Dresses and People

“I don’t like that gown.” My mother sniffed and took a pinch of the dark green fabric between her nails before letting it fall back around my legs. She walked away and beckoned to her assistant. I didn’t know his name. It was pointless to learn anything about my mother’s PAs; she went through them fast.

I liked the gown fine. As much as I could like any long uncomfortable dress I was being forced to wear to a long uncomfortable event. “You picked it.” I pointed out as the PA scurried back in with the designer.

My mother’s eyes narrowed at me and I returned with a blank look. I’d grown up with her, though not in the traditional sense, and I was used to dealing with her. “I hadn’t expected you to be quite so bulky around the shoulders. And the color doesn’t suit you.” She told me.

“Then pick out another dress.”  I said simply even though I am not bulky around the shoulders and I didn’t care whether green suited me or not. It wasn’t about pleasing my mother; I’d given up on that before I’d reached adolescence. But reducing the time I spent around her would make us both happy.  Things between us were simple that way.

She nodded and her help immediately began dismantling the fabric off me.

****

I have two cousins. One, Sean, is my favorite person. His older brother, Hugh, and I don’t get along. He finds me stubborn and simple-minded and I think he is boring and false.  Hugh approached my position rapidly and I went over the probability of surviving an escape from a fourth story window.

I could have managed it if not for the dove grey gown and the heels my mother picked out. Appeasement has its downsides.

“Cousin.” He greeted me with a smooth smile. “That dress is lovely.”

“Cousin.” I said. “My mother picked it.”

“She has impeccable taste.” He replied unfazed by my blank look.

“Sure.” I didn’t want to be here arguing with him or anyone else. But this was The Winter party. The only reason Sean got out of it was that he’d broken his leg on our last trip in the Andes, displaying the exact reason people are not allowed on ski lifts intoxicated. My mother hadn’t wanted him hobbling around ruining the mood. It was unfortunate for a few reasons, one, he was not here to talk to, and second, the dour rigid mood was unruined.

Next to me his elder brother sighed. “Is this really such an ordeal? We are your family, we miss you.” He told me and took my arm. Before I said anything he started walking, it was either follow or trip over my too long hem. There was another option, but I would be forced to spend longer with my family if I broke Hugh’s offending appendage.

“I don’t like parties.” I sighed. He was drawing me closer to another group of men in suits. This would mean conversation.

“You don’t have to like parties, but you can like the people.” He didn’t look at me as he spoke so he missed how unconvincing he was being. “Really, have you tried talking to anyone?” He lowered his voice to a whisper as I was dragged into the circle of Hugh’s business associates.

It was then I resolved to follow Sean’s example and break something prior to next year’s event.

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