Anna snipped the thread, now almost invisible on the satin cloth, and set it down to rub her eyes which burned like black sand in the relentless desert sun. She craned her neck over her shoulder to check the time on the stainless steel circular clock perched on the wall over the bulletin board filled with thumbtacked sketches and magazine clippings. “Oh, my God! How could it be 10:00 AM?” She had been sewing since the day before and still had another hour of hemming ahead of her. This had been one of many all-nighters Anna had pulled recently. She looked up from the seed pearls she had stitched by hand and gazed around the crowded windowless studio. Florescent lights bounced off the rolls and bolts of white fabric which stood on end in the corner of the pale blue painted room. Gowns in various stages of creation were spread out on large tables like snowdrifts laced with beads and trim. A long rack of finished and sample wedding dresses in various styles and sizes zipped up in plastic garment bags hung along the wall.
Anna cast her eyes on the one marked, "Emily," and smiled. “That one turned out well. Jaws will drop as she glides down the aisle in it this afternoon.”
She turned off her sewing machine which still radiated heat from hours of sewing. Another long day blended into the weeks of preparation for the upcoming June weddings.
Success had come to Anna with a phone call and an interview. The photo-shoot which soon followed in Brides Magazine brought in more work than she could handle. She didn’t have time to hire, let alone train anyone to help her and for the first time she wondered if she would make some of her deadlines.
Anna had turned off her phone sometime yesterday. The distraction of her roommate Nina calling her with updates on her own upcoming nuptials took up too much of her time. She looked over at the quiet phone and stood up from the table and stretched. Her head felt like it weighed thirty pounds and she tried to release the crick in her neck with tired fingers. “I bet there are fifty messages on the phone by now,” she thought, “I just need a cat nap. I will get up at 11:00 to finish the gown for Beth, meet Nina, her fiancée and her future in-laws at 1:00 PM, and then deliver the gown in enough time for Emily’s 5:00 PM wedding.” She had finished the few alterations earlier and had offered to deliver it to her personally.
She threw herself down on the overstuffed floral couch under the bulletin board and tucked a pillow under her head. Before she thought to set her alarm, she fell into a sound sleep.
Anna woke with a start to the sound of banging. “Boom! Boom! Boom!”
“How long have I been asleep?’ Anna jumped from the couch and gasped when she looked over at the clock which now read 3:40. “Oh, no! Shit!” She ran to the door, unlocked the bolt lock, and it sprung open. Nina pushed passed her into the room and plopped down in a chair at the cutting table.
“I've been trying to get a hold of you all day! Have you been here the whole time?”
“I overslept!” Anna’s heart pounded realizing what she had done. She had missed the luncheon with Nina. Now she would have to sprout wings in order to get to Emily’s wedding on time. As Nina started to speak, Anna grabbed the dress, her phone and purse.
“Nina, I'm so sorry, but I'm late and have to go right now!” She grabbed Nina by the hand and pulled her out the door.
Nina stood with her mouth agape as Anna sprinted down the street with the enormous garment bag draped over her arms.
When she got to the busy corner, she waved down a taxi. “Thank God!”
‘St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” Anna said to the taxi driver. She settled into the back seat of the cab and tried to catch her breath as they pulled away from the curb. “How could I have slept so long?” she thought. She turned on her phone and her heart skipped a beat when she read the screen: 3:52! There is barely enough time to get there on time before the wedding. She texted Emily to tell her she was on her way as the cab careened toward downtown New York City. Her phone rang and it was Emily calling back, but Anna ignored the call not wanting to get an earful from the anxious bride.
The taxi slowed, and then stopped. Horns honked. “What’s going on?” Fresh perspiration broke out all over Anna’s body.
“Construction for the new Franklin apartments. It’s been like this all day. I hope you’re not in a hurry.”
Anna scanned her surroundings, took out a $20 dollar bill and said, “Keep the change.” She bolted out of the cab and headed for the subway. She ran down the stairs, careful not to trip over the long bag. She shook as she bought her token and lifted the heavy dress as she pushed through the turnstile.
It seemed like hours as she stood catching her breath while waiting for the train. Her phone rang again and she rolled her eyes when she saw that once again it came from Emily. “I know! I'm hurrying!” Anna thought to herself. Finally the train arrived and she climbed the steep steps. She visibly shook, but with a sigh of relief, she found a seat near the front catching more than one curious stare from the passengers.
She took out her cell. “4:36!” Anna fought back tears. Her mind raced back to the last fitting with Emily who had beamed at her own reflection when she had tried on the gown. “Perfect!” her mother had remarked. This would be Anna’s first societal wedding. It would be covered in the New York Times and now she might have blown it. The headline would read, “Emily Collins Late for Own Wedding – New Designer at Fault”
The train screeched to a halt. She flew out of her seat, departed the car, and ran up the stairs into the blinding afternoon sunshine. She had to run the last block and a half to the church. Her leaden legs felt as though she was running through water.
The steps up to the massive front entry of St. Patrick’s seemed infinite. She sprinted with the last of her strength. When she finally arrived at the top, she pulled the ancient looking wrought iron handle and opened the carved door. Desperate for her eyes to adjust, she scanned the empty cathedral. The cool still air caused goosebumps to break out on her arms. With a sinking feeling, she realized she must be at the wrong church. Her heart pounded in her chest as she ran up the aisle to the side sanctuary where she had understood Emily and her bridesmaids would dress. “Where is everyone?” A tear trickled down her cheek.
Anna reached for her phone to dial Emily, when the phone began to ring.
“Emily! I'm so sorry. I overslept! I have your dress. Where is everyone?”
“Anna! Today is Friday silly. The wedding is tomorrow! I've been trying to get a hold of you to let you know that the photographer would like a photo of you as well. So you may want to dress up tomorrow! Isn’t that exciting?”
Anna collapsed into the church pew listening to the bubbling bride-to-be and thought to herself, “There is still time to place an ad.”
All Images by Google