by Maggie Marr
Okay, I did, I went there. Surely I'm not the only person who thought of this? As I grow older and the longer I am a writer and the more I sit--staring at my computer--the more junk in my trunk I have both metaphorically and literally---every possible horrible pun intended. I have no shame.
But, I do have plenty of junk in the trunk.
I guess I shouldn't call it junk per se--as I'd much rather consider every unpublished manuscript or bits of unused manuscript tools in my learning process and not the incessant time wasters that made me tear out huge chunks of hair.
I have plenty of trunk novels. A few have even been reworked over a period of years and seen the light of day. The first was:
Can't Buy Me Love
The second is Courting Trouble which comes out September 2012.
And then there is still the manuscript that I haven't quite cracked--the one that continues to get away. I've spent countless hours on this little baby. The book has been titled and retitled. It's been first person pov, it's been third person pov, it's even been multiple person pov. It's been set in the present and in the past--this little beaut has even been a tv pilot. The first chapter has been changed--as in completely changed--a total of 6 times. And yet--it still isn't right. It is still in the trunk. I'm not even sure what to call it anymore. Let's go with the last title.
Mothers & Daughters
The wedding dress was white. The white so vibrant it pained my eyes. I reached out my hand and my fingertips brushed against the crystals delicately stitched into silk. Symmetrical chaos as beauty. I longed for symmetry, for pattern, for continuity. Without, the discipline of symmetry there could be no beauty. Each crystal that clung to the gown grabbed the light. The tiny glass beads appeared as though they’d been tossed onto the dress and found their home at random. Not in the carefully crafted placement and stitch for each and every tiny piece of handmade glass.
“We’ll have a French bustle then,” my mother, Judith’s words sliced through the air.
The three seamstresses bustled around the hemline of the dress. Not one of them looked up to acknowledge Judith’s dictate, so used to her barking orders at them over the last five months. Were they as excited about putting this wedding behind them as I was?
Judith met my gaze and raised her eyebrow. Her look contained the beginning of a million arguments we fought and a million more that never began because I clenched my jaw and ground my teeth. She stared at me, her lips set in a tight line, as if daring anyone, including me, to defy her mandate for a French bustle.
Viva la France.
If my Mother had ever needed to hold a job, perhaps creating beautiful parties, out of a bride or socialite’s random musings would have been a career that suited her. Judith planned events with the precision of a general on a military campaign and with just as much warmth. And yet, each charity event she organized, or school fundraiser, or dinner, or cocktail party was a unique expression like a living painting, a moving still-life made all the more beautiful by its ephemeral nature.
The beauty lasted for one night, the colors, smells and sounds evaporated by the next day, as though a faint, yet brilliant dream. Not-for-profits clamored for my mother to sit on their board of directors if only for her expertise in planning a good party for their annual fundraiser.
“This won’t do.” Judith pointed to the back of the white dress, her long nail, so close and yet not touching the silk. “Do you see? It isn’t laying flat.”
Judith waited for the head seamstress to look and acknowledge the tiniest pull in the fabric.
“Nothing to be done,” the seamstress said. She looked over the tops of her eyeglasses. “That is a wrinkle, it will come out when we press the dress.”
“That isn’t a wrinkle,” Judith continued, her voice low. My mother didn’t raise her voice--ever. Judith didn’t need volume because one look into her slate grey eyes could freeze you, set you trembling with fear or at the very least cause severe intestinal distress. Or in my case send me scrambling for a bag of double-stuffed Oreos. “That is a misplaced stitch in a seam.”
I watched in the mirror as the seamstress rolled her eyes to the left peering at my mother’s face without turning her head. She bent forward and ran her finger over the tiny imperfection, a wrinkle that neither I, nor any one of the 400 guests invited to the wedding, would notice and yet Judith stared at the fabric as though the seamstresses at Saks had dipped this handmade Vera Wang gown shipped from New York into a vat of orange dye.
“Perhaps, it is the seam.” The seamstress leaned forward and ran her hand across the back of the dress. She pulled her head back and looked at my mother as if relenting to Judith, surprised that this woman, who the seamstress guessed had never lifted a needle in her life, would know a dropped stitch when she saw one. “I will fix,” she said and nodded her head.
My mother nodded to the seamstress without even a hint of satisfaction at her being right and the seamstress’s error. For Judith the day of the dress, the day of the wedding wasn’t about right or wrong, this day was about fabulous presentation. The day was an homage to a long dead friend.
Judith circled the dress. She leaned in and peered at the fabric and stared at the dress from every angle as though assessing a work of art for purchase. Judith tilted her head to assess the fit from the front and in that moment of recognition, the air rushed from my lungs.
Similarities between Judith and myself still smacked me hard in the chest. I recognized the look on my mother’s face. How she tightened her jaw, her mind locked deep in concentration. How she placed her head on top of her hand as though to hold her head steady. My life was an attempt to be different from my mother, and here in a throw-away moment was Judith exhibiting mannerisms identical to mine. The same look, the same head tilt, the same stare as when I assessed the purple lines that I drew on my sleeping patients prior to their surgeries.
Meg leaned over, “You okay?" She whispered into my ear. “You look a little green.”
“I’m fine,” I whispered back, my eyes still glued to my Mother’s face. She reached out toward the wedding gown without touching. I watched her fingertips fall back to her side.
“You look stunning,” Judith said. A smile finally escaped onto her face. “There won’t ever be a more beautiful bride.”
I took a deep breath, pressed my tongue to the roof of my mouth and willed myself not to cry. Anger is a surface emotion to pain, and the pain mixed with guilt that sat heavy in my chest forced my throat to close tight. I clenched my teeth together and felt the familiar hard squeaky sensation of enamel grinding against enamel.
My best friend Izzy, stood on the alteration pedestal the center of my Mother’s world, the focus of Judith’s concentrated efforts today and for always. Tall and willowy, Izzy’s long light hair fell effortlessly down her back. I met Izzy’s gaze in the mirror and I saw sympathy in her sky blue eyes, sympathy I neither wanted nor deserved. Jealousy is an unseemly emotion and a difficult one to hide. I took a deep breath and quickly pulled my gaze away from Izzy and her radiance.
“Laura darling?" My mother shifted her eyes toward mine in the mirror. “Do you have something to say?”
Meg stiffened beside me. Judith stared at me now. Her eyebrow cocked, head tilted as if daring me, provoking me, willing me to acknowledge the pain within me that she caused with her words, her behavior, her cold and rigid manner. I glanced down at my periwinkle bridesmaid gown and pulled my shoulders back. A tight smile formed on my lips. I caught sight of my sharp cheekbones and strong chin in the mirror. The insouciant tilt of my head a silent rebellion daring Judith to come after me with more words.
My light blue eyes, less colorful than Izzy’s, held not a hint of emotion that Judith could use as a weapon against me. I looked at Izzy's reflection, and the part of me that desperately wanted to be a bride this summer--had expected to be a bride this summer--that part of me, didn’t want to, but had to agree with Judith.
“I think you’re absolutely right Mother. Izzy may be the world’s most beautiful bride.”
End of Chapter 1.
Alright--so one day--someday--maybe I will get back to this manuscript. *Sigh*
Leave a comment. Tell me a little somethin' somethin' about your wedding day or if you've yet to wed--what you want on your wedding day. Random.org will pick a winner and you can have a digital copy of Can't Buy Me Love.
I leave you with a little more junk in the trunk--some of my favorite.
Oh, yeah--nothin' like a little Beckham booty.
Maggie Marr is the author of Hollywood Girls Club, Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club, Can't Buy Me Love and Courting Trouble (September 2012). She also writes for film and tv. You can follow her on her blog, pinterest, facebook, and twitter. She lives in LA with her perfect family. Please buy her books--as she writes for food.