“I’m sorry, I know you’re about to close,” Julie began, “I promise to be quick. I need a wedding dress.”
The assistant composed her face, all traces of impatience were gone. “Of course,” she said, smoothing the legs of her camel colored wool pants. She tucked her hair behind an ear, “Now what are you looking for?”
“I don’t really know,” Julie said, “I can’t decide. Can you bring me five, no better make it three, of your best dresses. Really great ones. Just let me try them on and I’ll choose one.”
“Certainly,” the assistant said.
Julie stared in the mirror by the dressing rooms while she waited. The store was quiet and her mind was still reeling. What was she going to do? Really, was she going to buy her dress on her own, go to Nathan's and elope? Was she going to chicken out and go home to her parents?
Suddenly her cell phone rang, startling her. She quickly answered it, a reflex to not draw attention to herself. It was Nathan.
“So how was dress shopping?” he asked warmly. He sounded amused.
“About what you’d expect,” Julie said.
There was a pause.
“Nathan?” Julie said, “I have a crazy idea.” Her heart started pounding. “Let’s elope,” she blurted out.
“Yes!” Julie said, “My mother will drive me insane. One day of dress shopping and I’m already ready to pull my hair out. And this is just the dress. There’s still the cake, the food, the photographer, the venue…”
“Yeah, I get it,” he said, “But Julie, are you sure? I mean really? We can’t undo it.”
“I am. What do you think though? Would you mind?”
“Absolutely not, this all seems like a big head-ache. I don’t want to hurt your parents’ feelings though.”
Oh, why does he have to be such a good guy? Julie lamented in her mind.
“I’m getting a dress,” Julie said, feeling giddy, “Right now. I’m getting a dress. It’s what matters most to me about all the wedding stuff. I’ll pick one. I’ll be over. Let’s do this!”
“OK,” he said. Did he sound a little unsure?
Julie decided not to notice.
After she hung up the phone, the store clerk was standing there holding three dresses, mouth agape.
She had been listening to the conversation, but for how long?
She had an expression like a cat ready to pounce. “Here you go, Ms. DiCarlo,” she said.
Julie looked shocked. How did she know her name?
“You and your mother visited our sister store earlier today and they called to…let me know,” she said, “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and I put two and two together.”
Color rose in Julie’s face and it burned hot. Now what? Was this woman going to tell anybody? Did it matter? It had always seemed ridiculous when her mother said they had a position in the community. It was Chicago! They were anonymous! Now Julie wasn’t so sure. She thought of the thousands and thousands of dollars her mother was willing to spend on her wedding. It would matter.
“Excuse me,” Julie said, and she fled the store.