Abby cradled the old bronze picture frame in her hands, contemplating the photo it held. Her fingers ran absently along the filigree, darkened with patina for as long as she could remember, in the same way her mother’s did when she held the same frame.
She never had the chance to meet the woman in the photo, but she had heard so many stories about her while growing up that Abby felt like she had known her all her life.
Even though the black and white photo was faded and had multiple cracks running through it, the woman’s sharp features and brilliant smile could still be seen clearly. Abby’s great grandmother, for whom she had been named, resplendent in her silk and lace ball gown style wedding dress. The long veil pinned in her light hair trailed over her shoulders and disappeared behind her back, though a glimpse of it could be seen on the ground behind her feet.
That photo was one of the very few of her great grandmother’s earlier life that had survived the test of time.
She looked so happy, and Abby felt bad for the girl in the picture who had no idea what difficulties lie ahead of her. Given all that her own mother had told her, it only made the woman more impressive though.
Less than a year after their wedding, when Gigi had just found out she was pregnant, her husband had died in an accident, leaving her to raise their daughter alone. Then, before that daughter, Abby’s grandmother, had even finished high school she had gotten pregnant.
Abby didn’t know many details about what happened after that, since her mom didn’t like to talk about it, but from what she gathered her grandmother stuck around long enough to finish high school before taking off to who knows where before her own child’s first birthday.
After that it was once again on Gigi to raise a child on her own. And she did one hell of a job, if Abby had any say in the matter. In her unbiased opinion, her mom was the best person she had ever met, and Gigi was the only parent she had ever really known. The two had stayed close up to the day Gigi had died of a stroke a little under a year before Abby herself had been born.
Shaking off those thoughts, Abby
With a furtive glance over her shoulder, Abby turned the frame over and carefully started fiddling with the clasps there until she could remove the backing board. She set it aside on the small wooden side table that was tucked close beside a worn blue rocking chair.
She was surprised to find there was something written in a delicate curling script on the back of the yellowing picture, the words ‘Wedding of David and Abigail Allen, 1953’, likely written by the woman herself. Abby paused for a moment to admire the penmanship, her eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
Just then, a clattering from the other room made her jump and almost drop both the picture and its frame, but she managed to keep a hold of both with minimal fumbling. Heart in her throat, Abby called, “You okay?”
“Yes! Sorry for scaring hun, I just dropped the pan I was washing!” Her mother, Lindsey, yelled back.
Abby snorted softly, considering how she had nearly dropped the things she was holding herself. There had never been any doubt that she came by her clumsiness honestly. “S’alright mom! How’s that tea coming along?”
“Just a few more minutes, the water is just about to boil.”
That new knowledge lent a sense of urgency to Abby’s ‘mission’, and she set the frame beside its backing board before putting the photo down a bit further from them. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket and opened the camera app, using it to take several shots of the front and back of the delicate photo.
Job done and heart starting to pound in her ears with every moment that passed, Abby put her phone away and started reassembling the frame.
She wasn’t doing anything wrong, per se, but for her plans it was best she not get caught regardless. The frame was returned to its usual place on the fireplace mantle just in time, as her mother walked into the room carrying a small tray with two steaming mugs on it just as Abby was stepping back from it.
The older woman paused in the doorway, one eyebrow arched in an expression Abby had seen many times throughout her life. “Looking at Gigi’s picture again, Abs? I’ve never seen you so interested in it before.” There was a teasing curl to her tone. Abby ducked her head and tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear, a small shy smile on her face.
“I guess you could say I’ve been finding weddings a lot more compelling, recently.” She admitted.
Lindsey joined her daughter in front of the mantle, her brown eyes dancing as she handed over one of the mugs. “I can’t imagine why.” She joked, shooting a pointed glance to Abby’s right hand which was now curled around the mug.
Abby grinned back at her, flushing slightly. She couldn’t help but to look at her hand too, and the diamond engagement ring that caught the firelight and glinted merrily. “I still can’t believe I’m actually getting married.” She admitted.
Her mother cupped her cheek, her expression complicated. “I can’t, either. Wasn’t I just changing your diapers only a week ago? Where has time gone? When did my baby girl grow up?”
Placing her own hand over her mother’s, Abby nuzzled into the warm touch a bit. “I’ll always be your baby girl, mama.”
“I know you will, honey.” Lindsey said softly, her lips trembling slightly.
Seeing that, Abby laughed lightly and let her hand drop. “Are you gonna cry again? I thought you got all your tears out last week when Justin proposed at my birthday party. I’m pretty sure you cried more than I did.”
With one last caress to the apple of her cheek, Lindsey took back her own hand too, sniffling slightly. “I know, I know. But can you really blame your poor old mother? It took you two so long that I was sure he would never propose.”
Abby rolled her eyes. “Stop saying that. 52 is not old, mom.” She huffed indignantly.
“Wait until you’re my age, then tell me that you don’t feel old, sweetheart.” Lindsey told her with false seriousness. She led the way over to the couch and both of them sat down. “Now, have the two of you decided on a date yet?”
Relaxing into the plush gray cushions, Abby took a slow sip of her cooling tea before answering. “Not a specific date yet, no. But we were thinking of having it some time in early fall.”
The two fell into easy conversation, and the hours slipped by.
The next weekend found Abby visiting various hobby shops, phone in hand for reference as she compared fabrics. She found the silk she needed at the first store, which even had a great sale going for it.
It was the lace that she was having trouble with. While the pattern of it didn’t have to be an exact match, she couldn’t find one that was even close enough for her tastes.
Abby was at the fourth store and about ready to give up and find what she needed online when the kindly old woman who owned the small hobby store asked her what she needed. When Abby explained what she was doing and showed the woman the picture on her phone though, the woman’s blue eyes lit up with recognition. “I think I have just what you need, dear!” She exclaimed, leading Abby to one of the shelves.
After barely a minute of digging around and moving other bolts of fabric out of the way, she emerged triumphantly with one that had been hidden at the very back. “Lace isn’t as popular as it used to be, so there’s not much demand for this fella.” She told Abby with a sigh before holding out the bolt of lace for the younger woman. “Think this will do?”
“Oh!” Abby gasped, unraveling it a bit so that she could get a clearer look at the lace. “It’s perfect.”
It was, too. The pattern of flowers on the delicate webbing was nearly identical to the photo, a more perfect match than Abby had dared to dream.
The old woman smiled proudly and led the way over to the cutting table, then to the cash register. When the total of her purchase was displayed on the register, Abby shot the woman a look. “I don’t think you rang it up correctly. That’s way too cheap for that much lace.” She pointed out, but the woman waved off her concerns.
“Are you doubting me young lady? I am the owner, and everything in this shop is the price I say it is.” She replied with a playful huff.
Even so, Abby hesitated. “Are you sure? I mean, at that price you can’t be making much profit off of it.”
Again the woman dismissed her words. “I told you before that lace wasn’t popular anymore, so really you’re doing me a favor by taking it off my hands. Now will that be cash or card?” She asked, tone implacable.
Defeated, Abby paid for the lace in cash with good humor.
Dusk was starting to set in when Justin got home. He kicked off his shoes in the foyer, calling out a greeting and getting a distant reply.
It only took him a moment to hunt his fiancee down, not surprised to find her in the room that served half as her crafts room and half as his gaming room. “Hey babe, how’s it going?” He asked, coming up behind her and dropping a kiss on the top of her head. He brushed the wayward strands of her blonde hair back into some semblance of order. Something must be stressing her out, Abby had a tendency of running her hands through her hair when stressed.
With a groan, Abby gestured helplessly at the papers pinned to her drafting table. “I’m having trouble figuring out how exactly to do the bodice. It’s not like anything I’ve had to do before.”
“I wish I could help you, sweetling.” Justin said apologetically before kissing the top of her head again. “But I’m sure you’ll figure it out. If not on your own, then surely your sewing club could help you. I’m pretty sure some of those lovely ladies are old enough to have worn dresses just like that at their first weddings.”
Abby lashed out playfully with an elbow, nudging his side. “Hey, you be nice. Those ladies are blue haired angels. Also I’m pretty sure at least a couple of them know how to hide a man’s body in ways that won’t ever be discovered.”
With his hands up and open, Justin backed away laughing. “Alright, I get it. I’ll be nice to the biddies and you won’t follow their example and push me off a cliff or something.”
“Please, babe? Pushing you off a cliff? Do you think I would do something like that?” With a snooty sniff, Abby turned back to her work. “I can do much better than that. Your body would be discovered in less than a day and, as your wife, I would be the first suspect.” She continued over her shoulder.
Justin was still snickering when he draped his arms over her shoulder for a quick hug. “That’s my future wife! You’re much too smart to get caught like that. So I was thinking pizza for dinner? As long as you don’t poison my slices, anyway.”
Abby tilted her head back against his chest until she could look at him with brown eyes filled with faux innocence. “Poison? J, we’re not even married yet. What would I get out of poisoning you now? But yeah, pizza sounds good.”
He pressed a kiss to the tip of her nose, which made it wrinkle cutely. “One pizza for my lovely future murderer coming up!”
Abby hadn’t made any progress with the bodice, and on Wednesday afternoon she showed up at the local library with everything she had thus far tucked into her rolling tote with her sewing machine.
When she got to the room the library let the sewing club use, there were already a few women there setting up their own machines and chatting about their weeks. They all greeted her cheerfully when she arrived, and Abby greeted them back on her way to her usual ‘spot’ at one of the tables.
Not long after her, three women in their mid to late 70’s walked in, talking amongst themselves and cackling. They quieted when they entered the room though, and as one their eyes zeroed in on Abby. “Well if it isn’t the future Mrs. Big Shot Lawyer!” One of them called from across the room before they made a beeline for her.
Abby laughed, getting up to help the women set up their machines too. “I am already the current Ms. Big Shot Lawyer, thank you very much. How are you guys? Get into any trouble this week? Maggie, I heard you got pulled over again.”
One of the women, Maggie, snorted as she finished getting set up and sat down. “I have no idea what that young man’s problem was. I was barely going over the speed limit. Right, Martha? You were there with me, tell Abigail how silly it was.”
“Going 55 in a 35 isn’t ‘barely’ over the limit, dear, but I can understand why you got confused in your old age.” Martha said, patting Maggie’s withered hand with her own. “I don’t know why you keep only getting warnings with the way you drive. They need to take your license.”
“Twenty miles over the speed limit? Forget taking her license, that old cow needs to be thrown in the slammer!” The third woman, Tess chimed in.
All three broke into more cackling, and Abby just shook her head and retook her seat.
Shortly afterward their self elected ‘club leader’, a 30-something year old woman named Heather called the club to order. “Alright, ladies! … And Kevin. Before we get to work, does anyone have any questions or need help?”
Abby shot to her feet. “I do! I need help patterning the bodice of my wedding dress.” Heather gestured for Abby to join her at the white board at the front of the room.
The other members of the club all cooed in excitement as she pinned what she had, including a printed picture of her great grandmother’s dress, onto the board with magnets.
Within a half hour, the combined efforts and knowledge of all of the women and Kevin produced a workable solution to the issue she was having with the complicated folds around the sweetheart neckline, and Abby set to work on it with new zeal.
A little over a year later, it was a lovely fall day and Lindsey was at the outdoor venue working with the wedding decorator as they put the final touches on the decor.
She was distracted, glancing at the out building that Abby was using as her dressing room. Mother of the bride and Matron of Honor, but for some reason she hadn’t been allowed entry into the dressing room.
In fact, she hadn’t been allowed to see Abby’s wedding dress at all yet, which disappointed her. From the time her daughter had been born, Lindsey had been looking forward to helping Abby shop for her dress, but instead she had been shut out of the process entirely with very little explanation.
Feeling a little melancholy, Lindsey didn’t notice the photographer calling for her at first. When she did, she made her way over to where he stood by the ‘dressing room’ frowning. There was less than an hour before the start of the wedding, and according to the schedule she had been given he should be getting ready to set up his camera things at the front of the aisle.
Instead, much to her confusion he informed her that Abby asked him to take a few pictures of her mother. Alone.
The man steamrolled over any protests she had with sheer professionalism and before she knew it, he was guiding her around the side of the building. She didn’t even think to question why he guided her to stand a little ways away from the building and had her stand with her back to the camera.
She could hear him take a few pictures like that over the next few minutes, and she was starting to get impatient when she heard a soft, dear voice say from behind her, “Mom.”
Lindsey spun around, and the second she laid eyes on her baby girl her hands flew up to her mouth to stifle her gasp. It was a good thing she was wearing waterproof make-up, because the tears followed soon after. “Oh, honey!” She choked out through her fingers, and Abby gave her a tremulous smile and held out her arms.
“What do you think? I- uh… I wanted to honor Gigi, since she couldn’t be here today.”
Lindsey just sobbed harder and pulled her daughter in for a crushing hug. “You are the most beautiful bride I have ever seen, and I am so so so proud of you.” She blubbered.
From the way Abby’s shoulders were shaking, she could tell she wasn’t the only one crying. “I love you mom.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”