Thrift Store Wedding Dress

By: Hannah Garrett

Each item made a different sound as it sailed through the air and into the open box, the various buttons, zippers, and buckles touching the cardboard in different ways. Swish. Whoosh. Scrape. I wedged myself into the miniscule closet to reach the final set of hangers when I saw it. Crinkling softly between a winter coat and the cool drywall, it hung beneath a grey plastic bag bearing the name of a long-dead department store. The first time I saw it, my best friend laughed, but I saw the bones beneath the outdated cut and giant sleeves.

I heard the strangely satisfying noise of the seam ripper tearing its way through the 25-year-old fabric and the tinkle of pretend pearls being released into a porcelain dish by a freshly severed tassel.  I felt the cool window being used as a light box beneath a sheet of pattern paper to draft new pieces that would accommodate and flatter a shape that had parts a bit larger than the one that came before. The stiff tulle rustled and scratched as it worked its way over my head and shoulders and hips for the first time. I thought of the hands and arms that touched it when it was new and the different set of hands and arms that touched it again so many years later, the only difference being the body beneath it.

I looked at it in the dim light of my closet. How wonderful it must be to exist solely in a world where things are beautiful and optimistic and loving; a world where the only stains are from things like chocolate cake and mascara smudged by joyful tears. How wonderful to exist only in those happy moments that accompany new beginnings, yet never have to see them end. I looked at my empty left hand, the fourth finger still bearing a faint indention from the thin gold band that used to rest there, the flesh flat, smooth, and shining—like a scar.

I pulled the gray plastic back down and tied it at the bottom. Gently, I folded the bag into thirds and placed it in the box in which it would travel to a new home to hang in a new closet, blissfully oblivious to the outside world and patiently wait to be worn again.