A Little Taste of Heaven

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"All I want is to hold you." (1)

When the clock tower chimes at five this evening at the main building, our homeroom teacher, Mrs Burton, alongside her teachers in practice, have been preparing to take over our coffee and tea shop since we won the overall standing in the freshmen category. This news is not surprising because Ros and our teacher are both perfectionists, and I knew our homeroom was the winner. Ros and the others help them out. Only the four winners are still open for some guests and faculty, as the others pack their stuff up. Kids here are wealthy — I mean, their parents are — so naturally, every homeroom has called up servants to get rid of what needs to be cleaned and trashed.

The students pamper themselves for the Ball this evening. I heard some of them used the backstage dressing room of the theatre hall from Nicole, while some went to the gym to shower, which I heard from Jason. But I am not one of them. I waited for Ros and April to finish explaining what to do in our room to Mrs Burton, which is odd because she knows every step of our progress, and she precisely knows what to do. I have mentioned that our teacher is a perfectionist, have I not? It seems, to me, Ros is having a hard time letting go of the success from her grasp as if it is not going her way again. April is there telling her we should go and beautify ourselves.

When April triumphantly swayed Ros by saying we only have less than two hours left to prepare before the event starts, the three of us go back to my house to help each other out of our day dresses and get ready for the Ball. No worries! If this were a film, a dress-up montage would not occur. Perhaps, it’s just me, but the sequence in rom-coms is boring to me. Lol, anyway, since the Ball is a surprise by the teachers, this unknown event makes Ros’s nerves out of control. Maybe that’s the reason why she’s taking too long in the shower.

Every year the teachers organized this event as gratitude for their students’ hard work for the week. Yeah, I know we are spoiled brats. Anyway, every year the theme is different, and they always tell us to stick to our assigned eras/motif and dress to impress and that was it. I know the motif this year, but I don’t want to spoil it just yet since I might be wrong. It is going to be a huge dinner party, and it will start at seven. It’s not prom, but I suppose it’s as massive as prom. Odd, I know, but this is how things here at Harrison High work; social gatherings and all that.

The first one to finish taking a bath was me, and I am tying the ropes of my robes around my waist as I open the ornate box where my other dress sits. The vintage dress is simply exquisite! I am so scared of touching it or pulling it out too hard because it is a delicate piece of my heritage. The evening dress has four pieces of clothing, and its base colour is eggshell white. It actually looks like a wedding dress, but it was not like that back in the days. The top or blouse is hand-sewn with pearls and beads. Embroidered in lace and golden flowers, the square cloth looking fabric to put over my shoulders and the rectangular cloth to wrap around my waist accentuated the outfit. The skirt is also embellished with the same design but only from across the hem. I put the pieces on hangers and put them on the rack, caressing the fabric.

Nana Charlie had mentioned it’s an improvised Maria Clara (it’s a dress originated from Spain or the Philippines, I think. I have no idea, to be honest) from her mum’s mother, who was a Mestiza. Yesterday, back at Grandma’s, while she and her maid carefully wrapped the gowns, Nana Charlie went to me and gave me another ornate box. But this time it was smaller, and so I can put it in my bag. She told me it belonged to her mother. I opened it, and on top of the folded dog-eared parchments, which I assumed are letters and photographs, there was another small box. She took it out and presented it for me to see: it was a necklace. I didn’t pay much attention to its details when I got this the first time she gave it to me. It was simple but, oh, so lovely. The pendant is round, and inside of it is a faded yellow daisy and has a small diamond placed on the floral disc. Nana recalled that her father told her when she was younger. It was his present to her mother when she turned 17. She said she also read it in the letters.

I wrap the lace twice around my neck so the pendant would be visible on my chest. I got to preach the carefulness of my dad’s side of the family by passing down heirlooms, like this gown and this necklace dangling across my neck (and some pieces of jewellery my brother and sister will receive). Holding the pendant in my other hand, I swore in my grave that I would be taking good care of these inheritances she passed onto me.

Sitting in front of my vanity mirror, for the first time, I admire how the necklace looks good on my neck as if it is destined for me. My relatives say I looked like Nana when she was younger (except I have dark brown locks and green eyes while Nana was blonde and her eyes were hazel). I must have looked so much more like her now. My eyes start to water and wipe the tears as they attempt to stream down my face. I shake my head and smile at the mirror. She had a great long life, and that’s what counts.

Pulling myself together, I tied my hair up so that I could start putting step by step makeup on my face and work my way through to pull off an elegant look when April walks out from my bathroom. Her footsteps stump heavily on my carpet (it seems like she’s sprinting).

She goes inside my closet and looks at me in the mirror, “so?!?!?!?!”

My eyebrow shoots up as I stare back at her, confused. “So?” and turned around so I could look at her properly. “Er, what do you mean?” and then my eyes widen as I remember the messages they sent me, “oh, by the way! Why were you guys asking for my help last night?”

Ros comes in, holding her evening dress, hair the same style as earlier, and says to me, “Mari, you just disappeared last night. So, we assume you were with Ryan the whole evening. How was your date with him?” She nudges me before setting her dress down on my ottoman. She looks back at me, and I see her smirking.

To give them clarification and not have swirling clouds of unrealistic imagination in their heads, I told them what happened as I helped them get in their dresses, pulling just right to make the corset in their waist presentable and breathable. They’re shocked and happy for me, and we couldn’t help ourselves and feel giddy because of how good things are turning out for us.

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