This story is by Amanda DeLong and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
I had completed the planters and all the cakes were iced and decorated. I designed all the mixed planters to thrill, fill, and spill. The cakes, icing, and all decorations had been tasted by my husband Ben and passed inspection. All that was left to do was get dressed for what, according to old Mrs. Willis, was the Fiftieth Annual Good Friday Extravaganza.
No one is going to question her about that little fact again. One of the children at church asked why you would have an extravaganza on Good Friday, after learning that Jesus died that day. Her answer scarred the child. She has very strong opinions about how things should be. Not that the answer she gave to the child was incorrect, the delivery was just a bit much.
Being seven months pregnant, I purchased a new outfit and shoes for the extravaganza. We celebrate God sending his son to die for our sins and have a short service, meal, auction, and activities for the kids. It is open to anyone and is always fun. After applying Ben’s favorite lotion and doing my makeup, I put on my light pink dress. With its empire waist and a high-low hem that ends a few inches above my knees in the front, it makes me feel float-y.
“Megan?! You ‘bout ready?”
“Yes, Ben! Just shoes.”
I purchased a pair of knee high tan boots with no heel to wear with the dress. I would have loved heels, but alas, Ben wouldn’t have let me out of the house in them. They match the leather jacket.
“’Kay. I’ll load up the truck!”
After thinking about it, I call out a warning.
“There better not be bites missing from those cakes, Ben!”
I receive no answer. I know he heard me because I don’t hear the door until a few seconds later. I grab the boots and sit on the bed to put them on. I can’t bend over too well, but I can turn sideways and maneuver my shoes on. Luckily, I am not so large that I can’t lean over and see my feet. One down, one to go.
“No, no, no. This is not happening right now.”
No, nuh-uh, nada, nope, no, no! I check the size. Size five! I check the time. Stopping at the shoe store on the way over to the church is out. If I wasn’t pregnant, I would have other shoes that would work. I will be on my feet for a while today and my feet will swell. I purposely went and picked-out shoes when my feet were swollen so this wouldn’t be a problem! I had tried on the display size, so the sales associate offered to get my size from the back. The display boots had a little more wear and the zipper was finicky. Now, I wish I had just kept them. At least, the size would have been correct! I should have checked them myself!
I go and survey my shoes. All heels are out! Black won’t work. I have a pair of boots that are similar, but they are white. That will not work. If this wasn’t an event at church, I would wear those. I wouldn’t have even bought another pair. As much as I don’t ascribe to the belief that you can only wear white at Easter and until Labor Day, Mrs. Willis does. She rules the church with an iron fist, partly because she is the oldest member and everyone respects her and because she has very set opinions. Almost a week ago, she gave one of the teenagers a dressing down for a dress that was a very pale teal. She thought it was white! She seemed to feel bad about that though. The preacher is the only one she doesn’t dare critique. Sandals are out, the straps would cut into my feet as the day wears on. Sparkly converse? No. That would be just as bad as something white. I find a tan pair of booties. Please God. Let these fit. I sit on the bed and attempt to put them on.
“Ben! This is all your fault!”
In response, I hear Ben running up the stairs. I suppose I shouldn’t blame him. But come on, I could wear heels, if not for that time in the downstairs double shower. We just had to break it in! Or, maybe it was that time in the kitchen. New counters babe, he said and raised his pierced eyebrow at me!
“You look gorgeous. What’s up?”
“What’s up?! What’s up?! You made me this way! I could fix this, if it wasn’t for you!”
I throw a pillow at his head. I do have to admit, if only to myself, I’m not mad at him for either of those events. I wouldn’t take back being pregnant or the fun we had getting there. And with Ben, it is always an event.
“Love,” he says.
Ugh! That stupid growl-y voice of his gets me every time! I flop back on the bed. He lays down next to me, turns my face to his, and kisses me softly.
Looking into my eyes, he asks me, “What wrong, love?”
“I am sorry for throwing a pillow at you. These stupid shoes!”
“I’m sorry about throwing that drill at you earlier too!”
“You know I forgive you for that, right? No records of wrongs babe,” he says.
“I know, Ben.”
“What’s wrong with these shoes of yours?”
“When the sales girl went to exchange the display pair she didn’t make sure the sizes were the same on the shoes, and I didn’t check either, and we don’t have time to stop, and I can’t wear heels the whole time because of the baby, and I can’t be barefoot part of the time because Mrs. Willis would harp on you, and.”
I stop my running mess of words.
“Breathe love. Breathe. I know you have another pair of boots. I do appreciate you looking out for me with Mrs. Willis, but if you needed to take your shoes off she could just go suck an egg.”
I want to laugh at that.
“Ah … there’s a little smile,” he says.
“The other boots are white Ben.”
“So? I always think they are sexy when you wear them.”
“You remember Sunday. And thank you.”
“Exactly,” I say.
We are silent.
“Love, put on the white boots.”
He sees the look of horror on my face.
He helps me up and I go slip on the boots. These come over my knee and you can see an inch or two of skin between them and the dress. I change into my white cropped leather jacket. I like this better than the original outfit. Ben whistles when I come out. That boosts my spirits.
“Let me ask you. If we were going anywhere else, would you wear this?”
“Then if old Mrs. Willis doesn’t understand, she will just have to deal. The Bible doesn’t say anything about not wearing white before Easter. Or, we can drop everything off and go do something else.”
“It doesn’t. You know we have to at least be there for a couple of hours.”
“How about we pray about it and give it up to God?”
“Prayer is always a good idea,” I say.
Ben grabs my hands and leads us in prayer.
“Heavenly Father, we come to you now knowing you know and see all. We love Mrs. Willis, but are concerned and don’t want to hurt her feelings. Please don’t let her be hurt by this circumstance of shoe color. Please guide us and give us all peace, if it be your will. Let us step out in faith that you will guide this situation. We pray for the extravaganza and that your word and love is spread to all who need it. God, we love you. In your name, we pray, Amen.”
“Feeling okay about this now?”
“Maybe even a bit daring. Put back in your lip ring. Both of us might as well step out as ourselves together,” I say.
“Yep! Besides, you know I miss it when you don’t wear it.”
I get a sexy twist of his lips at that.
“You were saying the baby was all my fault?”
“Still think that.”
He laughs as we head out of the house. He helps me into the truck and we are on our way to the church.
“Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere in Romans, to welcome and accept your brothers and sisters in Christ openly even if they don’t necessarily see things the way you might and to work for the up-building of each other?”
“It does. Chapter fourteen,” he says.
As we park he looks at me and says, “Seriously, so sexy right now.” He pulls me in for a kiss that is probably inappropriate for our location. I give his lip ring a tug as we separate.
“Woman …” he growls.
Some of the men start unload the trailer, as he helps me from the truck. He grabs the stack of cake boxes in one hand and my hand in the other.
“Ready,” I answer.
“Head high. It’s just a normal day.”
We walk past the people in the entry way and make the turn for the kitchen. I don’t even see Mrs. Willis through all the people. As I finish assembling the cakes, I hear her laughter near.
“Megan and Ben! The cakes look amazing and I have my eye on a few of the planters outside,” she says as she hugs us.
“Let me look at you both. How is that baby?” she asks as she steps back.
I am ready to tell about the shoes when she laughs. What?! Ben and I both share a look. She leans into both of us still laughing.
“Thank you. I was becoming so tired of sticking to those stupid color rules!”
“Last week,” I interject.
“Someone has to be the grouchy old woman everyone is afraid of. No one’s had the courage to boldly go against something ‘the old lady’ said before. Most things I say because it is expected. That’s what the ‘old ladies’ said to me when I was young. Ben, I like the ring. It’s much better than looking at that hole in your lip.”
“Are we in a different universe?” Ben asks.
“No, my dears. I just decided I didn’t want to be those ‘old ladies’. I want to be me. I dislike harping at everyone for things I don’t even mean. Thank you for wearing white shoes. Want to walk with me to my car so I can change my shoes? I didn’t have the courage to wear them before. Then we’ll sit outside and boss the men. The old woman and the pregnant lady.”
“Sounds like a plan, Mrs. Willis,” I say.
Ben kisses me, hugs Mrs. Willis and says, “I am going to come steal my Megan from you after I see if anything needs to be done. Watch out for my girl, Mrs. Willis.”
And there we sat. Pregnant lady and old woman. My white boots and Mrs. Willis’ sparkly white converse. The rebel and the … hmm. Maybe, we were both the rebel.
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