The smallest stain

When Donna stepped into the white expanse of the dress Martina couldn’t help but think of her own wedding; the borrowed dress, the local magistrate, the daughter forming within her. She’d always wanted so much more for that daughter.

Martina took up her needle. As she hemmed she went through the arrangements—catering, flowers, photographer. Her finger caught in the tuille and her needle pricked her finger.

A drop of red fell onto the silk, a tiny spot inside the hem, but it was enough for Martina. A tear formed and when Donna said, ‘Mum?’ more tears followed.

‘Mum? What is it?’

Martina looked at her daughter and saw herself at the same age. And she thought of the struggles she and Desmond had been through and the marriage, which, like a weed sown between paving stones, had survived but never flourished. For the first time she knew the question she’d been avoiding had to be asked. ‘Who are you doing this for?’

‘I’m doing it for me.’

Her mother raised her eyes, mascara streaking beneath them.

‘And I do love Peter,’ said Donna. It seemed  an afterthought.

‘I think you do. Really,’ said Martina. ‘But how much?’

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (