By Daniel C., Westfield, NJ
Author's note: This was actually an assignment from my English teacher which I was super ecstatic for. The... Show full author's note »
The LetterI watched myself in the mirror, inspecting every detail, identifying any flaws in my beauty and quickly adjusting it. The fear of something going wrong today, right now, was too great. I grabbed my bag, terrified that a slow mist would rise up from the ground and take it away when I wasn’t looking. Opening the latch, I saw the envelope, once again in my hands; the sharp edges now dull because of my fascination, and the crisp, sealed close now flimsily sticking to the base in a desperate attempt to hold on. Holding it in my hands, it felt, was the safest place for the document. Like so many times before, I unclothed the piece of fine printed paper and scanned it with my eyes.
“You, Ms. Bridget Dubois, are formally presented as a member of The College of Technology in New York, New York,” the words stated in a black font that seemed to weight the paper down. I didn’t need to read it, I knew every inch of that paper, because minute by minute I studied its authenticity, fighting my urge to yell to the world, to scream my victory roar, my eagerness to just take off and run to the next train leaving Lafayette. My dreams were being touched by the hand I never knew could be mine. I thought a sort of deity, much larger than I, hell even Louisiana, was the only one that could come in proximity with my dream. I could DO my dream; I was the best one in Mr. James’s mechanics class. I was smarter than anyone of those pot smoking, mollycoddled idiots in that class, yet they were better than me, because they had something between their legs that I didn't. I will forever be second in that aspect, always the rib of Adam. Mr. James was the only one who gave me a chance with my talent. And I took every chance I could to repay him for putting me in that class. It paid off, New York was asking, and James was answering, with a resume with MY name on it! Can you believe that! If I, little sunshine girl, triple pageant winning, daughter of two French aristocrats in crappy, high end Lafayette, could one day be a mechanic, than who else knows what could happen! And guess what, after praying every day to Jesus, I knew someone heard me, because that resume, like Mr. James told me, was a diamond in the rough for them. They sent a letter back to me so fast I thought I threw my 6 year old cousin’s Australian toy.
But something was stuck like a dead animal on the tracks to New York…that something was Mother. She loved me and looked out for me as every Christian Louisiana mother does; the situation is just that, she thinks I'm stupid, and all beauty. She thinks women in general are the offspring of man. She'll never see through the sexist screen that is the Louisiana air, and give me her blessing to go. But this guilt outweighs any pain I might receive from her, the guilt of celebration, of accomplishment, of leaving a mother without her goodbyes like I planned. I thought once I was done with this party, the train at 10:00 to Charleston followed by the one at 6:00 the following day to New York with a wad of money I knew those heavy pocketed aristocrats would give would do, but I now see she must know, no matter what I do, I cannot live with the guilt. To know that after Father died, God bless his soul, she would be missing another of her own. I just couldn’t.
I finally stood on my heels, already feeling the pain travel up my ankle. Once more I looked at the mirror, inspecting myself, the gems on my clothes made the dress sparkle like a flamboyant rooster pecking a diamonds in the earth. Make-up, so heavily applied to face, it looked like it only consisted of a nose, eyes, and a bright red mouth. My hair was enslaved by the many applicants and bobby pins that tormented it to an unnatural shape, with bright blonde streaks running through it like skid marks. Expensive and superficial cold stones pressed my skin, unfamiliar to the touch, everything but the emerald ring my father gave to me. A green that seemed to permeate the pounds and pounds of priceless tradition tied around my body, inscribed with French dialect even the oldest Cajun woman in rural Louisiana couldn’t understand. With one last glance and kiss on the jewel, I left the room. My debutante was the last interaction I would have in familiar ground.