Julie raised an impish face with ‘wise owl’ eyes to newlyweds, Dianne and Hugh Levitt. She wished she could be as happy as they were. She felt something, but it was not happy. She stared down at the ground, making an effort not to drag her feet along the macadam road which stretched past dairy and livestock farms. In the midst of this pastoral setting sat a nifty Cape Cod styled house the Levitt’s would soon call home. They swung their hands in unison, strolling to a lawn reception to be held at the home of Dianne’s gal pal, Abigail Dawes.
Tears stung Julie’s eyes. Things seemed pretty cool right now. She was ten years old, growing up fast, but not fast enough. Dianne and Hugh were in the process of adopting her. But nothing good ever lasted.
The threesome made a right angle turn and went down a rutted dirt road past a huge wood pile in a clearing which narrowed to a drive bordered by hedges. As they drew near to a freshly painted white farmhouse with green trim, Julie released each pulsating hand and skipped ahead through a grassy triangle cut out by the sun beneath tall poplars.
Abigail was leaning over an elaborately set long white table, fussing with a centerpiece of white camellias, white roses and delicate baby’s breath. She turned at the sounds behind her and looked up. “The guests of honor have arrived,” she announced.
Julie slid her hands down the lush material of her pale pink lace dress, pleased that it was a girlie garment with elegant bows front and back on her tiny waist. Hand-tooled, silver barrettes held her side swept auburn hair in place. The grown-up style made her look older; at least twelve.
“You’re a knock-out,” Abigail gushed. “That is a stunning dress. I meant to tell you how much I liked it at the ceremony.” She had a wide smile and her cheeks were flushed. “Would you help me serve these? I don’t have enough hands and many of the guests have arrived. I know you would rather be doing something than standing around looking beautiful.”
Julie accepted a platter of canapés and sampled three. “They taste good. I’m hungry.”
“Save some for the guests,” Abigail called after her.
Julie headed in Dianne’s direction. The bride was talking with her father, John Hobarth. She listened as Mr. Hobarth congratulated his daughter, “Dianne, you look ravishing. You deserve to be happy with a remarkable husband and a charming daughter.”
“I feel blessed.” Dianne beamed as Julie drew near with the tempting tray.
“Have one of these little sandwiches, Dianne,” Julie pressed. “The peanut butter and jelly ones taste best.”
“Um, they all look delicious, honey; just one – the one with a cucumber on top.”
A black limousine with a Massachusetts license plate drove into the yard and stopped. Julie watched Yvonne Baleaux step out of the back seat of the vehicle while two silver-haired, jeweled ladies climbed out of the front of the car. They each carried gifts. Abigail greeted them with smiling assurance and guided them to a table set up for the purpose of displaying the gifts. A circle of white crepe paper bells danced overhead.
Yvonne made a bee line to Hugh. Julie crept up behind Yvonne and Hugh and spied on them.
“Wow, super day,” Yvonne said breathlessly, shaking out her luxuriant red hair with blond highlights. Hugh leaned his cheek down to her. With her slender, musk scented hands she turned his face sharply and kissed him full on the lips. “Congratulations bridegroom. I hope you’ll be happy with the little woman.” Pouting, she looked across the sweep of lawn at Dianne mingling with guests.
“I’ll be reasonably happy,” Hugh drawled. “I knew from the moment I met Dianne I loved her.”
Yvonne’s laugh was contemptuous. “You’re not a romantic, Hugh. Love…you! A forty-one year old kiddie counselor, hitching up with an old-maid social worker? You were more exciting when you were an ad executive!”
Hugh’s eyes narrowed. “What pointed nails you have, Yvonne. Why don’t you make an appointment to see me at my office? I have just the therapy to help you function socially.”
Julie nudged Hugh and offered him canapés from her tray. He placed several on a napkin and winked at her. She turned deliberately away from Ms. Baleaux and proceeded on her way.
“And, you have a brat in the package!” Yvonne snapped her elegant fingers in the air. “Now, about that offer, Doctor, if you are considering couch therapy …”
The guests were called together at one o’clock to feast on a sumptuous luncheon. Mid-way through the gala, Julie left her barely touched plate and walked over to a table situated adjacent to the main one, to view the beautifully decorated, two-tiered wedding cake. She stared for a long time at the miniature bride and groom ornamenting the top of the cake. She suddenly ached for the dysfunctional mother whom she would never see again, and, at the same time, a rush of abusive memories threatened to paralyze her.
Out of the blue, Dianne appeared and handed Julie a napkin. “Here, you’ll want to wipe the kool-aid ring above your lips.”
Julie rubbed the paper napkin over her mouth and crumpled it into a ball.
“Come with me,” Diane smiled down at her.
Julie followed the vision in the rustling, white taffeta dress across the lawn, away from the celebration. They stopped beneath the network of paper wedding bells where splendid arrays of white, silver and gold packages were spread out on the table.
“It’s too early to open gifts,” Dianne explained. “We must wait for the proper time but I want you to open this one.” She picked up a small package wrapped in glossy white paper and handed it to Julie.
“Go ahead, open it.”
Steadily, Julie looked up at Dianne. She dropped the napkin on the grass and ripped the paper off the box, removing its cover. Inside a folded tissue lay a gold charm bracelet with a triangle charm fastened to it. She held the dainty piece up in order to read the inscription appearing on each flat surface of the charm. It bore the names of Hugh, Dianne and Julie. A tiny silver cross dangled in the middle with the name Levitt and the wedding date inscribed on it. She extended her thin arm out to the flushed bride. “Put it on my wrist!”
“Please,” Dianne coaxed.
Julie rolled her eyes impatiently. “Please.”
Dianne secured the hasp. An intense, warm feeling came over Julie and she burrowed her face into a pleasantly-scented bosom. In the next moment, Hugh’s strong arms encircled them both. At that moment, Julie knew in her heart contentment would grow.