The Dress

December 8, 2010
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Margaret Anne woke up and it was still dark outside. She had to be at the hospital early- by 7:30 a.m. This was because another nurse who normally worked then had called last night.

"I just haven't been feeling well the past few days. I would hate to give something to a patient, so would you mind filling in for me at 7:30?" she had said in a nasal voice that obviously told Margaret she was really sick. But the young nurse did not mind, she needed all of the extra money she could earn. Ever since the Great Depression had begun, overtime was a blessing rather than a curse. She read the recent engagements section of the newspaper to make sure hers was there- and it was. The title read "Luke Jones & Margaret Anne Wilson, engaged May 27, 1929, to be married March 7, 1930”. It was now January, only two short months away from the wedding. He was a soldier that she had nursed during World War I when she was only fifteen.

"How about when I get better, I take you dancing to thank you for all of your help?" he had asked her. She had blushed, and replied, "We'll see." In August of that year, they had gone dancing. After the third time, he took her to dinner every week and they became inseparable. But then he was asked to live aboard a US ship for the navy. Margaret was not worried about his safety because there was currently no war, and he was given food and clothing for free when times were very hard. She did miss him often, but he would be home for good in only two weeks.

The telephone rang. Margaret Anne answered, and it was her sister, Elizabeth. "How are you? Are you nervous about the wedding?" she asked. She was younger than Margaret and was nowhere near ready to get married, however she was fascinated by the idea of a wedding and could not wait to help with the details.

"I'm not nervous, just anxious for Luke to come home. He's been gone for four months now, you know. Do you still want to help me shop for a dress this afternoon?"

Elizabeth answered, "But I thought we were going this morning. Do you have to work?"

"Yes, another nurse called in sick and I am going to take her spot. I'll only need to be there until 11:00, though. After that, let's go to lunch together and then look for a dress. I have to get one this week to have time for it to be tailored."

"It’s not like you to put something that important off to the last minute. You are still in love with the first dress you tried on, almost seven months ago, aren't you?" Elizabeth asked, sure of the answer already.

"Yes, it was so beautiful that none of the others are measuring up. But it was too expensive- I'm already working overtime almost every week and I can't afford it right now. Luke offered to help buy it, but I feel like we will need that money later. It's a shame …” Margaret sighed. The dress had haunted her since the second she saw it in the mirror. It was a soft white with a fitted waist and had a full, but not giant skirt. The cut of the top had framed her shoulders perfectly, and the back had intricate twists in the fabric that were interesting, but not distracting from her herself. There was no noise on the other end of the phone line.

"…what if I offered to help you buy it? Would you accept that as your gift from me?" Elizabeth waited patiently for her answer.

"I appreciate that so much- I will think about it at work, but I don't want to give you an answer yet. I would feel awful taking something that you might want later away from you." But secretly, Margaret knew that she would take her sister's offer and repay her in some way later- perhaps buy her dress for her on her wedding day, later, when the depression passed.

"Okay, just know that I would be more than willing to buy it for you. I want to be a part of your wedding in every way possible. You had better get to work, and I will meet you at noon downtown for lunch." Elizabeth said goodbye and the receiver clicked. Margaret knew that she had hung up so fast so that she would not hear her giggling at the offer being considered on the other end. She was so thankful to have a sister so willing to help and so loving. But she was right; it was time to get ready for work.

Margaret Anne changed, found her bag, and grabbed some fruit when she went downstairs. She could feel a smile creeping onto her face. Luke would be so surprised when she wore the gorgeous dress on the wedding day. Her front door closed and clicked as she locked it, and she was off to work for the morning.





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