The Wedding Dress

"What's this, Mummy?! What's this?" called eight year old Christina as she tugged lightly on a beautiful, white wedding dress. The silk satin gown with beautiful beaded and embroidered bodice with delicate rose patterns was hung in an old wooden wardrobe.

"That's my wedding dress. When I married your father." the reply of her mother came. She sat on the end of the bed, a cigarette between her thin fingers. The room smelt of smoke, but Christina and her mother never noticed the horrible smell anymore. Her mother always smoked.

Christina smiled. "One day, will I have one?" she asked. "A Pretty dress? A Wedding?" she asked.

"I'm sure you'll have a wedding… and, yes, you'll have my dress." she told her, but she then turned her head coughing. The coughing was a harsh sound that came from the unhealthy lungs of the 38 year old woman. After pulling herself to her feet, she crossed the room to Christina and held the wedding dress in front of her child and standing her in front of the long mirror, "See? Little big, but, you're not ready to get married yet." she pointed out. "One day though… One day." she added and smiled to watch her daughters face light up with excitement.

"And you'll see me get married?" Christina asked, her eyes looked at the dress in the mirror, then up to her mother that stood behind her.

"I promise." her mother replied and kissed her cheek.

Thirteen years later. A woman stood in front of the mirror in the smoke stained room. Her fine red hair tied up in a bun, though a few curly strands hung around the frame of her face. Her deep, sea blue eyes were looking into the mirror as the twenty-one year old traces her fingers down the white wedding dress that she wore. Then her sad eyes glanced around to the background of the image of her in the mirror to see that no-one stood behind her. "You promised." she whispered and listened to the car horn beep from outside, waiting to take her to the church. She pulled out of the wardrobe a white, small bag that matched her dress. It also had the beaded and embroidered rose patterns on. She had never opened it. It had been just a bag when she was a child. But now it was so much more, it had been her mothers. Her fingers pushed open the two, small, gold clips that had held the bag shut, there was surprised to find a box of cigarettes and a note. She removed the note and read:

To my dear Christina,

At last your big day has come. If you are reading this, then I have passed on. Even though I'm not there for you to hear my words, let me tell you in writing that you're beautiful. I'll hold you in my heart forever. Though you'll not be able to see me, I haven't broken my promise, I'll be there, watching you get married. I know that you began smoking because I did. Inside I have placed a pack of cigarettes. I trust that you'll know what to do with them.

All my love, Goodbye.

As the words ended, Christina removed the pack of cigarettes and opened the box to look at the little white sticks that had finally killed her mother in the end. She held her arm out and dropped the box into the bin. Then turned to look into the mirror at herself. Her black eye mascara had run from the tears that rolled from her eyes. The little white bag was clutched close to her chest. But her eyes left the gaze on her own image, to see an image of her mother, sitting on the bed behind her, smiling. Christina turned fast in hope that the mirror wasn't lying, but her hopes were shattered as no such woman sat on the bed. Only Christina's bouquet of flowers lay waiting for her. Beautiful lilies and white roses together, tied with a light purple ribbon. However, as Christina stepped closer, there was a difference here and one that could not be explained… A single red rose was in the middle of her bouquet.