On that morning, despite a church full of bodies, there were only two women in the congregation relevant to the story. The first one arrived promptly with her husband and two young sons, even though she spent the better part of the morning agonizing over the propriety of wearing jeans to church. She decided it was okay, this one time, since her dresses were dirty and her pants in desperate need of alteration.
Dark jeans, white tank, and a linen, deep v-neck tunic with exceptionally thin magenta pinstripes that looked nice with the red in her capiz-shell dangle earrings and wedge shoes. She was trying, but not too hard. Or at least that was the appearance she wanted to put forth. She wore her hair in a low slung ponytail and made sure her makeup looked natural, just to drive the point home.
They sat in their usual seats.
Later, much later, the second woman entered the church alone and created quite a commotion. A commotion, at least, for the woman wearing linen.
The other woman minced in 20 minutes late on 6.5 inch platform stilettos in a most unfortunate shade of purple which, for the record, is an entirely different color than magenta. The zippers on said shoes (zippers! thought the woman in linen) hit the backs of her heals when she walked and made a sound like pennies rubbed together.
This new woman, the woman in purple, tossed her black purse into the pew directly in front of the woman in linen.
The woman in linen stifled a sigh.
The shoes matched a full, pleated, knee-length skirt in an ikat pattern of purple, fuscia, black and cream. The wife-beater tank top was the same deep purple of the skirt and shoes, but the bra peeking out was black. The woman in purple wore her waist long dark hair in four evenly spaced french braids that divided her head into quarters. They were tied at the bottom with hairbands. Purple ones, naturally.
The outfit was a terrible mess. The woman in purple was a soft-centered woman with appendages just as doughy, and a wildly patterned full skirt and a tight fitting tank top did little to flatter her figure.
Empire waists. Dark, solid colors on the bottom. Tops that skim, not cling. The woman in linen fingered the edge of her tunic and smoothed out the wrinkles that didn’t exist on her dark rinse jeans. It was all she could do to keep her thoughts on the mass and not on the mess in front of her. There are few things more inappropriate than dispensing fashion advice during church.
Time passed, until the oddest thing happened. Truly, it the reason why this story is worth telling. When the two women–the only two women relevant to this story–stood up to speak the profession of faith, only one voice rang clear and loud without the benefit of the missal shut firmly in the pew pocket before her. Only one woman could profess words long ago memorized in a voice so full of conviction. Only one woman did so, and it was not the woman wearing linen.
Both women sat down, the woman in linen squirming slightly in her tunic. The sleeves cut into her and the material seemed to stretch taught across her chest. Even the deep-v of the collar suddenly seemed too tight. She felt all around uncomfortable, which was odd. The tunic, with its empire waist that skimmed not clinged, fit her perfectly that morning.