Lucia is five now, and is a spitting-image of Mama. Her eyes are the same sapphire hue as Mama’s were. She has Mama’s calm and collected mannerisms. She is always doing things that remind us of her. Lucia’s first day of school is tomorrow. She is the same age that I was when Mama died. Today is the anniversary of her death, but also Lucia’s birthday. This day is always hard, mourning Mama, while still celebrating Lucia. And I want her to wear the purple dress I wore on my first day of school.
“Lucia, come here!” I hollered up our grand staircase.
“Coming, Lyly!” I heard her shout back, her small voice echoing around our diamond chandelier as her light steps hurried down the hall. Her silly nickname for me, Lyly. She couldn’t pronounce Lydia when she was little and Lyly just stuck.
“I have a birthday present for you.” I say as her head poked over the railing. Her eyes light up and she runs down the stairs, almost tripping over her hem.
“Really? What is it? What is it? What is it?”
“She is so excited, I hope this won’t disappoint her,” I thought nervously. “What if she doesn’t like it?”
“I have a dress for you to wear on your first day of school!” I try to not sound nervous. “It’s in my room. Would you like to see it?”
“Yay! A new dress!”
“It’s not new. It was mine when I was your age.” I don’t know if that is going to make her upset, but it seems it did the opposite.
“IT WAS YOURS? WOW!” I’m not sure why she is so excited. I would never want to wear one of Elizabeth’s or Molly’s dresses, but Lucia didn’t seem to care.
“Alright Love, let’s see if it fits.” We walk back up the stairs, I graze my hand on the polished railing, smooth and shiny from the constant use. We pass all of our siblings rooms and get to mine at the end of the hall. I had insisted on this room when we moved in. Mama was still pregnant, our old house becoming too small for another child. It overlooks the main street where people are always walking past and looking too busy for their own good. Lucia tugs on my arm, pulling me out of my daydream.
“Lets go! I want to put it on!” Oh Lucia, always eager to try something new, especially clothing.
“Alright, alright.” I say trying not to laugh. We walk in to my room, the same as it was all those years ago. I never re-painted or re-decorated because Mama had helped me and I never want to forget her, or the way she had helped me position my bed to catch the morning sun. We walked into my closet, all the way to the back to where I keep all my clothes that I outgrew, for this exact purpose. So Lucia can have something that Mama had made. She was a seamstress and always sewed when she had the time. This little purple dress had been a surprise for me. The beads scratchy on the outside, but the inside made of silk smoother than fresh water. This dress was my favorite and I was heartbroken when it didn’t fit anymore. I have kept it for so long. So long, waiting for a purpose to use it.
“Lyly! Hurry up!” Lucia screeches, always thinking she was the most important; she’s not totally wrong though, we all spoil her more than we’ve spoiled anyone, ever.
“Why? Do you have somewhere important to go?”
“Yes. I am having a tea party in ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes? Wow, you are a busy little bumble bee,” I tease, hoping I was invited to gorge on plastic food and air. Pretending that I was eating the most delectable cake I’d ever tasted, chocolate and vanilla swirled together to make the perfect combination of sweetness and richness. With fresh strawberries to cut the candied taste with their crisp zing of a summer day long forgotten.
“Where is it?” She demands, “I want to wear it to my tea party.”
“Okay, as long as you don’t get it dirty for school tomorrow. Close your eyes.”
“Because it’s a surprise!”
“Oh, okay!” She closes her gorgeous eyes, shielding them from the unfamiliar dress about to be presented to her. I pulled the dress out from the storage rack with all the other dresses I used to wear. The fabric worn, but still so soft from the constant wear. I put it in her outstretched hands, waiting for her eyes to pop open. When they do, they are the most amazed I’ve ever seen them.
“Wow,” she whispers, in complete shock of the swirling beads and layers of tulle and fabric. “I didn’t know this many colors of purple existed,”
“Yeah, I know. I was amazed too the first time I saw it. It is gorgeous.”
“What does that mean, Gworgeeus?”
“Gorgeous? It means beautiful. Just like you.” Lucia beams, used to being doted on by our family.
“Can I put it on?” She is just as eager as ever as she rushed to slip it over her head.
“Of course.” As she pulls it on, tears came to my eyes, she looked absolutely radiant. “Do you like it?”
“I love it!” She rushed to my mirror, looking at herself as she twirled and spun to see how the dress would hold up while she was playing. “Would you like to come to my tea party?” She added on as she jumps around testing her flexibility.
“I would be happy to.” I have never been invited to one of the exclusive Lucia tea parties. “What should I wear?”
“That is fine, we have hurry to get there before everyone else.”
“Who else is coming?”
“Philip, Elizabeth, Molly, Papa, you, me.”
“Everyone?” She had never invited any of us to a tea party before.
“Yeah, I decided that I was too lonely even with my teddies.”
“Okay Love, lead the way.”