It’s my firm belief that unless we learn to love ourselves unconditionally, we can never truly love another person. This theme runs through much of what I’ve written, from short stories to my recently completed novel.
Enjoy the story…I’ll be posting part 2 in the next few weeks.
Choosing a Hat
A Story About Love
She needed a hat for her funeral. The black linen suit with the coral silk blouse would be properly somber, a reflection on the life she lived between the sweet smell of her son’s head and the skid marks of her husband’s undershorts. The pearls would reflect the bonds that kept her perfect wife and mother. Navy blue pumps with a little bit of a heel would pay proper respect to the Methodists.
But what to do about the hat? She supposed she didn’t need one, she thought as she pushed open the glass door to Fran’s Hat Shop. On the other hand, unbound platinum hair might give her away. Of course, she could always add to the note she’d prepared for the funeral director. “Hair away from the face,” she’d write, “but not pretentious.” Women who provided commuter breakfasts and sack lunches on a regular schedule were not pretentious.
The store owner turned from her current customer and started to walk towards her. She waved Fran away. What could she say? “A hat for my funeral, Fran. Oh, yes, a funeral is quite necessary. Brings closure to the family, you know.” Fran would think her insane.
She had been in the gossamer web of black silk for years; she wondered that no one noticed. It must be some skill, she thought, to make yourself so invisible that the people who love you have forgotten who you are. Even the red geraniums she’d planted faded to television gray. She didn’t have the energy to colorize them. Her energy had been sucked out. The perfect geranium had been sacrificed to the perfect martini.
Her eyes refocused on the parade of hats. Black, she decided. The hat should be black, a contrast to her paleness, a period on her life. She moved to the tree annotated with black hats. But which one? Short brimmed? She tried it on and found it too severe – perfect for the VP of finance, but not the VP of dirty socks. The wide-brimmed straw hat with the white grosgrain ribbon might have been perfect for one of the ladies who lunch, but she had never been invited to join them.
A floppy denim hat caught her eye. Well, that was all wrong. It could have belonged in her life if she’d rented the room in Aix-en-Provence, but she’d come back home for Thomas’s ring instead. She sighed and moved on. It was too late now. The pills had been bought and hoarded. She would lay out her clothes in the chair by the garden window and put on her white cotton night gown with the pink ribbon. She’d purchased a rubber sheet for the bed, having read that suicides were messy. She would take the pills and quietly slip off. No one would notice until she didn’t appear at her next appointed task. And then, they wouldn’t be able to complain too much, because she’d already handled her funeral arrangements.
To be continued….
copyright 2004 by Casey Dawes