It was a night of celebration at our favorite dive bar, The Winchester, when Kay brought me to see her new home. We toasted whisky after whisky to her new love and her new home. The sparkly diamond ring on her finger was reflected by the excitement in her eyes. How we laughed at this fortune, at the adventure of it, seeing only good and graciousness in her future. Inevitably, bar clock hands pointed us to the way home, to that new palace by the beach that was to be her exciting new beginning.
Laughing, we poured through the threshold of the beautiful two story bungalow. Furniture was in place and pictures hung, but they were not items I knew, they were her fiancé's life, and she had yet to settle in. “The closet space sucks,” she explained. “This one is mine, it’s already so crowded and I haven’t even moved all my things in yet,” she said. She waved her arm like a magician as she flung open the closet. And there she hung. A wedding dress of a bride past. She looked at me waiting for a response. My jaw hung slack. My mind blanked. “Oh, you’ve been busy,” I said, my soggy brain slowly certain that she had not been dress shopping. “Hm,” she said. “Your hilarious, I think we both know that isn’t mine.” The house seemed echoey, colder.
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I glanced at her, there was no trace of her laughter, her shoulders drooped forward, her sweet lips pursed as if she were solving math problems. "You sit down, I’ll get the whisky,” I said. And that’s where we were, for eons it seemed, sitting on the couch that faced the closet, the room felt staged for that exact moment in time, passing the bottle slowly between us, our faces mulling the “dress issue” over and our eyes never flinching, just holding sweet time, with the other woman’s wedding dress.
“Doesn’t she want it back?” Kay shook her head.
“Looks like we have a trip to the Goodwill tomorrow.”
Kay grabbed the bottle, “He says it cost too much to just give it away,” and she took a long hard pull.
Suddenly she got up and, after carefully making sure the edges of the cream taffeta were tucked in, she closed the door.
We erupted in spontaneous laughter: Hard, gut-wrenching laughter. We laughed at the horror of it, the complications of it, and of the fact that the closet in which “the dress” hung was her closet and the smaller of the two closets. The somberness evaporated and music replaced the icy silence, and with the gaiety of two best friends, we danced. Hours clicked, and stories changed, but it wasn’t until the moment in which the bottle leaned its head, exhausted and spent, on the coffee table that Kay said, “You wanna put it on?” It was the best horrible idea, I had to say, “Yes!”