The August 8, 2022 story challenge from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch is to: Write a story about “the one who left the dress.” A 1940s-era dress still hangs in an abandoned house. Who left it and why? You can take any perspective and write in any genre. It can be a ghost story. Or not. Go where the prompt leads! Submit at Carrot Ranch by August 13, 2022.
After a bit of a drought I was pleased to get a story right away from this prompt. Done. Initially this was 99 words about a woman who didn’t want to give up work she’d done well and enjoyed doing. But what happened to that dress that was left behind? Might it become a family’s story cloth? Not done; I added two more and finally a fourth was written.
The One Who Left the Dress by D. Avery
“The factory is giving our jobs to the men. Some thanks.”
“What are you complaining about, Maeve? Your husband made it home, intact. He wants to start a family.” She giggled and slapped her friend playfully. “Time to get back to the real business of being a woman.”
“I liked working.”
“So be a secretary.”
“Rick agreed to secretarial work. He even bought me this dress.”
“It’s perfect! Oh, gotta run. Dinner!”
“I built airplanes,” Maeve whispered as her friend let herself out.
Then she packed her suitcase. She included some of Rick’s clothes. She left the dress behind.
“This looks like it’s from the forties.”
“It is. I think it’s perfect for my first day. At Ms. Magazine!”
“I thought they wore pants. Where’d you get it anyway?”
“Family heirloom. See, my mother had a friend who left this dress along with her husband soon after the war because she didn’t want to be a housewife or secretary. After my mother divorced her crazy first husband, she married the friend’s husband and got the dress too.”
“That’s not family.”
“Sure it is. That sister left this dress behind. Her choice helped get us where we are today.”
“Uh-oh. The dress. What’s wrong?”
“I think my mom never gave her mom enough credit.”
“Grammy got herself out of an abusive relationship and into a good loving one. She chose to be a housewife and mother and was damn good at it.”
“Is it the promotion?”
“Same old story. A guy I trained got it.”
“We can’t afford to do what my grandparents did.”
“It should be a choice. An affordable choice.”
“Maybe your mom will lace up her marching shoes again. Really? Kids?”
“No. Maybe. Who will I leave this dress to?”
This fourth episode has been written but will debut in the collection of The One Who Left the Dress stories at Carrot Ranch next Wednesday. I hope you come by to read it along with all the other responses to the prompt.
How would you tell the tale of a 100 year old dress (and its owners) in 99 words?