Through All the Dust
Chapter Eighteen: I've Come So Far to Meet You Here
“You’re joking, right?” I asked flatly, shaking my head at the cupcake of a dress that Marge was holding excitedly.
She was grinning from ear to ear, “Not at all!”
“Marge,” I groaned, “I would literally disappear under all the tulle.”
“But it’s beautiful,” she insisted.
Caroline nodded, “It is stunning. The beadwork is exquisite.”
I looked back and forth between the two of them, “Don’t you two join forces.”
Marge grunted at me, “Can you just try the darn thing on? For me?”
“Fine,” I huffed unhappily. “But I’m not carrying it around. That’s where I draw the line.”
“I will happily carry it for you,” Marge snubbed, scrunching her face a little before disappearing to continue searching through rows and rows of dresses.
Caroline pulled a couple out to examine but turned her nose up at them. It was entertaining to watch and gave me an excuse to not search for a dress myself. The outlandishly extroverted sales associate had offered to pull dresses on my behalf but I’d declined immediately.
Lauren came bouncing over with a long, tulle-less dress, smiling like an idiot.
“Hmmm?” she hummed, shaking the fabric at me.
I made a face.
“Okay,” she giggled, “moving passed the whole I hate dresses thing, what do you think?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “It’s fine, I guess.”
“For heaven’s sake, Blair,” she laughed impatiently. “You’re impossible.”
“How about this one?” Mona called over her shoulder, holding out a dress that looked like it was straight out of a Disney movie.
As everyone started pulling dress after dress after dress…I was getting really confused. Nothing was what I wanted. Nothing was even remotely appealing to my senses. But they were all so insistent that I happily pick a few out.
So, obviously, I cried.
“Oh, Blair,” Lauren frowned, pulling her hand over her mouth a little. “What’s wrong?”
“This,” I whimpered, “is really overwhelming.”
She pouted, “It’s supposed to be fun.”
“This is not fun,” I told her seriously. “I need a minute.”
I pushed passed my lovely maid of honor and dashed out the door. Once I was safely on the sidewalk, I lit a cigarette and dialed the number of the only person I knew to call.
“Hey, babe,” Brian greeted me.
It sent relief trickling through my spine.
“I’m getting worked up,” I said, cutting straight to the chase. “How important is it that I wear a wedding dress?”
He laughed lightly, “I’m going to say it’s pretty important. You could show up naked…I wouldn’t object.”
“I hate all of them, Bri,” I sighed. “Every dress is floofy and fluffy and ugly and I just want to crawl into a hole.”
“You can’t live in a hole,” he snickered.
“I didn’t say live,” I smiled finally. “I said crawl into.”
“Oh sorry,” he teased. “I can see how there’s a big difference between them.”
I let a silence fall between us for a second, flicking my cigarette psychotically often.
“I can’t help but wonder if it would be different…” I stopped myself. “Never mind.”
“Different if what?” he encouraged curiously.
I looked around suspiciously, a little embarrassed by my own feelings, “If my mom was here…”
Brian sighed into my ear, “I don’t know, pretty girl.”
Another silence fell between us as I blinked back tears and suffocated my longing. There was nothing to get worked up about; it wouldn’t change anything. She wasn’t there and I was just going to have to live with it.
“What do I do, Bri?” I finally groaned.
He hesitated, “If you don’t want to try on dresses today, don’t. I don’t want you working yourself into a frenzy over something as trivial as a dress.”
I nodded like he could see.
“But just know that you’re beautiful,” he added sweetly. “And you’ll be stunning in whatever you choose to wear…Though I’m still a big supporter of the naked idea.”
Mona appeared in the door, looking at me sympathetically.
“I have to go,” I whined. “Thanks for talking me down.”
“Did I?” he laughed. “Try and cheer up, crazy lady. You’re only doing this once; better make the most of it.”
“Aren’t we presumptuous,” I teased. “Bye, Bri.”
I flipped my phone shut and took one last, much needed pull of my cigarette before crushing it under my foot. To my surprise, as I was about to head in, Mona was shoved aside and my aunt came barreling out the door toward me.
“Sorry,” I started lamely. “I know I shouldn’t—”
But she didn’t come to scold at all. Instead, she marched straight up to me and pulled me into her arms. My body stiffened at first—I wasn’t entirely sure how to react.
“It’s okay,” she whispered into my ear.
This sudden sense of understanding coursed through my veins. Rather than furthering my level of depression, it seemed to pull me out a little. I wrapped my arms around my aunt and hugged her right back.
“She’s here,” Caroline assured me. “Don’t you worry about that.”
I sniffled a little as I pulled away from her, dabbing at the corners of my eyes. She was staring at me knowingly, a little glum.
“How’d you know?” I asked her weakly. “Am I that obvious?”
“No,” she smiled. “But it’s been on my mind all morning…and you are my blood. Figures we share the same thoughts.”
“I just wish it was different,” I shrugged. “Not always…I mean, I don’t even remember what it was like to have her around…So…It’s normal, I guess…But sometimes—sometimes I just really wish she was here.”
She nodded slowly, “I know. So do I.”
I took a deep breath, prepping myself to get back into the action.
“We should go in—”
“Blair,” my aunt rushed, looking immediately embarrassed for speaking so enthusiastically. “She would have been so proud of you…She would have given anything to be here for this…I just thought you should hear it.”
“Thanks,” I smiled.
She smiled back, “She would have loved Brian, too. Gosh, even I like Brian and I don’t like anyone.”
I laughed loudly, “Gosh?”
“Oh, stop,” she smirked. “We should get back.”
“Okay,” I breathed.
She rubbed my arm affectionately, “Ready?”
We walked back in together, my spirits effectively lifted for the time being. The girls looked confused about my outburst but they didn’t bring it up. I was grateful for them. Lauren approached me cautiously; she knew better than anyone how wild my emotions could be. She was endlessly weary of the wrath.
“I had an idea,” she told me quietly. “But I’m not sure if you’ll like it.”
I smirked, “Go on.”
“You go to the dressing room,” she said slowly. “We’ll each pick out a dress we think you’ll love…Maybe we can help you find one that way. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed.”
“And if I hate them all?” I mused.
She giggled, “Then you can come back here by yourself!”
“I’m willing to try whatever,” I shrugged. “Peace out, losers!”
I made myself comfortable in the dressing room. It was drafty in nothing but the silk robe and I tried to be patient as I waited for what felt like an eternity. But, eventually, the sales associate—Kim—came back with two armfuls of dresses.
She hung them up and I decided not to look at any of them. Maybe that was my problem—I was psyching myself out before anything had even gotten started. So, I decided to wait until they were on my body to decide I hated them.
“Which one would you like to try first?” Kim asked me happily.
I shrugged, “Whichever one you think is the ugliest.”
She chuckled, “Okay.”
She helped me slide dress after dress over my head, suffocating me each time as she fastened them in the back. By dress four, I was annoyed.
“I don’t even want to know who picked this one,” I spoke to the group, gesturing to the puffy sleeves stuck to my shoulders. “But just know that I hate you.”
Mona cackled, “You look great!”
“Fuck you, Mona,” I laughed.
“Is she always this pleasant with her friends?” Caroline asked Lauren quietly.
Lauren just nodded with a silly grin.
“We have a confession to make,” Marge spoke up nervously.
I cocked an eyebrow at her.
The group looked anxiously among themselves. I was standing alone, making wild hand gestures in attempts to get them to speak.
“We picked dresses we knew you’d hate,” Lauren said.
Mona nodded, “We just wanted to get you over the anxiety about putting a wedding dress on.”
“I didn’t have anxiety,” I grumbled to myself.
“We found a dress,” Marge told me with a real subtle smile. “And we all agreed it was perfect…”
“Well where is this perfect dress?” I asked impatiently, feeling a little duped.
Lauren rose from her seat and started pushing me toward the dressing room, shouting back to the group on the couches, “We’ll be back!”
“I’m annoyed with you,” I told her quietly, and although I was smiling; I fucking meant it.
She nodded, “Yeah, yeah.”
We ducked into the room and there was one single dress left hanging on the hook. I won’t lie, it took my breath away.
“We found it and just thought…Wow. That’s so Blair.”
I walked up to it nervously, like the fabric might spring to life and bite me. I ran the fabric though my fingers, admiring the beading on the bodice.
It had thin, off-the shoulder straps that were hardly even straps at all. They were made to look like tiny vines, occasionally leafing off into crystalized beauty. The entire top was designed to be partially sheath but the fabric and crystals were designed in such a way that it almost looked like the dress had been sewn from angelic feathers.
“Do you hate it?” Lauren asked when I hadn’t said anything.
I took a minute to respond, “No.”
“Should we put it on you?” Kim asked nervously, hiding away in the corner.
I nodded slowly.
As they slipped it over my head and fastened up the back, I already knew. The long slit up the skirt really only finalized my decision.
The tiniest details in the skirt made this dress…perfect.
“Oh my god,” Lauren gasped, throwing her hands over her face. “Blair…”
“Is it bad?” I laughed nervously, spinning around the look in the mirror.
I looked like a fucking bride.
“You look…” Lauren tried not to cry (but failed). “Do you love it?”
I smiled giddily, “I love it.”
“Come on,” she grabbed at me excitedly. “We have to show everyone else!”
The group was unanimous. Marge bawled like a baby.
“Good work, group,” I joked happily, giving myself another onceover in the giant mirror.
“Brian’s going to flip,” Mona grinned. “You’re a fucking goddess.”
“Stop,” I laughed. “You’re going to make me hate it if you keep gushing. Keep that shit on the DL.”
She rolled her eyes playfully, “For a celebrity you’re awfully shy.”
“Are we saying yes?” Kim asked finally when the group had settled down.
I nodded, “Oh, fuck yeah.”
My aunt looked appalled but didn’t say a word about my behavior. She really didn’t know me independently from her household—I think she’d suffered a great awakening.
Once I was back in my regular, everyday wear, Kim met me at the counter with my dream dress. Not that I’d ever really dreamt about wedding dresses…
She explained the alterations process and I pretended to listen. Caroline was listening though—so, at least I could call her up later when I had questions.
Kim gave me an outlandish total, which made my chest hurt. It seemed ridiculous to spend so much on something I’d wear once…but I loved it. And I wanted the experience to be over.
I pulled out my wallet but no sooner had I done so, was my aunt pushing my hand back down. She winked at me as she handed the lady a card.
She shushed me. Like a child.
But it worked.
With the receipt in hand and Kim trying to pull me off to take measurements, I ripped away for a minute.
“You didn’t need to do that,” I said quietly to my aunt. “It was expensive…I have more than enough money to cover it myself.”
“I know you do,” Caroline said, unflinching. “But I wanted to purchase it for you.”
“But why?” I insisted. “I have money—”
“Your mother would have wanted to buy your dress,” she stated simply.
I blinked at her.
“While I know I’m not your mother,” she said less confidently. “I am her sister. It’s only right, since I am able, that I pay for your wedding dress.”
There were the waterworks again. Something about anything bridal had a tendency to make me weepy as hell. I hated it. This was why the wedding planner was hired.
And to keep me from stabbing Brian in the chest.
“Thank you,” I said softly, trying to keep it together.
She smiled fondly, “I love you, Blair. It’s my pleasure.”
I couldn’t help but truly appreciate just how far Caroline and I had crawled to get to this place together. I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard those three words come from her lips—but they were enough to resolve my mother issues for the moment.
She wasn’t my mother, and she certainly had never been motherly like Marge. But she’d raised me—and she’d raised me to be strong. Everything I was…was in large part thanks to her.
And we’d made it.
I wrapped an arm around her shoulders, leaning my head against hers, “You know I love you too.”
In case anyone is interested, Blair's dress is based on a real dress I'd stumbled upon. The link below will take you to a google result--so, if you want to see Blair's dress...That's how ya'd do it.
For those of you who don't care and are just here for the written fiction, thanks for reading :)