguing in a harsh whisper. Though, mom kept on dressing up in her room.
I was nine when I started spying my mom playing. I loved it. She didn’t know I was watching her, though I thought so. She and I had a secret of our own. We shared it in solitude and amused our imaginative companion’s secrecy. We didn’t enjoy a strong communicative bond. During my high school years, the gap among us grew stronger. I blamed on her nothing. I knew the way we were was how it was supposed to be. She was trapped in an unfulfilling marriage, wishing for nothing more than a window or door slightly left open to flee. Though, she never left, she felt compelled to continue since time was not in her favor, and her mistakes needed to be paid. She prepared herself to bear the cross she had craved.
She didn’t tell, however, I knew it. Moms know when kids do wrong; likewise children do so when moms don’t do well. As if one were the fortune teller and another the craft apprentice. I just knew how she was doing. I thought I had an accurate notion of my mom’s state.
Words among us were fully inspired by the need either to ask clarification of any neighbor’s inquisitive attempts to cognize about other people’s lives or to keep informed about news from school or any other personal affair. This attempt for building a bridgebecame weakened by the lack of friendly knowledge about people from my neighborhood, because of my ignorance of neighbor’s name and faces.
By the time I was fifteen, almost turning sixteen, I still flicked through open doors or outside windows up in trees at her wearing the dress. She danced and danced. I was in love as she was for the red dress. When she danced, how it moved through the room in her slightly tall slim body. I died for wearing it. I know she would allow it. It was her joy and pride, her remainder of beauty, I thought.
A week before prom night, I managed to save a considerable amount of money. I spend it all in a tailored dress, one similar to mom, of course. It wasn’t silk as hers. A blue satin siren-silhouette bare-shoulders-and-back gown was tailored for me. It was beautiful and I felt beautiful. I started to sense by myself the joy it might have brought to mom wearing a dress like it. I chose the color different to mom’s, since a total reproduction of it would be disrespectful to her and the dress itself.
I spent hours trapped in my bedroom getting ready. Thanks to my slender slim figure, the dress made me resemble a young Audrey. I even combed my hair using the style she bore on “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I didn’t place so much makeup, though I did wear some false eyelashes and eye-powder. I would have liked to dress up in another place, but since my “personality” was not in the taste of school fellows, whether they were female or male. I didn’t have that many friends for that matter of fact. My boyfriend, Gregg, supported me. Yet, his parents were too conservative and he didn’t want to draw any attention that could have set us apart.
A limousine parked in front of the house. It was Gregg. He wore a black tuxedo. My parents were at the door staring at the limousine through side window. Nobody came out for a while. Minutes later, they managed to see that someone had stepped out of the limo and acknowledged who he was. My parents looked at him in awe. Their expectations were squarely puzzling of whom Gregg was supposed to pick up.
My parents were at the end of the hall down the stairs. They had the door close and stood aside it, snooping through the windows. Then, they turned around and gazed at me with their eyes frowning amazement. They only stared closely, perhaps scared. I could notice what they were projecting toward me. They remained mute while I was climbing down the stairs.
I positively admired in their stare that I chose the worst way to come out. They remained speechless while I lingered on the last stairstep. I was expecting for any comment or reaction, but nothing came upon me.
“Dad! Mom! I’m going to the prom. Don’t stay up late for me!”
“Hey, hey! Come again!” said dad, bearing a grimace of discontent and approaching closer.
“I’m going to the school’s prom dance,” I stammered while he was still approaching.
“So, what are you thinking?” cried out a strident yield at me, with his reddened eyes full of anger. “What the hell are you thinking? I said” he demanded, striking a firmly heavy punch twice on my face.
“What are you, Dave? Some kind of joke. It’s not Halloween as far as I recall.” He cried staring at me while I was crawling to the stairs, sobbing my jaw and trying not to stain my dress with the blood flowing out from my nose and scattered on the floor.
“No, it is my prom night.” I replied. He kicked on my belly with his cowboy boots.
“You’re a boy; you are not supposed to wear a dress!” he kept moving awkwardly all over the hall. “This is all you fault!” he pointed to my mom and hit her. I reached the banister, “Leave her alone. It’s nobody’s fault. This is my decision,” shouted while pushing to stand up. He came back to me and knocked my head against the wall.
“Yes, it’s her fault. She should’ve seen it coming.”
“You should’ve seen it, too!” my mom sobbed.
“And you! Go and change. You’re not going anywhere.”
“I will. Gregg is waiting outside for me, and I spent months preparing for this.”
“You won’t leave this house…What you mean months?”
We continued arguing for more than twenty minutes. There were screams and sounds of bumps. Gregg tried to get in, but I commanded him to stay out. I managed to leave the house. I ran to Gregg. My dad kept screaming at me from the door. I just heard some of the phrases he was crying. One of them was that I wasn’t his son anymore. I guess I never was anyway. I left home carrying only what I was wearing, a blood-stained tailored evening gown.
Despite of the bruises and blisters with blood coming down my lips, nose and eyebrows, I felt free at last; yet felt a great sorrow for my mother.
“Two minutes, sweetheart!” Gregg said from outside the dressing room. He came closer toward me. I hugged him tight and kissed him. A thank-you followed. I implied later that I just needed some things to do before going out. He was fine with it, and he left the room glowing.
A final stare at the mirror, before going to the stage, a deep breath and a little clearance of my voice. The red gown covered my body superbly. I believe I resembled the goddesses of old Hollywood and my mother. I thought of her while I was witnessing my image on the mirror. My heart pumped faster at first. I realized that I was going to be by myself on that stage.
I stepped on the stage. The curtain hadn’t been pulled up yet. I remained in the darkness of the stage behind the curtain. My pumping heart was settling down. The drums of my heart had found the peaceful gong as my mother had. I twisted my lips slightly portraying a soft smile. I kept a picture of my mother dancing in her room. Now I was in her shoes and in her dress. I was giving the dress its last dance.
Memories came running through my mind, times when I was left alone as a young boy, I ran to the master bedroom and took the dress and wore it on. Every time came to me and when I wore mine to the prom, swaying around my room, waiting for my boy to pick me up.
The curtain was lifted. I stood there without a big hairdo, excessive make-up, drag queen attitude; just a woman playing the ultimate inspiration and representation of what all women are. Neither Madonna nor Cher would’ve fit in my dress, just the magic of an averagely woman and the love of her fabulous daughter.
I hope you liked this short story. I wrote six years ago. If there’s any feedback, please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading