Curtains Made of Lace


American Gothic by Grant Wood  1930

She didn’t ask for much.  A smile, a touch–a little love and tenderness to shift the close of a dirt and scrabble day.

First year married drifted by on a breeze of hope and expectation.  There was work to be done.  Hard work, but worth the blisters raised as they dug a life out of rough earth; grew the wheat to make the bread they hoped would sustain them.

Second and third years married passed in a flurry of motion building on the first.  More earth to till, more grain, more sweat.  An arch of eyebrow, a sigh.  No babies planted, but years stretched out ahead of them.  There was time yet for that.

The farm grew in acres.  Middling trees marked the borders of all they owned.  She made curtains from her bridal veil and hung them in the window of the room where a child would one day sleep.

Four years swept by, then five, six, seven.  They bought a tractor when she wanted a crib.

The tenth year saw a drought.

It rained through much of the eleventh year.  The silo was replaced.

Year fifteen a barren womb dried up and was removed.  Hope shriveled to a useless thing.

The seventeenth year she set a potted plant out on the front porch and tried to put her  faith in that.

Disappointment etched lines between her brows. She left the curtains hanging in the upstairs room.  The lace had come all the way from France.

It would make a fine shroud–all she wished for now.


n.b.  Writing prompt by Visual Verse.  While my friends were dancing, I sat in a corner and came up with this.  Don’t ask me why.  Muses don’t have to have a reason.

23 thoughts on “Curtains Made of Lace

  1. I think I haven’t looked carefully at this before. She does have a lovely cameo and I wonder if an old maid aunt who went to Europe brought it to her, as mine did. Dreams…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t really looked at it carefully myself until the image showed up in my email with the invitation to use it as a story prompt. I thought that the cameo was probably an heirloom handed through the generations. And I did think that it was a relative that gave her the gift of lace from France.


  2. Chills. Brava, Mary, brava.

    “She made curtains from her bridal veil and hung them in the window of the room where a child would one day sleep.” … to shroud. Ooph.

    Love the drought metaphors and the whole fertile crops and baby saplings…

    Did you ever read Olive Kitteridge? By Elizabeth Strout. Olive had a son, but somehow you captured a piece of her in your words too. They did a miniseries from the book, and it was fabulous, but the book was even richer and layered. You’d like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I DID read Olive Kitteridge — years ago when the book came out. I loved it. Didn’t see the miniseries; we don’t get HBO.

      Metaphors. Huh. It’s funny that I never thought about that while I was writing. It was more like being possessed. Life is such a kicker sometimes, though, isn’t it? It presents us with metaphors whether we want to accept them or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sitting here with goosebumps. I read this yesterday, and those lace curtains and the woman’s eyes stayed with me all day.
    You are a master weaver of words. I even appreciated your footnote – “while my friends were dancing, I sat in a corner and came up with this. We don’t know where the stories come from, we just know that they must be told.
    Thank you for sharing yours…I could read you every day. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Michelle. You are too sweet. Actually, I was tired, or I would have been dancing, too. I sat down in a corner to plug my phone into an electrical outlet, saw the image, and just started writing while my phone charged. 🙂


  5. I must be the darkest sonofabitch, because I loved this.

    Yes, it’s very dark. But the way you write, my God . . . I could just get lost inside of your words and be perfectly fine. Just leave me be everyone! I’m lost inside Mary’s words, it’s cool!

    A beautifully dark (How’s that for trying to find the middle?) interpretation of a famous work of art that left me entranced. As per usual when it comes to your writing. I tell you, Mary, I am in love with your writing. I don’t like to get all flowery and drown you in superlatives, but I can’t lie. Your writing is always an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary, the fact that you wrote this while your friends danced is a testament to your vision and talent.
    Your story tugged at my heart and offered explanation for the wistful, disappointed look on her face.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Prairie Burn – Repost – Lipstick and Laundry

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