Wilde_BigSkirt_Postcard1.gifBig Skirt by Iris Wilde
First prize winner of the 4th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
I grew up under my mother’s skirt. Light filtered through climbing roses and morning glory. There was room for a child’s table and two chairs. When my friends came, we drank tea and ate finger sandwiches. Mom didn’t like cops and robbers. Too many bruises on her shins.
I had two brothers living in the east pannier. David was a scholar. He wore glasses and swore at me when I stayed up late. Micha was my favourite. He brought me chocolate croissants.
Micha and I almost got lost in the crinolines. We thought it was a maze. We found two old men in there. One had forgotten his destiny. The other was a lover; I could tell.
Mom liked to embroider. Better than tattoos, she said. Less permanent. Even before I was born, I heard every word she spoke.
I came into the world in a whirl of silk. The doctor, who was a small man, grinned. A healthy girl. The nurse brought my bath into the west pannier while my mother entertained guests. My father didn’t learn of my existence until I was four.
Once a year, Mom walked in the garden. Barefoot, I measured my steps carefully to keep pace with her. I couldn’t see the flower beds, but I imagined they were like her dress. She picked American beauties, yellow violets and white peonies and dropped them on the ground. These I collected, and her hoops filled with sweet scents.
When I was old enough to marry, my father found a willing suitor. I was tiny and pale and well versed in the domestic graces. The night before my wedding, Mom unwrapped the dress she’d embroidered for me. She shook the folds out around me: four bedrooms, three baths, a nanny suite and a secret staircase.