“I want this to rip open from the
sides,” I said. “Easy and quick.”
“But, honey,” said the seamstress,
“this is a bridesmaid dress.”
“Yes,” I said. “I know.”
The seamstress, fifty-something,
with hair an alarming shade of
blond, raised an eyebrow. Her gaze
roamed me, tits to toes and back.
Out the window, Kitty’s Adult Books
blazed in neon across the street.
The blood in my face drained to my
fingertips, where it pulsed. I
struggled to look naughty and
cursed my checkered dress.
She grinned. “You’re no stripper.”
I clenched my jaw with the
exquisite resolve that had settled
there six months ago and hushed
my fellow librarians.
The seamstress’s grin faded. “When
do you want it?”
“Caroline.” Like she’d need that to
remember me. Like any of them
* * * * *
I strangled my bouquet and glanced
at team chiffon and chignon. Sweat
dribbled down my spine on an
unimpeded path to the hinterlands,
shouting how naked I was beneath
my flounced dress.
The bride and groom stood before
Father Cormac, their heads
steepled close. Stone screwed a
gold band over Yarrow’s knuckle.
Yarrow had foregone the veil for a
simple tiara. They sniffled at each
other. The best man handed Yarrow
Stone’s ring. Yarrow took Stone’s
hand. That hand had traced my
body like I wanted to be traced
“You don’t mind?” they’d asked,
perched beside me on my parents’
couch. Mom and Dad had sat on the
loveseat, beaming at my sister,
Yarrow, not me. I remembered
how I had not been able to take my
eyes off her new diamond’s sparkle
as her hand grasped mine, had not
been able to speak because my
teeth clenched against wailing.
“I knew you wouldn’t mind. You’re
so good,” Yarrow’d said as she’d
turned to embrace Stone. Over her
shoulder, he’d mugged resignation.
Now, I hoped pasties and a G-string
weren’t the better choice.
“You may kiss the bride!”
I turned to the guests, who were
gazing at Stone and Yarrow. Mother
looked like she was witnessing the
resurrection. She swabbed her eyes
with two fists of tissue. Stone’s
mother, however, squinted, one
eye narrowed to a slit. His father
stared like a flogged Chihuahua.
I felt my breasts and specially
trimmed pubic hair brush against
my dress. I pinched the tabs, and
imagined the qukkk of Velcro and
the shoosh of gossamer cascading
around my mauve pumps. If I bent
one knee forward, the slenderness
of my thighs was accentuated, and
my updo infused class.
I raised my hands to the tabs, but
Stone’s mother snared me with the
purse of her lips, the calculation
squeezing creases at the corners of
her eyes. An intake of breath rose
from the pews. A sigh. An Ahh! Her
expression did not change.
I stepped out of formation and
studied my sister, who had always
been willing to drink, to smoke, to
break curfew, to ask me to lie―the
only person I’d ever lied for. I had
introduced them over dinner at
Little Italy and never suspected the
attraction or the deception that
followed. Now, in Yarrow’s beatified
face, I saw the matrimonial
torment she, Stone, and Stone’s
mother would pummel out of each
other. I realized I’d been
overlooking the furrow of Stone’s
brow, the clemency in his gaze. My
fingertips throbbed, but I let go the
tabs and dropped my arms to my
sides, dress intact. I teetered like a
The couple whisked through the
standing, clapping guests. The best
man and maid of honor followed at
the practiced distance. The rest of
the nuptial party readied to file out,
I stepped to groomsman-number-
three. I snaked my hand through
the crook of his elbow, took two
rehearsed steps, and paused.
Stone’s mother stood before her
front pew. I pitched my bouquet to
her and sang, “She’s all yours!” My
dress qukkked. The flowers flew.
Stone’s mother caught them,
lightning quick, and we locked eyes.
The shoulder of my dress flopped
open. I straightened my back and
leveled my boob at her like a gun.
Her hands flew to her chest, and
she flinched at the splash of lily
petals against her face.
“Sweet!” said groomsman-number-
I tried like hell to recall his name
but kept my shoulders back for
We strode down the aisle, beaming,
past gasps and the flash of
cameras, toward my sister, her
new husband, and the dazzling sun.
Heather Sappenfield has never been a bridesmaid.
She lives in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
In 2011, she won the Danahy Fiction Prize at the
Tampa Review and was the Honorable Mention for The
Bear Deluxe’s Doug Fir Award. Her stories have
appeared or will soon appear in Meridian, Limestone,
Tampa Review, and Shenandoah.