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Cover Story


Wear It On the Inside



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Standing in the bedroom doorway, I watch as she searches through her closet. A large blue bathrobe wraps snugly around her ample figure, and her freshly washed hair is wound up in curlers.

Unaware of my presence, she hums a tune. It seems like ages since I’ve seen her so happy. But then again, it’s been ages since she’s had any reason to be happy.

Tonight she’s preparing to go on her first date—at least her first date since Daddy left. She pulls out a dress from the closet. Turning to look in the mirror, she glances my way.

“What do you think?” she asks.

I nod my head. “It’s beautiful.”

I remember my first date three years ago. How Daddy had kept quiet all evening, afraid he’d say something wrong. How Katrina had more than made up for his silence by chanting continuously, “Rhonda loves Eric! Rhonda loves Eric!” How Mother had given me the brooch.

“I want you to have this,” she had said as she handed it to me. “My mother gave it to me when I went on my first date.” She had looked at it and chuckled. “Of course, I thought it was ugly. But if you wear it on the inside of your pocket, no one will ever know you have it on.” And then she had hugged me.

Was that the last time she hugged me? I wonder as I watch her put on her makeup. I can’t remember.

It had been around then that the trouble started between her and Daddy, and he had walked out, taking Katrina with him.

It had also been around then that I started coming in after curfew and missing meals.

“You’re never home anymore,” she mentioned one Saturday evening as I was preparing to go out.

I had snapped at her. I don’t remember exactly what I said; I only remember the hurt that escaped from her eyes as she turned and slowly left the room. My guilt and my pride wouldn’t allow me to apologize.

How she must have hurt, I think as I remember how I began to yell more and more, even going as far as telling her that I hated her.

And not once had she yelled back, not once had she given me the treatment that I knew I deserved. Had that been why I hated her? Because she had continued to love me although I had not treated her right?

 

Turnabout

I watch as she peers into the mirror, brushing on mascara, her hand trembling slightly. And for the first time I see past the mask of motherhood into her heart, where she has always been a little girl, afraid and lonely, yet hopeful. Hopeful that everything would be all right again—the way it would have been if Daddy had never left.

I had once been hopeful also. But I had long since lost that hope. I had given up on ever being happy again. Yet now as I watch my mother, I know that somewhere deep inside me that hope still remains, waiting only to be proved.

Silently I watch as Mother rummages through a drawer. Then turning to me she asks, “Do you have my hand mirror in your room?”

“Oh, yeah,” I say quickly as I jump up to get it for her. 

Crossing my cluttered room, I notice the brooch sitting on my windowsill. Picking it up, I turn and carry it gingerly to my mother’s room.

“Mother,” I say, surprised at the softness of my voice, “I want you to have this.” I look down at my hands nervously before continuing. “I know you think it’s ugly, but if you wear it on the inside of your pocket . . .”

I feel the soft touch of her hand on mine as she takes it and pins it on the front of her dress.

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” she says. And as a tear falls from the corner of her eye, she hugs me.  

 

This story won first prize in the Student Short Story category of the 1989 Insight writing contest and originally appeared in the January 20, 1990, issue. At that time Lori Pettibone was a freshman at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. She is now married, has added the last name Futcher, has two talented children, and lives in Cleveland, Tennessee. She worked in the field of public relations for more than 15 years before devoting herself full-time to her family and Creator. In her free time she enjoys freelancing and creative hobbies. Though this story is written in first person, it is not about her own parents, who remained happily married for nearly 40 years until her mother’s death in 2011.

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