I was sooooo pleased with my mark - it'll make a difference to my overall marks, hopefully making up for my first TMA, so I should get a fairly decent pass mark overall, with any luck. :)
With TMA 04, we had to write a section of autobiographical narrative (1,500 words) or two autobiographical poems (40 lines in total).
I chose the narrative and, on doing so, saw that I had a further choice, where I could choose my own subject, or choose a subject from a list. The first item on the list, was 'an item of clothing', and this appealed straight away, as I had decided already that I was going to write about the hours I had spent preparing myself on my wedding day. So the item of clothing had to be my wedding dress.
Anyway, here's the story I wrote:
As I woke up, I became aware of a strangeness around me, and it took me a few seconds to realise that I was in the wrong bed. I lay there, aware that the room smelled different to mine, and that I was also in a single bed, something I hadn’t slept in since leaving home. Then I realised, I was home – and that today, the 8th October, 1983, was my wedding day.
I opened my eyes to a room lit only by the weak sunlight of a clear late-autumn morning, filtering through the thin curtains across the window, and I peered through the dimness at the alarm clock placed besides the bed – 7.45 a.m. – plenty of time before I needed to get ready.
I lay back down, and glanced casually around the room that had once been mine, once chock-full of precariously stacked books and folders. But it wasn’t my room anymore, and it had that empty, transient feeling of all spare rooms, where guests were tolerated for a while and, once gone, it would settle back in waiting mode for the next person. I looked down to the foot of the bed, and saw my wedding dress, shrouded in it’s protective coverings, hanging from the front of the wardrobe, and a deep stirring of warmth came to my stomach. I was getting married to my Bob at last.
Today, it would be three months to the day since we met. ‘Not much time,’ people kept telling us, but from the moment our eyes met, we had both known, with a deep-down certainty, that we were meant to be together, and nothing that had happened in the last fourteen weeks had changed our minds. So I lay there in my childhood bed, and waited patiently until it was time for me to get up; to get on with the rest of my life.
For the next hour or so, the household awoke around me, stirring to life with that urgent buzzing that sounds like a hive that has been disturbed. I managed some breakfast before anyone came downstairs, then had a bath and went back to my room. With a feeling of great calm I began to prepare myself, drying and powdering, unwrapping and putting on the new undies bought especially for the occasion, then the long petticoat that went under my dress. I carefully lifted my dress down from the outside of the wardrobe, and began to remove the coverings around it.
Just as I started, there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” I called. The door opened, and my mother walked in.
“You okay, love?”, she asked me. “Do you need any help with anything?”
I smiled at her, then went over and kissed her on the cheek. “I’d love some help with my hair once I’ve finished dressing, if you don’t mind, mum?”
“Of course, love. I’ll bring in the hairdryer, and tongs and stuff, in, what? Twenty minutes do you?” she smiled, then turned and went quietly back out of the room.
I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t upset her by not needing her in the processes of dressing, something I had always been so private about, but I realised that mum probably knew me better than I knew myself, and the offer had just been a way for her to acknowledge my changing status from daughter to wife.
I went to open the coverings once again, but there was another quick knock at the door, which opened immediately, to reveal one of my older sisters, Lynnette.
“Katy, I just got here. Do you want some help with dressing or anything?”, she asked, then bustled into the room and closed the door. “Ooh, let’s see your dress! You never did let any of us see it, you monkey!”
With that, she went to take the dress from my hands. With a smile, I deftly moved it from her grasp, then placed it on the bed. I reached over, and slowly undid the zip that held the cover in place, then gently folded it back to reveal all.
It was cream in colour. That clotted cream that went so well on warm scones. It had a sweetheart neckline, and a little mandarin collar that stood up proudly to guard my neck. The sleeves were almost medieval in their width, with a series of pleats that gave a pleasing drape, and which matched the full skirt that led off in an empire-line from the bust, which was covered in intricate cream-on-cream embroidery. I was immensely happy with that dress, and was delighted when I’d seen it, tucked away, almost abandoned, at the back of the wedding shop a month previously.
“Oh, Katy, it’s lovely,” Lynn cried, “but why didn’t you get it in white?”
She went to grab the dress for a closer look, but I quickly pulled the cover back across it, then gently steered her to sit at the dressing table, where a padded stool waited.
“For a start, with my colouring, I look dead in anything white and, secondly, I didn’t want to be hypocritical about this. White dresses became the fashion to represent purity in a bride and, as Bob and I have been living together for the last two months, I couldn’t exactly pretend, could I?” I smiled at her, and she grinned back.
“I know,” she said, “but there’s something about a bride wearing white . . .”, she trailed off, and I knew she was thinking back to her own wedding day.
I knew this would turn into a long session of, ‘do you remembers,’ if I wasn’t careful, so I decided to head her off before it did.
“Lynn, now you’re here, could you do me a huge favour?”
Lynnette came out of her remembrances with a start. “Of course I can – do you want some help with your hair or make-up?”, she asked, eagerly.
“Actually, that’s all under control. Mum’s coming to help me in about fifteen minutes. What I’d like for you to do, if you don’t mind, is phone Janice’s house, to check that Bob’s up and about. With everyone rushing back and forth, he’s probably feeling a little bit abandoned at the moment, and I want him to know I’m thinking of him.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet,” Lynn exclaimed, her eyes filling with tears. She was such a romantic soul, was my sister, and it took very little to set her off. Without a word of farewell, she almost flew from the room, banging the door shut behind her.
With a sigh of relief, I sat on the corner of the bed, and listened to the silence enfolding me once again. I knew that, outside this door, mayhem was starting to happen but, for a few minutes more, I could enjoy this privacy. I stood up after a moment, and went back to my dress. I slowly lifted it from the cover, and felt the weight of it in my arms. Not for me, something flimsy. I had wanted something that would stand up to the rough and tumble of a family occasion. I also wanted something to represent the strength of my love for Bob, and his for me, and the quality of the material, the neatness of the stitching, and the painstaking designs sewn into it represented that for me, and had the minute I had seen it.
With a smile on my face, I stood in front of the dresser mirror, and started to put it on, calmly stepping into the wide, pleated skirt, then gently pulling it up until I could put my arms through the matching sleeves. Once I had it settled, I reached back, and pulled the zipper up as far as I could, then reached over my shoulder to pull it up the rest of the way. With a tug here, and a tweak there, I settled it into place on my body, feeling armoured for anything, then I pulled off the towel I’d wrapped around my head, roughly combing my hair into place with my fingers, and stared at my reflection in the mirror.
As I did, there was a knock at the door, and mum walked back into the room, weighed down with a plethora of tools designed to aid a girl in getting beautiful. She let them drop onto the bed, then stood behind me, hands lightly on my shoulders, and stared into my eyes in the mirror, and she smiled at me, that special smile only a mother can give to her daughter at a time like this. “Are you sure this is what you want, love? You know it’s never too late to change your mind?”
I put a hand over hers as it rested on my shoulder. “Mum, it’s about the one thing in my life, apart from you and dad loving me, that I am sure of,” I said. “Bob and I are meant to be, and I’ve got no hesitations, or worries, about it. Thank you for caring, though, mum.”
She smiled into my eyes, and gently kissed my head. “Well, we do care. That’s why your dad and I thought I should ask anyway.” She stepped back. “I guess if you want to be ready anytime soon, we’d better get on.”
With that, she gestured for me to sit on the stool, and started arranging my hair.