Adventure junkie expat Aussie setting out on a new life as full-time writer / domestic goddess.

Born and bred in Queensland Australia but now living in Ireland after a serial travel addiction. Met an amazing man here and ended up staying. Both of the boys were born here and have a weird accent with touches of Aussie, English, Irish and even Spanish from my mum.

To quote Jane Austen: If adventures do not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.

So I finished my degree and like so many young Aussie's headed overseas on my Grand Tour and a little like one of my literary heroes Percy Bysshe Shelley never really made it home.

Started blogging a few years ago but after getting hijacked by a hacker and the pain of taking down the site, went back to my old school journal by the bed.

Now that I am writing full-time and the laptop is superglued to me, I thought I would take up where I left off.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dreams of silk and lace

I passed by the window each morning on my way to work and had done for nearly six months. I often wondered at the sadness of a wedding dress left hanging in full view for so long. Had it already been worn and was kept as some kind of strange decoration in the front room?

Who lived in the slightly derelict Georgian home? I imagined all kinds of scenarios and each day my mind developed a new story. Passing by in the evening was even stranger as the dress took on a ghostly appearance. The room was always in darkness and the streetlamp outside on the path cast an eerie glow into the room, lengthening the shadow of the dress so that it appeared to float.

I was so intrigued that I took special note, passing the house at different times to try and catch a glimpse of its occupants, hoping to stumble upon some clue. And yet, to this day I had never seen a single soul either in or around the house. It appeared occupied and while there were windows to be painted and a general air of disrepair about the place, the flowers in the window boxes were always cared for and no dust ever settled upon the dress.

My curiosity was so great and I had become so invested in my imagined story that on the morning I saw the woman step out the door dressed head to toe in black, I nearly passed on by in a rush of embarrassment at being caught out as the voyeur that I was. However, the pull of the story drew me back. I walked up to the woman and after expressing an interest in the house, asked her about its owners.
"The house has been in my family for nearly 200 years and I have lived here all my life", she answered.

I was thrilled at my good fortune but now came the part I was afraid to admit to. I would have to admit to my obsession with the dress to find out what I really wanted to know. Filled with all the worst scenarios my brain had come up with I could not ask the question. Sensing my hesitation the woman introduced herself and said she had an appointment but would I like to come back for tea and hear more about the history of the house. I nearly cut her off in my excitement and urgent need to accept and already in my head made plans for how I could leave work early. I stood on the path and after watching her step into a taxi and drive off, turned my gaze once more on the dress in the window and stood staring until it felt too uncomfortable to continue.

More nervous than I would be on a first date, I stood on the dorrstep and took a deep breath of air before ringing the bell. I could hear her footsteps approaching before the door opened and almost chickened out. Finally, the door was open and a waft of freshly baked cake and flowers washed over me and before I knew what was happening I was sitting in the front room in front of a full afternoon tea and in direct view of the dress. The room was beautifully decorated with echoes of days gone by and Miss McKay could be described in the same way. It was almost like both of them had stopped aging nearly 10 years previously and that life had simply passed them by. It made me think romantic thoughts of Brigadoon and living outside the bustle of everyday life.

Even though the room and the woman intrigued me, my eyes were constantly drawn to the dress. Up close it held even more mystery and was simply cut in silk and antique lace. The train pooled on the wooden floor and the lace bodice caught the sunlight from the window in a way that made the room seem magical.
"I see you have noticed my dress", Ms McKay said. "Would you like to touch it?"
"I would", I replied, "But more than that, I would like to hear its story".
"It is not an easy story to tell". And with that remark, Ms McKay walked over to a writing bureau in the corner and pulled out a folder filled with photographs.
I sat down next to her and armed with my cup and saucer listened enthralled as she began her tale.

She pulled out a photo of a handsome, dark-haired man and while I held it in my hands she told me how they had met and courted. It was the innocent courtship of a time even earlier than the 70s, of two people from similar backgrounds who did not succumb to the fashion for promiscuous dating. Neither had even kissed another. She told me of their wedding plans and dreams for their future together and I saw tears begin to form in her eyes. She told me of her excitement on the morning of her wedding and her anticipation at seeing her William standing at the alter waiting for her. Her mother had set up the dress in the front room in the very place it still stood, to be put on at the last minute. There was the usual flurry of activity and comings and goings with makeup, hairdressers, flower deliveries and arrivals of bridesmaids and the chatter and noise that goes with it all.

So the ringing of the doorbell and more arrivals did not even register. Ms McKay explained how she was sitting at the kitchen table when her mother came to her, tears in her eyes and wringing her hands to tell her that William had been in an accident and was in a coma. The rest of that week passed in a daze and mercifully friends and famly handled the arrangements and cancellations while Ms Mckay sat at William's side, holding his hand and waiting for him to awaken. A year passed with this as the pattern of her days until her father fell ill and she was needed at home. Uncomfortable around her grief,  her friends avoided her and her life became filled with visits to William and looking after first her father and then her mother as each of them became ill and passed on. Ms McKay seemed bemused that somehow ten years seemed to have passed. Once again, I was reminded of Brigadoon.

"It must be fate that had you cross my path today", she whispered to me. "The appointment I went to this morning was with my solicitor. My William finally gave up his fight two weeks ago and free from the hope of his awakening, I have decided to sell the house and start over."
"What will you do with the dress?", I asked.
"This is why I say it must be fate. The dress has not moved since the morning of my wedding and I do not think it can come with me into my new life. I cannot sell it to someone I do not know for sentimental reasons and my only thought was to gift it to someone who can give it a happy ending. I would like that someone to be you."
In shock, I replied, "But you have only met me today. This dress means so much to you".
"We might only have met but I have seen you passing the house looking in at the dress and on the evening of William's death I stood upstairs at my bedroom window staring out into the dark and the only thing that registered through my tears was the sight of you lingering under the streetlamp to view the silk and lace in all its glory. It is as if the dress has chosen you and meeting this morning on the front step has confirmed it for me. You are young and with your life ahead of you. Let the dress have its day and may it bring you all the love and joy William and I were denied."

Together we carefully took the dress down and wrapped it in tissue paper before placing it gently into a lingerie box. On leaving the house that evening, I looked back at the front room and saw Ms McKay smiling out at me and knew that I carried the magic of previous evenings in the box beneath my arm. In that moment, I knew that my own William would be just around the corner.

Many thanks to Willow for the amazing photograph and Magpie inspiration. A wee nod to Miss Haversham and an Affair to Remember...


  1. this was lovely.perfect for a grey Sunday afternoon :)

    I loved your storytelling


  2. what a lonely and lovely story-will there be more?

  3. such an amazing story, and what love story. excellently told!

  4. A deliciously Brigadoon story! Wonderful read, Deels.

  5. Delia you're a wonderful story teller .. I really enjoyed reading this beautiful story!