April 2, 2013 by lucieromarin
Lydia (tall and chunky, with masses of rich, brown curls, and a slightly fearsome expression), Penelope (a shy, freckled red-head; the only secretary in a family of doctors), Amelia (also a brunette, but she wears her hair braided, because she has six brothers, who always used to pull her hair), and Eva, (blonde, bilingual, and desperate to be married. She has a mild crush on one of Amelia’s brothers.)
They’re shopping together, each seeking the perfect Easter dress, and are struggling with their options in their respective dressing-rooms.
A sound of exasperation is heard.
Lydia: It’s no good.
Voices: Can we see? Are you decent?
The curtains are gently pushed aside. Penelope and Eva peer inwards. Their eyes light up.
Eva: This is a good colour for you!
Penelope (in excitement!): It’s on the knee! It’s on the knee!
Lydia (in gloom): Only just. (She tugs at it, helplessly, hopelessly.) Look. It won’t be when I’m sitting down. (She sits down. Knees are visible. She continues to tug.)
Eva: Yes, surely you will be wearing stockings. Surely Father Preacher cannot mind this?
Lydia: But it’s the rule. The knees are supposed to be covered even when sitting down.
Eva looks worried. Her knees are often exposed.
Amelia (her voice heard from the next change room): Well, he’s never going to see it. He’s not even in the same country as us.
Lydia: Yeah, but he’s in my head. (Holds up finger and thumb two centimetres apart). There’s one of him this big sitting in the back of my head going, This is a salvation issue!!!!
Eva: Amelia, are you ready?
Amelia: No. I’m trying the second dress. The first one made me look old.
Lydia: What, like, twenty-five?
Amelia: No, really, really old – like, thirty or something. No offence.
Eva (as she and Penelope retire to their respective cubicles): You will never look thirty.
Amelia: I will if I wear old-lady dresses. No offence. I think I’m just going to wear jeans and tunic anyway, and people will just have to deal with it.
Lydia: Jeans at Easter?
Amelia: With a tunic! With a tunic! I do get the whole tunic-thing, you know.
Lydia: Yeah, but it’s not exactly festive. You could at least go for, like, a skirt and top or something.
Penelope: I was thinking of that, too. It’s just…
Lydia: I know. The profound bow during the the Office. I always wonder if I need to tug my shirt down.
Amelia: Well, I won’t be praying the Office.
Eva: I wish you would pray the Office. Didn’t you read Father’s letter about it?
A sound of mingled longing and despair is heard from Penelope’s dressing-room.
Penelope: It’s so close!
Lydia and Amelia: Can we see?
The three emerge from their dressing-rooms.
Penelope is glad in glorious array, except for the disappointment upon her face and the two fingers placed horizontally beneath her throat. Much skin is exposed beneath her fingers – the neckline is one-and-a-half fingers too deep.
Lydia: Gah! That’s so close to perfect! Can’t you get a camisole or something?
Penelope: I could try…
Lydia: For crying out loud – you have red hair! It’s even harder for you than the rest of us! I don’t think they teach them about colour in the seminary.
Amelia: Red-heads can wear dark green. And dark blue. They look better in those colours than anyone else.
Penelope: And I do love this shade…
Eva (firmly): You have to take what you can get!
Penelope: Why? Why? Why does it always end up this way?
Lydia grins wickedly, and holds two fingers vertically beneath her throat.
Lydia: You know, I’m pretty sure the rule means two fingers vertically, not two fingers horizontally.
Penelope makes another sound of anguish, and retreats behind her curtain.
Amelia: Actually, the rule’s changed.
The others: What? When?
Amelia: Father Director told me. It’s four fingers now, instead of two.
Eva: But Father Preacher has never said any such thing.
(She returns to her dresses.)
Lydia: And Father Director hasn’t said anything to me about it, either. Did you just argue him into it? You two have this weird thing.
Amelia, shrugging: Well, he said it to me, so that’s what I’m going with.
Penelope emerges, wearing a look of resolution.
Penelope: I’m going to buy it. I’ll just find a scarf for it or something… Maybe the scarf could double as a head-covering?
Lydia: Oh, you’d look regal!
Penelope (sadly): I’m too short to be regal.
Lydia: Well then, I guess you’ll look like a super-classy leprechaun.
Penelope: Are there girl-leprechauns?
Amelia: You could wear a big necklace or something. It wouldn’t cover everything, but it would be kind of distracting.
Penelope looks uncertain.
She appears before her friends. Her dress is perfect. Squealing ensues.
The girls: I can’t believe it! Sleeves! The neck! The length! It all fits! But it looks so good! I love the flare! I love the colour! Turn around – turn around – oooo…look how the skirt goes when you spin! It’s so perfect!
Lydia suddenly narrows her eyes.
Lydia: Is it made in China?
Eva looks utterly crestfallen.
Eva: Oh, Lydia, you know how hard that rule is. It’s impossible.
Amelia: Well, it’s not impossible. It’s just annoying.
Eva: Anyway, I spoke to another priest. He gave me an idea – you can just pray for the hands that made the clothes.
Lydia: Oh, sure. Because praying for the enslaved prisoner who made your dress absolves you of any culpability in his continued enslavement.
Eva: Oh, Lydia.
Lydia: Never mind – I’m just hassling you in exchange for always trying to make me read St Alphonsus.
Eva: St Alphonsus is wonderful! He is the best! You must read him! Father Preacher reads him! I will make you read him! Don’t you want Father Preacher to love you?
Lydia: Father Preacher also says you can’t buy anything made in China.
Eva: This is different. This is not the same.
Eva: Oh, Lydia, please be nice to me.
Lydia: Your dress is awesome. Don’t worry about it.
Amelia: Lydia, you’re so evil.
Lydia grins again.
Penelope: You haven’t found anything?
Lydia: Nup. Maybe I’ll have more luck after coffee.
Eva: Coffee! Yes! We must have coffee!
Lydia: Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about the milk rule.
Penelope and Amelia: What? Father Director lets you have milk?
Lydia: Hey, it’s swings and roundabouts. I get milk in my coffee, but so far I’ve got nothing to wear for Easter, and Penelope has the outfit that makes her look like the Titian Queen of Liturgical Glory. I don’t think any guys at Mass are going to notice me leaving the pew and say, “Oh, she has the radiant appearance of one who is allowed to drink milk!”
Eva: No one will ever love me. How can I make someone love me?
Penelope absorbs Lydia’s words. Her face lights up. It remains lit for the rest of the afternoon.