“When did they start doing that?” Enid asked.
“About three months ago. In fact, I keep a place here, too.”
“Do you really want to, dear?” Enid asked with tears in her eyes.
“More than just about anything, Aunt Enid. I can’t even imagine going back home after being here. This is where I belong. I feel free, as if all the rest of my life I was in some kind of prison. You know how I feel, I know you do! You must feel the same way every time you leave here.”
“I truly do. I never thought I’d find a single other person who felt the same way. I might have known it would be you. Well, everyone. It looks like we’re moving!”
The entire dining room cheered. Those with hats tossed them in the air. Those without whooped and clapped instead.
“Do you really want to stay?” Jasper asked quietly.
“I do. So much, I can’t even tell you. I love it here and I don’t ever want to leave. And I’m falling in love with you,” she added in a whisper. “I don’t want to be away from you.”
“Me too,” he murmured.
Their kiss invited more cheering, led by Aunt Enid. She laughed and clapped more than anyone.
“This calls for a celebration,” Janine announced. “Tonight’s barbecue will be in honor of Enid and Hana, newest additions to our family!”
“We should all dress up Western style,” Marnie suggested. “We can come as our favorite characters out of the Wild West.”
“What a great idea,” Janine said, clapping her hands.
“I’ll be Mae West,” Marnie said.
“Tom Mix for me,” Mr. Finch intoned with a grin.
“Annie Oakley,” his wife chimed in.
“I’m gonna be Geronimo,” Jimmy said. “I’ll wear a loin cloth.”
“Hmm, I think I’d like to be Miss Maisey, the schoolmarm,” Hana said. “Too bad I don’t have the dress.”
“I have the perfect thing,” Marnie told her. “You and I are close in size. It will look great on you.”
“Shall I come as Tack Mosley the Singing Cowboy who won Miss Maisey’s heart?”
“Oh, yes! And wear those sexy jeans,” Hana grinned.
“I hear a story there,” Marnie said.
“I’ll tell you all about it later,” Hana promised.
The rest of the afternoon was spent getting ready for the barbecue. Jasper was enlisted on the grill crew while Marnie volunteered to help everyone find a costume. She found the perfect outfit for Aunt Enid, complete with a hand crocheted shawl. Once her outfit was decided upon, she lay down to take a nap.
Marnie took Hana to her apartment, chatting happily. Once inside, she turned serious. “You two didn’t do anything naughty, did you?”
“I promise. I’m as chaste as I was when I left.”
“Whew! I was worried. Jasper’s a doll and all, but a girl has to be a little hard to get. Now, for the dress. Wait til you see! I got pictures of my great-great grandmother’s wedding dress and made a reproduction. The original is gorgeous, but the taffeta is too delicate to wear anymore. I even found fabric that’s almost identical. Here’s a picture.”
She showed Hana a picture of herself in a beautiful dress made of mauve taffeta with black stripes. The dress had leg of mutton sleeves and a tight bodice that came to a point in the front. It was cut on the bias so the diagonal stripes met in a chevron in the front and back. Across the shoulders, a small, pointed cape was attached. The skirt was long, full and sported a bustle. With her hat and parasol, she looked as if she had walked off the pages of history.
“That’s the actual dress. It’s a perfect fit for me. I spent a ton of money, and had it sealed in a shadowbox. It takes up one full wall of my tiny apartment. Now, for the dress I made!”
“Oh, my God! The color is almost identical! You did a fantastic job copying this! I can’t wear this. It’s too perfect. You should wear it.”
“I want you to, Hana. It would make me so happy. This is what I’m going to wear.”
The dress was a glitzy, slinky number identical to a dress Mae West wore in I’m No Angel. It was sheer, not quite see through, with lots of glitz and glitter strategically placed to provide camouflage. The long, full skirt had a built in train. The dress was a lovely shade of rose.
“The only pictures I could find were in black and white. There’s probably a description of the color somewhere in Hollywood archives, but this color nearly sang to me, when I saw it in the store.”
“Oh, the color looks so good on you! And the dress is gorgeous! It must weigh five pounds!”
“Six, but it’s worth every ounce.” She held the dress up to herself. “When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.” She sounded so much like Mae West, Hana had to laugh.
They laughed and talked as they did their makeup and hair. About an hour before dinner, Aunt Enid called so they went over with their costumes in garment bags and got her ready. Once she was in her costume, they put theirs on.
“I declare, you are such visions!” Aunt Enid sighed. “Don’t you look beautiful!”
“I feel so elegant,” Hana said. “I never wore a dress like this before.”
“I’m not sure how to move in this get up,” Marnie complained. “I didn’t think about that when I made it.”
© Dellani Oakes 2022