Izabelle's mother picked up a dress. It was creamy white, tightened at the waist and sleeveless. The fabric shimmered as the light hit the crystals embedded in it. But she shook her head and put it back on the shelves. She muttered, "So immodest. Only a girl without shame would wear that."
Several shameless dresses later, her mother finally smiled and announced, "This is the one."
Izabelle glanced at it. The grey fabric looked to be heavy and thick. The skirt went to the ankles and the sleeves to the wrist. It was shapeless was no folds or any designs. There was a light yellow stain on the back on the collars. Izabelle's mother noticed her expression, she assured, "A little baking soda and vinegar will get that out."
Izabelle nodded half-heartedly. A blonde girl stood behind the cash register, she said, "Twenty dollars please."
When Izabelle and her mother left the Goodwill store, a sharp ray of sunlight hit their eyes like an arrow. It was a gorgeous day with the sun shining so brightly and the fluffy white clouds scarcely floating in the light blue sky. They walked home in silence. After few minutes, sweat rolled down her forehead. Few more minutes passed, her dress was soaked. She complained, "Ugg...why is it so hot?"
Her mother gave her look. She reminded Izabelle, "Quietness in a woman is a virtue."
Izabelle mumbled an apology before look down on the sidewalk. They were not even halfway home yet. If her brothers hadn't taken the car to bowling, she wouldn't have to stand through this torture. She was the ninth child of twelve, and she was the seventh to be married. Her wedding would be in a week. Everyone around her was very excited and happy for her. She was marrying Josh, a pastor's son. Izabelle's dad said that Josh is a good, holy man. She was not so sure. Josh was twelve years her senior, and he would be turning thirty a month after the wedding. He was also previously betrothed to Iva, her sister. A month after Iva and Josh's engagement, Iva broke it off. She said that Josh was commanding and overbearing. Iva was the black sheep of the family, or so everyone claims. But Izabelle hardly remembers her. She was only five when Iva left.
However, the memory of Iva's argument with their father was still fresh in Izabelle's mind.
Iva told the family of her broken engagement after a chaperoned date. In that split second, her father face turned red, his eyes hardened and the sound of her breathing ascended with each word, "What did you say?"
Her glared at her. His blue eyes no longer shone. There were no sparkles left in them. His thunderous hollers scared her youngest brother. His blaring cries amplified the tense scene. Her mother tried to hush her brother. But her efforts were to no avail. He wouldn't stop. And her father yelled louder to override her brother's deafening bawling.
Iva restated, "I broke up my engagement to Josh. I don't love him."
"Love? You want to talk about love? What happened to your love to God? To biblical womanhood? To obedience? Go in the closet and don't come out until you get to your senses."
"No," She simply affirmed, "Why is it always women who submit to men? Why do we have to remain submissive and obedient all the time?"
Izabelle forgot what happened next. All she knew what that Iva was disowned the next day.
Iva's words were still ringing in Izabelle's head when they entered the door of her house. Their house was built sometimes in the eighties. Some parts of it definitely need renovating. Izabelle walked to her room which she shared with her two younger sisters, Adriana and Andrea. They were not only clones of each other, but replicas of their mother too. They shared the same temperament- soft, sweet, and always so calm. Izabelle remembered her dad boasted, "They will be virtuous women and make godly wives to any man."
Izabelle will be the seventh to marry. Aside from Iva, only her third brother hasn't married yet. Their parents had bugged him about this, but he refused to budge. Their mom comforted herself, "He's only twenty-four, a young age for a man."
Her parents always had different standards for men and women. Men could go whatever they want and do whatever they want once they finish homeschooling. But, women had to stay home to cook, clean and take care of the little ones. If they were not married before eighteen, their parents would spend hours in the closet praying for her thinking her lack of suitors were due to some sin.