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  • by Janet St. John

Art & Soul Short #32

To read/re-read Part 1 click here!

Museum Piece (Part 2)

While waiting with Jules during a chemo treatment once, she had asked Lana what she wanted to do once the girls were off to college. Lana said, “Maybe take some classes.”

“Like a cooking in France or Italy?” Jules asked.

Lana was thinking maybe a small business course at the community college. She was intrigued by having an idea, outlining a business plan, finding investors. “How does someone find people willing to shell out money to support a dream?” Lana accidently blurted to Jules.

“Depends on the dream. But a good idea is a good idea. What are you thinking?”

Lana muttered something about using her baking skills, maybe a bakery in that area of town where things were turning around, becoming trendy. Jules smiled, saying, “That’s a great idea.” Holding up a tiny bag of processed mini chip cookies the nurses handed out along with pretzels and crackers and other unhealthy things to already sick people as to restore their energy, Jules said, “One of your beet-filled red devil cupcakes would beat this crap any day. Homemade food is food for the soul.”

It was the last thing Lana needed. A wedding sash. Not a scarf or wide belt or skinny shawl. Not some of Jules’ exotic jewelry, not that Lana would ever attempt to wear that. Jules had been big boned and a little chubby. She wore clothing and jewelry like a mother goddess. She wasn’t buttoned up and proper. She burped when she drank beer. She spoke with food in her mouth. And she never criticized Lana, called her “rail thin” like other relatives, never asked if she’d lost more weight, if she was dieting. Lana never dieted. She just didn’t have much of an appetite.

Someone had already taken the sash off the hanger, folded it lengthwise, neatly rolled and wrapped it in tissue paper, set it in a box narrow as a doll coffin, with no air to circulate around it, no way to display its aged but resilient beauty. Lana had to admit it was beautiful. A card in the bottom of the box seemed a certification of its age and origin: late 19th to early 20th century, Morocco. Maybe it was worth something. Maybe Lana could take it to one of those antique roadshows and make a fortune. It seemed like it belonged in a museum, with other lovely useless things. But it was hers now, and she knew Jules would never have sold it. Maybe Jules meant to send Lana back in thought to that time when she was first in love, first looking ahead to the life she would create, the life she and Scott would build together. The hope and promise and dreams in that time of life. Or maybe Jules just thought Lana’s magazine-cover home décor needed spice, something more foreign than Ethan Allen, color a little richer than grey or white or beige.

Lana closed the sash box and placed it in her large leather purse-meets-satchel. She decided she would go online the next day, even visit the university library, and research the history of wedding sashes in Morocco. She might find photographs of other sashes or read about what the horizontal repeating patterns symbolized. She might discover who the sash weavers were, where they got their materials. She could find out why they were worn and where on the body they were placed. Maybe Lana would become so fascinated, so engrossed, she would plan a trip, sign up for a tour to Morocco, on her own, where she would think of Jules and miss her and wish she were there. Maybe she would figure out why the sash was special, what besides its beauty made it meaningful. Maybe she would look for the hanger that had held it in Jules’ bedroom. Unwrap, unfold, and release the fabric from its current bound existence in the bedroom she may or may not continue to share with her husband, to remind her of a future she could still dream.

This Art & Soul Short was presented in two installments. Please check the September 8th post for Part 1!

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