In The Closet by Yvette Managan

Mary stood before her opened closet fingering the chiffon maroon dress. She'd worn it only once, decades ago when her marriage was new. She and Bob met in Key West and wed in a whirl-wind. Two weeks after she'd placed the wrong drink in front of that rakish man with the surly smile they'd stood before the County Clerk and exchanged vows.

The tiny man raised his notebook, looked up at nervous Bob and asked, "Will you promise to love, honor, cherish and obey ... ?"

And Bob said, "Yes."

Mary's sister Evelyn and her common law wife Brenda were witnesses and they cheered.

"Finally a straight one in the family!"

"Sshh!" The clerk glared at the women. Then he'd turned to Mary, grinned and asked, "Will you just promise to be nice?"

Everybody laughed.

She had tried. Through rough times and his indiscretions, she had tried. They'd gathered up her small children and headed off to Louisiana, "to visit my folks an' eat ersters in N'Orlins." he'd said. Uncle Tom welcomed the new family with smiles and hugs and the announcement, "Linda's getting married tamorrow and y'aller invited!"

So they'd bought the dress. It showed off her slender figure, falling from her compact breasts, hugging her tiny waist and floating down her woman hips. Ten minutes into the reception Mary slipped, feet flying first across the newly waxed dance floor, on her way to pinning the dollars to Linda's gown. A hush fell over the room. Bob turned red and then turned away.

No, that dress wouldn't do. It still had a long tear down the back, where her heel had snagged.

Mary selected the black jeans and scrutinized them. The large hole down the right thigh had been patched from the inside; its frayed edges framed hand embroidered lines that meandered over and around the repair, as a child's coloring falls outside the lines.

Bob had noticed Mary's handiwork; the colored threads weaving in and out of each other, and commented, "Rainbows, huh? Waterya gay now? I knew it-jes' like yer sister."

"No Bob, sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow."

"Yeah but your not even startin' the' rainbow right. Starts with a red, then orange -you don't even have that."

"I don't like orange and maybe they are just colored lines."

"Yellow, green, blue, violet, see? Then yer startin' with a red agin. Boy 'er you stupid."

"Could be, Bob."

"Don't know how I cudda married ya."

Mary let the pants drop back into line. She touched the top of the next hanger, shifting it to see what hung from it. The off-white linen suit. Too severe, she thought. Mary halted her search, closed her eyes and sighed. Maybe severe was how she should present herself. Or better yet, maybe she could get in one last zing. Since Evelyn's separation, Mary and Brenda had become confidents, sharing secrets and palling around town. She could pick Brenda up on the way to the lawyer's office. No judge - it didn't matter what she wore, she and Bob had agreed on everything. She looked back at the pants and slid them off the hanger. They might be just right.

@ 2007 Managan

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