Here, There be a Writer

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Birthright

“Oh, it’s beautiful, Nana,” Celeste said, staring into the box where a blue dress lay folded up neatly. It looked, almost, like a piece of origami paper what with the white polka dots that looked like stars swimming in a sea of inky blackness. Celeste ran her hand over the fabric. It felt woolen and slightly itchy and made her less likely to actually wear it. But as she took a hold of the shoulders and pulled it out in a quick snap.

The older woman at her side said, “Careful dear, this fabric is precious.”

“So how am I supposed to wear it?” Celeste asked flippantly, flicking her hair over her shoulder as she held up the dress. It looked less like wool now that she was holding it. Squinting, her eyes saw stars and galaxies and the whole of universes within the fabric. “Is this cashmere, Nana?” she asked, holding it up. It looks much prettier than in the box.

“It was made of a rare breed of sheep and mixed with Angora rabbit hair.” Her Nana stood there, “your Poppi brought me some of this yarn, from some far away place while he was in the army. It sat in my box of yarn for almost three decades before I decided to use it. He said something about the yarn, from the lady he bought it from. This yarn was only to be used for special occasions. And your graduation is a special occasion. It’s a beginning of a new life.”

Celeste carefully held up the dress you her chest. I felt surprisingly soft against her skin. “You just forgot about this yarn? Why?” she asked, looking at her Nana.

“Oh you know how much yarn I keep around and how much I buy,” her Nana laughed and fingered the edge of the dress. She looked at her granddaughter with a sad pride. “It was a wonder I ever found anything….” Nana laughed. “Poppi told me he wanted me to make something so beautiful to celebrate, that’s why he bought it.”

“What was it called, Nana? The yarn I mean.”

“Oh, I don’t rightly remember. Tessa something…” Nana stood behind Celeste, beaming. “I am so proud of you, My Dear. I never thought for once that I would have this…” gesturing to Celeste.

“Naaaaaaanaaaa, are you going to embarrass me,” Celeste mock whined.

“To whom, Dear,” as she gestured to the empty room, “No I mean it. When you’re Poppi and me were first married we planned to have a big family, eight children at least. But after five years I guess I gave up. You Poppi he was always sad after that…” Sighing, she pulled Celeste over to the floor length mirror. Caressing the fabric, she smiled at her granddaughter. 

“Why was he sad?”

“Oh, that’s a long story…” Her Nana sounding sad as she petted the dress that was pressed up against Celeste’s body,” I guess at the time he wanted as much as I did.”

“But you made Mom. Why would he be sad?”

“You know how things don’t turn out the way you plan. Well, Poppi’s feels that way about his life.”

“But, once you made Mom, I would think me would be happier?”

Her Nana smiled into the mirror, she looked so sad.

“Oh Nana! I’m sorry. Did I say something?” She looked into the mirror and caught her Nana’s gaze. Celeste couldn’t say a word, but she put her hand on her Nana’s shoulder and smiling said, “I love the dress.

“I’m glad. I do hope you wear it for graduation.”

“I will,” Celeste glanced at the dress. It was really very pretty. It was an A frame style dress bluish black with almost iridescent “stars” and sworls of purple and black swimming across the fabric. “I love it!” She smiled the fabric soft against her knees and hands. “I will wear it for graduation.”

“You’ll be the most beautiful graduate on that stage.” Nana stopped, turning away.


“Its nothing, I just was thinking.” Her Nana took a hold of the dress and Celeste pulled her shirt off to try the dress on.

“About what?”

“Your Mom. You know she never graduated high school.” Her Nana held the dress over Celeste’s head as she lifted her arms. 

“I didn’t know. She never really talks about her childhood much. I just assumed…”

“She had it rough. Even from the beginning...”

“How so?” Celeste asked, as suddenly she shrieked excitedly as the dress fell around her hips, it practically conformed to her body. Celeste removed her capris and looked into the mirror. “Oh Nana, I love it. I’m sorry if I sounded ungrateful earlier.”

“No you weren’t ungrateful, the fabric is meant to be worn and will only look appropriate when on the person it was made for. You are destined for the stars, My Dear.” Her Nana beamed.

“But didn’t my Mom deserve something this awesome too.” Celeste twirled in the mirror. The edges of the dress flared briefly and settle back down.

Her Nana was silent.

“Nana?” Celeste turned away from the mirror. She faced her Nana, “What’s the matter?” She saw her Nana tearing up, her deep blue eyes filling with tears.

“Oh, this is wrong!” her Nana said, turning slowly away.

“What is it Nana?”

“I have a secret, Celeste. Something I haven’t told anyone.”

“What is it, Nana?”

“Your mother?”

“My mother?”

“Your mother, she isn’t your mother. She is my daughter, a young lady your Poppi and I adopted after our fifth year of marriage. I was about thirty and we went to adopt. We found a little girl of about five, parents had died. She was traumatized. Wouldn’t even call us mom and dad 

“He never really loved her. I believe he tried, at least for me, but in the end they were never close and I think she resented that. She was rebellious and did everything against what your Poppi said and did for her. She ran away too many times to count. And only came home for money.

“Then one day everything change. Your ‘Mother’ was twenty five and I was fifty. I learned I was pregnant...

The words hung in the air. Celeste dropped her hands from her Nana’s shoulders. Looking at her Nana and then turning away, she saw herself in the mirror. Realization hit even before her Nana should say another words. In the mirror she saw that Her Nana looked so much like her, while her mother hardly looked like her. Her Nana had blue eyes wavy hair, while her ‘mother’ had black hair and straight. She realized that she never knew much about her mother. She hardly spent much time with her, but she always around her Nana.

As she stared in the mirror, the sworls seemed to stop, frozen in mid swirl; her hands ran across the dresses folds, soft and comforting. And then she looked up and saw her Nana put an arm around her shoulder, “Mom?” Celeste said the word carefully into the mirror.

Her Nana, blue eyes shining and her wavy white hair falling in ringlets around her face nodding.

“Yes, I am your Mother. My other daughter is your older sister and I think she was even more resentful when I ask her to pretend to be your ‘Mother’. And I never told you, because I was ashamed. But when you were ready to graduate and begin a new life I realized I couldn’t hold this back from you anymore. You are my daughter, and I was saving this fabric to give you a birthright to be worthy of.

Celeste wanted to cry, she felt the shudder in her chest as she choked on tears. “So, if you are my Mom, then that makes me a Delacoeur like you, not a Smythe like my Sister?” The words tasted funny as she said them, but they felt right so she smiled into the mirror at her Mother’s smiling face.

Yes, I want you to be Celeste Delacoeur after all this time.”



“No, Mom,” Celeste tasted the words on her tongue, “When I filed for my diploma, I already put Delacoeur on my diploma. I already thought of you are my mother, even if I didn’t know it yet.” Celeste took a hold of her Mother’s hand and squeezed it tight. “This is the best way to start a new life.” 

From andrebog on MorgueFile

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