Wedding dress


He sews dresses from Aridian silk, as white as snow, as delicate as butterfly wings, and decorates them with lace made of pure moonlight. He’s a wizard, not a tailor… That’s what legends say. Those legends are centuries old but it’s the reality that keeps them true: the tailor’s workshop is still there, the sign above its door never changes, the master’s surname stays the same. As to the first names, they do change with time but it doesn’t matter much. What does matter is that the miracles keep happening.

By his house’s porch, wild mallows grow, their heavy flowers red and pink, yellow and white. Little girls love them. Each flower, when turned inside out, resembles a little doll with fluffy hair and a gorgeous dress, ready to attend an imaginary wedding or an imaginary ball.

Bees and bumblebees are always humming around the mallows. Each flower is so full of pollen and nectar there is no real need to look for them anywhere else. All the tiny workers need is just to dive into a mallow flower where all the treats are. They set off to their hives so heavily laden with sweet gifts that they have a hard time staying above the ground.

On the ancient sign above the door, shiny scissors open their maw, as long and narrow as a caiman’s, threatening to snap a golden string in two. The legendary tailor’s sign, promising you the best dress ever…

A dress. That was exactly what Amy came here for. A week ago, her mother had given the master tailor a roll of beautiful Aridian silk as white as snow on mountain peaks and ordered a dress for Amy. Today, he sent a messenger to invite Amy to his workshop to make measurements for her future dress.

To Amy, the whole matter seemed fishy. Why did the tailor, however legendary, had to wait for a week? Why did her mother suddenly find a thousand reasons not to accompany her that day? Why did the rest of the family keep whispering behind Amy’s back and giving her mysterious looks?

A seasoned adventurer, Amy was used to suspecting trouble everywhere. Old habits die hard, even when you’re back at your cosy little hometown where evil things never happen, the sun shines so brightly, and the mallows smell so sweet.

The legendary tailor, Dayne Ree Junior, met his gloomy visitor with a smile. For some reason - maybe to try to cheer Amy up - he decided to set the measurements aside for a while and offered her tea instead. Despite his great fame, Dayne was very young; his merry, boyish voice echoed and danced in the silence of the huge house.

“There is no hurry,” he waved his hand. “Would you, a great warrior, join me for a cup of tea, a pie, and a chat?”
“A chat?” Amy couldn’t hold a chuckle.
“Exactly!” the young master nodded vigorously.
“Okay then.”

“So, what would you like to talk about?” asked Amy, watching Dayne, as busy as a bumblebee, set a table in his spacious kitchen.
“Oh!” he nearly dropped the kettle. “I’m a simple homebody, you know. There is nothing I like more than listening about adventures, monsters, and distant lands! Can you tell me a story?” He sad across the table from Amy and added with a disarming smile, “Pretty please?”

Dayne’s words warmed Amy’s heart. He asked her about her adventures! The question was pure music to her ears after a whole month of endless talk about wedding dresses, wedding decorations, rumours, food, and raising kids! Amy’s life as an adventurer wasn’t all shine and bunnies, of course, but now, cleaned by time, the memories of it were as beautiful as any old legend.

“I was born in this town,” Amy began her story. Dayne watched her with wide eyes, the tea and the pie all forgotten. “My parents owned a little inn on the shore where we saw all kinds of travelling folk. Oh, the stories they told! No wonder I ran away from home when I had barely turned fifteen and sailed to Ilsenoy where all adventurers go.

“I dreamed of great deeds but didn’t think of a reason why would anyone need a teen girl in their team, even if she knows how to wield a sword. Many stupid kids like me couldn’t find their way out of Ilsenoy and had to turn to crime instead or just went missing forever. But I was lucky. A warrior woman noticed me; she said I reminded her of herself when she was young. She took me under her wing and taught me everything I know. I travelled with her around the world. I fought on her side against the dark armies among the dunes of Arid. I joined her for a reckless treasure hunt in the icy mountains of the North. When she decided to turn to piracy, I was there with her as well. And when we both were sold into slavery, I fought alongside her on the bloody arena. We won our freedom together and parted only when she decided to retire.
“I travelled solo for a while then. I hunted vetalas, mad with all the human blood they drank and spoke with dragons who asked me to help them solve their old quarrel about the very last islet of the Cheerless Acrhipelago...
“And then, I found my love, the blue-eyed warrior of the North. We travelled and fought together until we understood that we could be vagabonds no longer; that we had to become a family and settle down; that what we needed were children and not more battle trophies; that love and freedom are not enough for us to be happy anymore. So we came here, to the town where I was born…”

Amy was silent for a long time, slowly stirring her tea with a silver spoon. Dayne didn’t say a word to hurry her up and just watched the beautiful light, awakened by her memories, transform her face, wash all the grim sadness away, and make her cheeks rosy again.

Only when his tea had got cold, he dared to ask, “Amy, you are about to marry the love of your life. Why are you so sad then?”

“You see,” the light went away from the young woman’s eyes again,” I don’t know myself. I feel trapped. I feel like my life is about to end; like there is nothing worthy of looking forward to after the wedding; like I’m about to make a huge mistake. But there is no way back now…
“What lies ahead? I see nothing but mundane tasks repeating day after day, my aunts' rumours and chatter, and thousands of dull, grey days without light. You know,” she gave him a tired smile, “even fairy tales end with a wedding. Maybe it’s because there is nothing worthy of telling about after it.”
“I see…” the master scratched his head, thinking. “Well, let me tell you a very different fairy tale then. The one that begins with a wedding.”
“Okay, I’m all ears. I’ve never heard a fairy tale of that kind,” agreed Amy, clearly curious now. She leaned back in her chair and took a bite of the pie.
“It will all happen like this…” Dayne stood up and spread his hands in a wide gesture like a magician giving a show on a market square. “On your wedding day, your husband will see you in a white wedding dress for the first time. He saw you thousands of times but never like this. He saw you in harsh sailor clothes, in Aridian desert cloak that left only your eyes uncovered, in wolf furs, several layers of them sewn together to keep the biting cold of the North away… He saw you in battle, masterfully wielding your sword and dagger. He saw you in endless journeys with a heavy backpack on your shoulders. He saw you in the crow’s nest looking for the land ahead… But he never saw you in a white dress made of the purest Aridian silk, with a bouquet of mallows in your hands. When he sees you like this, his dreary thoughts, the same that are troubling you know, will be washed away.
“During the ceremony, you won’t hear and remember the priest’s words, the guests’ chatter, the noise of the crowd. ‘Yes, I do’ said by both of you will be all that matters.
“When all will dance, you will soar above the earth like only dragons can.
“You will spend your wedding night on a ship taking you to your wedding journey. That journey will be unlike any other you had before. There will be no battles, no worries, no riddles, only you two, the newlyweds. You did dream of such a journey during your travels, didn’t you? Take it as the most desired prize, as a reward won in a fair battle, as the happiness you deserve.
“After the journey, you will return to the house that will be your fortress against everything you hate. You will be the woman and the man of that house and no one will dare tell you how to live your life. You will have as much of that traditional stuff in your household as you decide.
“Above the fireplace, you will hang your weapons and no one will stop you from taking them again to spar whenever you want.
“Time will come when you will tell your husband that you are with a child. You will carry the child as the greatest treasure and your husband will protect you both. You will try to guess whom the Sky decided to send you: a son or a daughter, a warrior or a mage, a poet or a musician? You will try but won’t guess anyway because the gift of the Sky will surpass all your dreams…”

“You haven’t finished your fairy tale, master Dayne,” Amy whispered after a while. Enchanted by the story, she could barely move.
“It has no end,” he said with a smile.

Amy left the house of Dayne Ree Junior with a heavy heart filled to the brim with feelings she could not understand. The childish awe awakened by his fairytale faded soon in the face of her life experience, her memories, her depressed mood. No wonder Amy had abandoned all hope long before she reached her home. She didn’t tell the fairytale to her husband and forgot it soon.

The day Amy saw her dress, something stirred in her memory and made a weak smile appear on her face.

“It’s just a fairytale,” she thought, gently stroking the finest Aridian silk embroidered with the famous moonlight silver...

Here they are, walking the aisle together: the mighty blue-eyed northerner and his beautiful bride. Fiddles and trumpets play around them, men chatter, women cry…

Looking back at her past, Amy recalled Dayne’s fairytale again, as delicate in her memory as a mallow doll dress. The music fell silent - it happens sometimes when some thought distracts you - but didn’t return.

Amy and her beloved stood in the middle of the hall wrapped in magical silence, alone in the crowd of musicians, priests, and guests, all frozen in time. Just like all the sounds were replaced by wonderful silence, all the screaming colours were replaced by blue and silver as if the hall were underwater.

The newlyweds looked at each other.

“Yes, I do.”
“Yes, I do.”

...they said and joined their lips in a long kiss.

There was nothing more the young husband and wife needed in the hall; laughing, they ran outside where all the world stood still for them alone.

A fast shadow touched the cobblestones of the road; the newlyweds gasped as they raised their eyes to the sky: an azure dragon was descending to the square where they stood. Mesmerised, they watched the majestic ancient creature land, approach them in just three powerful steps, and spread its wing toward them in an inviting gesture.

“ will soar above the earth like only dragons can…”

For a long time, people of Amy’s hometown kept talking about the gorgeous wedding that had honoured all the traditions properly and left no one aside, about the beautiful newlywed couple, about the richly decorated hall, the best musicians, the delicious food, the stupid things some drunken guests did… No one saw any dragons, ships, or anything suspicious at all. The miracle Amy and her husband had witnessed, was a very personal one, the kind of miracle you can only witness yourself but never tell anyone about. They found no words for it even when they visited Dayne Ree Junior to thank him for the dress. He must’ve known anyway, though…

“It was a beautiful wedding, wasn’t it?” said Amy’s mother as she was carefully folding the dress to put it into her daughter’s clothes chest.
“Yes, mother,” the daughter nodded, a slight smile on her lips.
“Yes… as beautiful as mine was. Like my mother had always said: the dress is what makes the wedding special but only if the legendary tailor sews it.” That said, she gave an understanding wink to surprised Amy.

(June 29, 2010)

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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.