"Hurry along now," chided Lucille as she pulled open the side door to St. Luke's. From inside the church, the high peals of organ music mingled with the buzz and shuffling of arriving guests. She shooed me into the sacristy, the tiny room adjoining the sanctuary where the priest ans acolytes put on their vestments before each service. On the counter next to the parish register lay two bouquets of the same type as the disputed altar flowers: luscious spills of creamy white stock and fragrant freesia, tiny pink carnations and white and pink sweetheart roses. There was one for me and one for Marla, who in addition to being best friend and matron of honor, was the other ex-wife of my first husband. Lucille informed me Marla was out in the narthex, "giggling wildly with that jewelry raffle committee, but what else would you expect?" She would send her back. Lucille's tone signaled her opinion of both the raffle committee and Marla, its chairwoman. Giving me another of her razor-edged glances, she commanded me to stay put.
Arch craned his neck around the door to the sacristy. He pushed his glasses up his freckled nose and said, "I know. You're nervous, right?"
"Remember your first day of seventh grade?"
"I'd rather not." He scooted through the door and closed it softly behind him. "Hate to tell you, Mom, but your hat's on crooked."
I smiled. Thin-shouldered and narrow-chested, Arch had taken great pains with his own scrubbed and buttoned-up appearance. But the kid-sized tuxedo only emphasized all the growing up he'd had to do in the last five years. First he'd escaped into fantasy role-playing games. Then he'd endured harassment at a new school. Only in the last few months had Arch found a sense of family support from two people Julian Teller, our nineteen-year old live-in boarder, and of course, Tom Schulz. For the first time in years, my son seemed genuinely, if precariously happy.
Reluctantly, I turned to look at the crooked headgear in the long mirror behind the sacristy door. As I feared, the glass reflected a short, thirty-one year old female with blond corkscrews of hair protruding from a cockeyed hat that looked too sophisticated for her slightly rounded, slightly frecked face. I removed the odious beige silk thing, reseated it, and stabbed ferociously with the hat pin. I loathe hats. Even when catering the most elegant dinners, I never wear a chef's cap. But Father Olson had suggested my wearing a hat would appease the Altar Guild, whose many rules I was shattering by getting married in Lent, for the second time, with lots of flowers. Arch, on tiptoe behind me, frowned as he adjusted his black-and-silver-striped cravat. The tuxedo was a little big. Nevertheless, he looked absolutely dashing. I turned and gave him an impulsive hug.