You Can Bury Me in This Dress

Flash
Aubrey Rose Murrin


The newspaper didn’t get delivered anymore, so he stopped at Convenient. He stood in the corner, next to the magazines and flipped through the local Times to the obituary page, and there she was, wearing her favorite dress: his mother. Of course, the color of the dress, a light, rosy pink, did not come through in the newsprint, and her corsage was cropped out by the newspaper’s art department. But it was still her smiling at him from behind her glasses.

“You can bury me in this dress,” she said the day the photo was taken, while she admired the way the sequins caught light from the church dressing room’s overhead bulb. “It’s just gorgeous. I feel like Jackie O.”

“If only we had some big sunglasses,” he remembers saying as he pinned the corsage on her dress—but it was drizzly, so it would not have mattered much.

Now nothing from that day remains: his marriage, the corsage, his mother.

The morning after she died, mere hours after Father McNulty had given Last Rites, he drove her car to every shop in town to find a replacement for the dress she wore to his wedding. Her weight had dropped so much, she couldn’t be buried in the original; two of her would fit in that dress now.

He found one at what he remembered was his mother’s favorite shop, Cullins’ Cottage, though she could only ever afford a dress from there every year or so. It was so expensive he had to charge it, but it was nearly the same color, with beads instead of sequins, which he knew she would find more appropriate. He liked how the fabric felt delicate, and noted that despite this, it felt durable. When he heard the final pull of the protective bag’s zipper, he thought about just how long this dress would need to last.

After he left Cullins’, he brought her old dress to a secondhand shop on Andora Avenue. While the owner, Hattie McBride, was on her way to the counter from the mending station in the back, she waved in a hurried way. She carried a tomato-shaped pincushion; his mother had the same one.

One look at her eyes told him that even though it had just happened, she’d already heard the news. Springston was that small. He remembered why he had left.

He placed the dress next to the register and patted it once, shouting back to her, “That is all, Mrs. McBride, but thank you much.” With one raise of his hand, he waved goodbye in a way he hoped appeared stoic.

The beep of the video game next to the convenience store’s newspapers startled him. It sounded like a hospital monitor. He wondered when these thoughts would stop.

He folded the newspaper and picked up another.

It wasn’t until he was back in her car, smelling her lilac perfume, that he remembered his mother wouldn’t need a copy.

pencil

Aubrey Rose Murrin grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She writes both fiction and poetry, attempting to document every moment, every image, and every conversation in this mysterious, special, and fragile world. Her most recent full-length project, Photo Synthesis, is a collection of ten fictional short stories based entirely on found photographs, giving new life to these abandoned memories. She currently lives, writes, and walks her dog, Cooper, in Pennsylvania. E-mail: aubrey.murrin[at]gmail.com