Writer's Island-Renewal

Treesa cast a critical eye on her reflection, turning sideways to avoid the morning sun pouring into the sewing room. "You'll never remake this dress to fit me," she said, plucking at the delicate ivory fabric hanging loosely from her slender waist. "It was a stupid idea for me to wear your wedding dress anyway."

Anna managed a gentle "tsk" from around the mouthful of straight pens gripped between her lips. What made her daughter such a worrier? she wondered. Always determined that things wouldn't work out, that nothing would go her way. Sighing, Anna reached underneath the dress and folded at least two inches of fabric toward the inseams. Such a "skinny minnie", too, picking at her food, turning up her nose at the hearty meals Anna prepared for the family's table.

Of course, with all this food rationing, Anna thought, it's no wonder she's wasting away to nothing. Since the States had entered the war two years ago, Anna was hard pressed to cobble together anything fit to eat. Treesa's delicate appetite had waned even further, faced with dishes like Spam Casserole, Oatmeal Loaf, and boiled beef tongue.

Anna could feel Treesa's impatience as she knelt beside her, lovingly caressing the folds of fabric as she continued to work. She smiled, remembering the excitement with which she and her mother had shaped this gown from yards of satin, the tremble of her mother's hands as she sewed the last of the 100 pearl buttons, the shiver of anticipation Anna had felt as she imagined Andrew unbuttoning each one on their wedding night.

Treesa's deep sigh roused Anna from these pleasant memories.

"Really, Mother," she said, "shouldn't we give up on this once and for all? I'm perfectly happy to wear the floral tea dress I had for Aunt Rose's birthday."

"You will not be married in some garish flowered, short dress!" Anna exclaimed. "I don't care whether it's wartime or not, or that "all the other girls" are doing it. You have the opportunity to wear a perfectly beautiful, traditional wedding gown, and that's what you'll do." She jabbed one last pin roughly into the fabric, offering a silent apology to her precious dress.

"Well, at least get rid of this silly sash," Tressa complained, grabbing a fistful of the pale blue satin ribbon wrapped twice around her waist. "No one would use a sash on their wedding dress in 1943!"

"Fine," Anna muttered, trying not to think about the way Andrew had gently placed the ribbon against her cheek, comparing the delicate blue material to the shade of her eyes. Young people have no appreciation for history, she thought, for tradition, or cherishing the things that matter. Rising from her knees, trying desperately to keep the annoyance from her voice, she released Treesa from her obvious discomfort. "You can take off the dress now," she said, smoothing her red serge skirt and tucking a pincushion into the pocket of her apron. "I'll have to start work on it right after dinner if there's to be any chance of finishing it by Saturday." Anna glanced at her daughter, who continued to stand motionless before the mirror. The sun had shifted slightly, leaving the girl standing in the midst of one solitary ray, as if a spotlight were shining directly from heaven, setting her auburn hair alight with sparks of reddish flame, illuminating the satin where it lay in gentle folds.

Tears jumped into Anna's eyes-such a beautiful girl was her Mary Teresa, she thought, catching her breath. About to start a new life with a young solider off to war, embark on a future that held only God knew what. Could wearing this dress bring her the kind of love Anna had felt for her Andrew, a love that would ignite a spark of light and happiness into those dark, shadowy eyes?

At last Treesa turned from the mirror, meeting her mother's teary gaze. "You know," she said, smiling slightly, "perhaps there's still some life in this dress after all."

Anna grinned, briskly wiping a tear from her cheek. "There most certainly is," she agreed. "Plenty of new life to go around!"

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