Lori walked into the dress shop. Dresses lined the shop, creating a sea of silky color. She sifted through dress after dress, not really knowing what she was looking for, and every once in a while plugged her nose long enough to look at the shoes. She did hate the stink of leather…
Finally summoning the courage, she walked up to a rather busy, heavyset woman and smiled brightly. “Hi, Anna. I need a dress.”
The woman stopped sewing and looked up at Lori, peering with a keen eye through her white bangs. “Why, slap me silly! Little Lori?” Anna rose quickly and enveloped the much smaller woman in a huge embrace. “I haven’t been seein’ ya in years, girl! What’s been goin’ on?!” She pulled Lori back to arm’s length, looking her in the eye. “You need a dress, now, d’ya? Ah, I have jus’ the thing.”
Lori smiled nervously as she watched Anna disappear into the back. She milled around for a bit, almost pacing. Anna finally emerged carrying a rather smooth and delicate dress, dyed the perfect hue to match Lori’s bright teal eyes. Those eyes began to widen in surprise and admiration. “Oh, Anna! It’s.. lovely.”
Anna grinned, wiping her hair to the side quickly. “Had t’ make it fer some other young missy like yerself, only she di’nt come t’ pick it up! C’mon now, go try it on! I’ll fix it on up fer ya t’day.” She very forcibly began to shove Lori toward the back room and privacy.
“But are you s–”
The large and quite jolly woman cut her off with a “Tut tut tut!” and a laugh. “Am I sure?! Lori doll, I havn’t been seein’ ya in years. ‘Course I’m sure!” She waved the young (to her eyes) strawberry blonde on further into the room.
Lori emerged minutes later, the hem dragging a bit. “This woman was tall, huh?” She looked down at the dress and ran her hands down her sides in awe as Anna smiled proudly. “It’s… absolutely amazing.” She looked up and blinked. “Anna, is this appropriate for a first dance?”
“First dance? Whatcha talkin’bout there, Lori?”
Lori looked back down at the dress, watching her hands. She tried (but failed) to hide a smile. “A dance, where people gather and I sit in the corner quietly, trying not to break anything.”
Anna blinked, watching the woman. “Yer goin’ to a dance? With who?”
The not-so-well-hidden smile blossomed on her face as Lori looked up to the kindly woman. “A really sweet man from Gondor. I… I asked him. It’s one of those dances, where the women ask the men to escort them.” Her face flushed and Lori ran her hands along the sleeves, admiring them.
“Well, it’s ’bout time, I say. Yer father always been worried sick ’bout you not findin’ a man one day, y’know.” She grinned and bopped Lori on the back, hugging her again. “He’d be right glad t’ see ya so happy. Y’ know that, right?”
Lori’s eyes filled up with tears as she hugged Anna back. “I hope so.”
“Whelp, then! You get yerself outta this, and I’ll be fixin’ that hem up fer ya.” Anna stepped back, faint tears in her own eyes.
She gazed at the woman briefly, her eyes sad. “I’m sorry my father never understood.”
Anna waved her hand dismissively, still some tears in her eyes. “Men will be men, ya hear me? Don’t be lettin’ yer man get away, now. If there’s goin’ to be one missy who deserves t’ be happy and loved, it’d be you. Now get!” She swatted at Lori as if she was a small animal.
Lori tripped on the way back in, but eventually emerged unscathed with the dress in hand. Anna quickly grabbed it from her, waving her off.
“At th’ end of th’ day! I don’ be carin’ what ya do, go see yer man and make sure he don’t be goin’ nowhere!”
Anna refused to respond further to Lori, so she eventually walked out with a sad smile on her face. She looked up to the bright morning sky and her smile turned happy as she saw a bird poke through a fluffy cloud. “I plan on it.”
((Originally posted here.))