What about you?

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Kate gazed at her reflection, ‘done up like a dog’s dinner’ was how her old gran would have described her, the bridesmaids dress was what Tilly her best friend would also term a meringue. Salmon pink cap sleeves decorated a fitted salmon pink bodice that dipped a little too low on her ample cleavage, and the same colour full hooped skirt topped off the ensemble, all in a shiny satin sheen. She felt if not looked like the salmon gateau the farm cats were fed on their birthday. Not that her parents remembered each of the seventeen cats actual birthday, they had a joint special cat day on April the seventh. Why then she didn’t know. But it had been a tradition her father had started before she was born.

Wriggling desperately to try and accommodate her larger than average breasts into the ill-fitting dress she grimaced. It was no good. It looked hideous, and her pale skin looked almost alabaster next to the pink lace trim. She tucked a few more pins into her long dark hair, piling the ebony curls on to the top of her head, and then touched up her makeup, hoping that the coral overtones didn’t clash with the blue of her eyes.

It wasn’t that Kate was completely against the occasion, but the dress was clearly designed to either suit (and possibly fit) someone else, or to ensure that she was not looking anywhere near her best. She wasn’t someone who enjoyed dressing up, despite her job she had little opportunity, and generally she lived in jeans, sweaters and converse baseball boots. This monstrosity...she tried to adjust it forcibly in the mirror, then realised that she might actually rip it, was something she had to wear, so she had to plaster on a fake grin and put up with it...hardly difficult.

She was ready before the tap at the door. “Come in!” She’d checked into the hotel an hour earlier, no one knew she was here, except...turning she smiled.

Her mother stood at the door, an emotional look on her face as she took in the sight of her only daughter. Using a finger she swiped at a tear as she tried to smile at Kate.

Kate shook her head, “I know those are tears of sympathy!”  She smiled trying to make light of a tense encounter. It was a long time since she’d seen her mother, and despite how much she loved her, the occasions were always tense.

                “I was just thinking how...unique you look, but you can carry off anything Katie, you should’ve been a model!” Her mother was older than Kate remembered, her short blonde hair was now virtually all grey, and there were wrinkled around her mouth and eyes that hadn’t been there before. And not for the first time she felt tremendous guilt, this time for not visiting more often, not being the daughter she always had been.

                “A model!” She scoffed, “hardly Mum, I’m too chubby for that. Pity I inherited the Michaels genes, you Smith’s are the model quality!” her father had been dark and tall like herself, but he too had been stocky, and his mother and sisters were all ‘blessed’ with very defined hour glass figures. She hugged her mother and the delicate petite woman seemed more fragile than ever before.

Her mother hugged her back with an almost desperate fury, then smiled adoringly at the daughter she loved and missed, handing her the shoes that had been selected for her, “You are anything but chubby! You are a beautiful woman, which is why I hate seeing you throw your life away!”

It had taken all of five seconds before it started again. Kate shook her head and gave her mother a ‘don’t go there’ glare. Change of subject required, she asked, “So what is she like this Paula? Is Stuart happy?” She loved her little brother and couldn’t believe he was marrying at just twenty four, there was another wave of guilt and remorse that she’d yet to meet the woman he was marrying, the woman she was about to be bridesmaid to.

Her mother nodded, “they’re well suited, and he loves her to distraction. And her loving the farm life is such a big bonus, I feared he’d be romanced off to the bright lights and the Big Smoke like you, then I’d really have to sell up!”

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