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 PartyWalking into the hall, I found the food being set for the guests onto silver platters polished finely. The music furnished the room and every step brought me closer to the source, with very traditional Cajun drumming and fiddling vibrating through my bones and exiting through my fingers and toes. French language my mother failed to teach me rhythmically saturated the music. Finally at the climax of the noise I opened the doors only to be comforted by the beauty aristocratic society could bring. Bright lights permeated my eyes, flooding the dark hallway with light. A crystal chandelier rained over us, temporarily distracting me from the faces that now looked behind their seats to see the prized guest. Tall walls enclosed the space, lined with gold paint and yellow leaf wallpaper. Tables surrounded a stage that held many presents evenly and carefully assembled, mix-matching patterns, one larger than the next in a never winning competition of size. I examined the center-piece of a large Queen Anne Lace, surrounded by acacia’s praying to the large flower, dotted by small white lilies was stationed at each table, with a silk table clothe under the flowers so soft and smooth to the touch that felt it like a sheep’s underbelly.
To my right stood a podium now pointed out to me by nodding heads, unwilling to break the tradition. I quickly remembered the steps of the part I needed to play and climbed slowly up to the top the structure. The patient yet excited guests lined up as they had done so many other times to greet me as a new woman introduced to them by my Mother, a tradition that has never been overcome and never will be in indestructible Southern culture.
Like an unwanted day coming unexpectedly and surprisingly, my Mother stepped behind the podium and confronted her nervous daughter of things she couldn’t yet guess. Her dress, less dazzling but still as obnoxious caught my eye; not until I could define the wrinkles in her face did I look up. We, daughter and mother, would now interact.
“Bridget,” she began calmly at first, “You are beautiful; the picture of perfection none of us could ever dream of,” she stated in a weak, struggling voice, trying desperately to hold on to her calm. “Now, let’s begin.”
Slowly, each person was introduced to the new Bridget, the better, more mature Bridget.
“Welcome, Miss. Dubois,” said my mother with a thick French accent.
“Pleased to meet you Miss. Dubois,” said a guest, or “Nice to make your acquaintance Miss. Dubois,” or even, “Welcome to Lafayette Miss. Dubois.” All showing acceptance in their eyes, a new found respect even I, a rebellious woman, still wished as a little girl I would receive. Their greetings soon became less of a celebration and more of a chore as more and more of my mother’s friends kissed my hand, which I desperately needed to sanitize. After the long greetings, a formal presentation was in order, with me still looking to the ground, working up the courage even to look into my mother’s brown eyes. Walking to the stage, everyone settled to their seats, awaiting my word to continue the celebration. After a few words of untruthful smiles and giggles of gratitude, the guest continued their socializing.
I felt the need to speak to her. “Mother,” I said slowly,” I have absolutely wonderful news to share with-” I was cut off by a mother’s love and appreciation for a daughter’s right of passage.
Touching my hair she stated with tear-filled eyes, “I’ve never felt so proud of you, you’re becoming the woman I always knew you would become,”
“Thank you mother,” I said, disregarding everything I planned for the day in that sentence. Only after sitting in a chair, watching the celebration go by did I realize the importance of my future decisions. Yet the quote hammered in my head, my mind drift to a less eventful time, I saw myself as a child. My short brown hair wasn’t tampered with as mine was currently. As I played with the dollhouse, I pictured the ceremony. Dazzling colors, a huge, towering cake, my friends, and my favorite; the elegant ball gown, all cluttered my mind. I drew for days the gown I would wear; a poufy, princess like gargantuan that seemed a little overdramatic as I see it now. I was enclosed in my room, praying for a magnificent debutante, like the girls before me. Only a large sigh from my mother besides me as she signaled me to stop day dreaming made me realize reality. I was entirely present in my words this attempt.
I stood up, “Mother, I want to tell you something I couldn’t keep away, it’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful news,”
“Well, don’t leave me in tension dear,”
“I applied to a school and I was accepted! Oh Momma they’re gonna ship me to New York. They want me that bad!” the words left my mouth, and I felt my tongue trying to grab the sinful phrase as it left.
Mother didn’t yell. She didn’t smile either. She didn’t throw something in anger, or dance in pleasure. She stayed there and…stared. I looked at her with an ever-present grin; my mind reeled of her reaction. I didn’t care, I wanted her to REACT.
“Bridget dear,” she said leaving her trance, “If we’re having problems at home let’s talk at home,” without moving her paralyzed smile. She began to walk away, unaffected by the situation. After processing her lack of an answer, I quickly chased her direction.
“Listen to me,” I said, unable to keep my voice down. “I’ve been accepted! I’m going to New York.” I stared at her now, waiting for the response. What felt like hours now were interrupted by me, surprisingly enough. “Can you please say something, this is a joyous occasion, you should be proud.”
Finally opening her mouth, her wrinkles moved slowly and gently with every word she said. “I don’t know what you want me to say, this is so unexpected, so…so not what I planned for you. We talked about this, you love modeling, you want a family, and you’re just going through a rebellious stage. Listen to me, I know you more than anyone, I’m your mother for God’s sake. Listen to me,” She reached out her hand, as I fought the urge to be comforted and kept in my mother’s arms, I recoiled. This was unexpected for her. Her face had changed, her wrinkles were still and tamed. The mood changed. “Listen to me,” she said, in a more assertive tone. “Think for a second, you are walking away from everything you ever wanted, you are pecking at the hand that feeds you. This decision is a mistake that will separate you from your future. “You will regret it, now be a good girl and follow orders,” once again raising her hand. I recoiled a second time, pushing the crown like Caesar did. The temptation needed to be conquered.
“This isn’t a phase Mother, I was meant for greater things-“
“Pride is a sin my dear,”
“This isn’t, I’m going to New York and I’m going to get a proper education,” I barked. I felt my face to make sure I was saying this, not someone behind me.
“You’ve always been disobedient, and look at what it’s got you so far, 18 and still never a steady relationship with a gentleman. I’m seeing you in a whole other light,” Truly hurt, I attacked twice as painful.
“I am willing to learn so I must be taken from this place. Lafayette isn’t the home for anyone willing to be true to themselves, only New York will ever untie the knot this community has put on all our tongues,” People began turning around, intrigued by the lady’s statement. It offended some, pleased others.
“Who’s got all this engineering crap in your head Bridget, is it that teacher. He only likes the way you look, he wants to get your pants off, this college stuff is just a cover-up to get you in bed,” her wrinkles echoed. An unsettling murmur ran around the thick crowd now huddled besides us both.
“He’s given me a chance, a chance to be truly smart, I am smart Mother,”
“Please, you’re just another Louisiana candy to his eye, another woman who’d clumsily fall into a trap of self-indulgence,”
“I’m a new chapter Mom; I’m not your past.” The crowd stopped dead in their tracks. Mother looked at me dead on.
“You are nothing without me, how dare you offend the one who kept you alive and well for 18 whole-“
“And now I ask nothing from you. I’m going to New York today, I’m leaving you.” I stated calmly. I left the room, grabbing the money on the table that the guests provided unknowing of its true purpose. I ran through late Lafayette, the cold biting into my skin, penetrating my now useless dress.