The bridesmaids dresses for Maggy’s wedding were fuchsia pink and her mother insisted that the shoes be the same, so Kelly and Erin went to a shop named “Dyeing To Meet You” to have the colours matched. Kelly tackled the language barrier between her and the older man at the counter while Erin explored the aisles that were jam packed with accessories and nicknacks. The displays were filled with shoe polish, glitter, glass beads and broaches, and racks of faux jewelry that rivalled that of royalty.
Erin noticed a strand of pearls that had a butterfly clasp and she was excited because she had seen one just like it as a kid and had wished that it was hers. Now that it was in front of her once again she considered buying it, but when Kelly called to go she decided not to and left. From that moment on however she continuously thought about the pearls and couldn’t get the image of them out of her mind. There was something about them that spoke to her in a way that needed to be resolved.
The girls ran errands all day for Maggy who was busy finishing the last details of her plans.
“Your mother called,” said Finola to Erin when they returned to the apartment. “She’s coming to the wedding.”
Erin phoned her mother back and learned that Father Michael had bought her tickets, complete with accommodations and new luggage for the trip.
“He insisted,” explained Kerry. “He said it would be good for me.”
Erin agreed to meet her mother at the airport but couldn’t help wondering why Kerry would travel so far for a wedding. She hadn’t gone to her own children’s weddings when they were in other countries and she wasn’t one for dressing up or making a fuss about things. She was a practical person who thought that nothing good ever came from extravagance.
Finola and her sisters were amused with the idea that their ex-sister-in-law was going to attend the wedding.
“New York will be a shock for Kerry,” said Finola.
“She’ll be overwhelmed.”
“She couldn’t do this on her own.”
“It must be nice having a rich priest for a brother.”
“A rich priest indeed.”
On the day before the wedding Erin took a bus from her office to the airport to meet her mother. She memorized the flight number and found the international section where she stood among the crowd who was eagerly waiting for new arrivals.
Erin watched for a petit waif of a woman who was known to shy away from crowds. Her mother was bold with her own children but was withdrawn from anyone who had authority. Erin was concerned that her mother wouldn't be able to find her way through the airport and would be reluctant to ask for help to find her luggage.
Twenty minutes passed, then thirty and fifty and she hadn’t shown up. Other travellers had come and gone and the waiting area had cleared out. Erin was anxious and began to worry that her mother was in trouble, however right then, the doors opened and through it came a group of people laughing loudly and carrying on as if they were having a party.
Erin could hardly believe her eyes. There were ten people from Kinkerry, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbours, and they were all dressed impeccably and carried modern, sporty luggage. Each one, including her mother was grinning from ear to ear and not one of them looked uncomfortable or lost in the slightest.
Quickly, all ten members of the Irish delegation spotted Erin and each one yelled out her name as if they had been waiting for years to finally see her. It was Erin, not her mother, whose cheeks flushed red as she became overwhelmed by the greeting. She was hugged and pinched and had her head patted down as if she was a pet. They all commented on how much she had grown and how she looked like other members of the family.
Kerry stepped in close to Erin and said, “You’ll overwhelm the girl. Give her some room to breathe.”
The others stepped back which made Erin perturbed. “Well,” she said, “I wasn’t expect’n the lot o’ you.”
Erin’s mother explained that they had come to New York as a group, to meet with buyers and buy fabric for their new business. They had started a clothing company together and their designs were so popular that they could barely keep up with the orders.
Erin was lost for words and simply followed them to the waiting shuttle that took them to their hotel. Kerry said that she would meet Erin in the morning for the wedding but that she wouldn’t have much time because she still had a lot of cutting and stitching to do before showing samples to their clients. Erin sat still in her seat and hardly said a word. The others were so excited and busy with their plans that there was no time for small talk. While she had gone to the airport to soothe her mother’s nerves, her mother was the one with the metal.
Later that evening at the rehearsal dinner, Peter thanked everyone for coming and made a generous toast to his soon to be bride. The guests made polite conversation as best they could, given that many of them were estranged from each other and didn’t respect each others lives.
When it came time to leave, Finola and her sisters, Kelly and Erin shared a cab back to their apartment.
Erin stared out the window and barely noticed the scenes on the street but when she saw the sign for the ‘Dye One On’ shop she called out, “Stop here! I’ll be right back.”
The driver pulled over and Erin jumped out.
“What on earth?” grumbled Finola.
“What is this place?”
“It’s where we had the shoes dyed.”
“I think she’s buying a necklace.”
“They have jewelry too?"
At the mention of shoes and jewelry the other ladies had to have a look and so they jumped out and hurried inside.
Erin was already at the counter paying for the plastic pearls with the butterfly clasp when the others entered and browsed the aisles. Finola stood behind Erin and said, “Choose pearls wisely, especially when they’re fake.”
Erin flinched and held the velvet bag tight to her body. For her, the pearls couldn’t have been more authentic or more loved.
“Fake ones break more easily,”warned Finola.
“They’re not going to break.”
“That’s what they all say.”
Erin put the sachet in her pocket for safe keeping and when she got home she put it under her pillow. “Everything breaks,” she heard repeated over and over in her mind as she drifted off to sleep.