Sarah clutched her bridesmaid dress as Barbara hung up her wedding gown. She knew that she couldn’t hold onto it for the rest of the day. She’d have to surrender the dress at some point so it wouldn’t get dirty.
But the dress was so pretty. She hugged it a little tighter and kissed the plastic garment bag.
Such a pretty dress. She didn’t want to let it go.
Barbara turned around. “Okay! Let’s hang up your dress too.”
Sarah’s flame tentacles sprouted out of her back.
Barbara raised her hands in defense. “I’m not going to steal it from you. It isn’t even my size. I just want to put it away for now. Okay?”
The young girl hesitated.
“I’ll give it back to you tonight. I promise.”
The tentacles retreated and disappeared. Sarah handed the dress over.
“Thank you.” Barbara hung it next to her dress.
Sarah gave the garment bag an affectionate tug before backing away from the closet.
Barbara closed the door. “Okay! What else do I need to do before tonight? What else? What else?”
As Barbara muttered to herself, Sarah did some thinking of her own. She pulled a few strands of her dirty blonde hair forward and sniffed the ends. She wrinkled her nose at the stale ash smell.
She tapped the young woman’s arm.
“Hmm? What is it?”
Sarah pointed at herself and scrubbed her hands into her hair. She rubbed her arms down to her hands and scrubbed her hair again.
“Umm. Oh! You want to take a bath?”
Sarah nodded emphatically.
“Okay, come with me.”
She pointed at Barbara, tapped her eyes, and jabbed a point at her own chest.
“You’re asking me…What?”
Sarah made an exasperated gesture.
“What? I don’t understand.”
Sarah quietly thought over the different ways for her to sign what she wanted to say. She clapped her hands as she came up with a good way to say it. She pointed at herself and scrubbed her hair. She pointed at Barbara, tapped her eyes again, and went back to scrubbing her hair. She frowned and drew a big fiery X in between them.
“Okay. I get that you don’t want me to do something.”
Sarah nodded and repeated the whole set of gestures.
“You. Scrubbing hair. Washing hair. You want to take a bath.”
Sarah nodded and repeated Barbara’s half.
“You want to take a bath. Me. Watch? Watching?”
Another strong nod and repeat.
“Me. Watch. Watching.”
Sarah drew another big, fiery X.
“No? No watching? You don’t want me to watch you take a bath?”
Sarah grinned and clapped her hands.
“Okay, no worries there. I think I can trust you to not scald or drown yourself. Can’t I?”
Sarah rolled her eyes.
Barbara giggled. “I guess that means yes. Come on. I’ll lead you to the bathroom.”
Barbara led the young girl to the bathroom and gave her instructions on how to not burn or freeze herself in the shower. Her instructions merited another eye roll.
Barbara smiled and left the room. She closed the door and leaned back against it.
Ambrose, it’s tonight. It’s going to happen tonight. We’ll say our vows, become husband and wife. Then, I’ll be able to touch you again. I’ve missed it so much.
I miss you so much.
I miss all of those small things we did every night. So many small touches.
We’ll be able to do it again, starting tonight.
Ambrose, I need to hear your voice. I need to talk to you. I.
She reached into her pocket. “He’s sleeping. I really shouldn’t bother him.” But she smiled.
And she dialed his number.
She put her phone to her ear and listened to it ring.