writing prompt: clothing

How often did you wear it? Write about a piece of clothing that was important to you at some time in your life.

My velvet purple elephant dress.

Oh, how I loved that dress. It wasn’t all purple, mind you. It looked like a two piece outfit: velvet purple knee-length skirt with a long sleeve white knit top that had little purple elephants on it. And it came with a purple velvet choker. I felt so grown up wearing that choker.

It wasn’t just the feeling of grown-upness that made me love the outfit. My older sister had a dress and choker like mine, only it was red instead of purple and I think the print animals were ducks instead of elephants. When we went to school together, dressed in our velvet dresses, there was no doubt that we were sisters. I was six and she was ten and I looked up to her so much. Sometimes when she got upset or angry with our parents – as would happen the few times she wasn’t as angelic as my memory would like to paint her – she would talk to me about running away. It didn’t happen often, but it would scare me when it did. And I would always manage to talk her out of it (though, looking back on it now, I don’t think she was ever serious about it, even when she swore that, this time, she really meant it).

I was always so proud of myself for being able to convince her to stay with me. I mean, I loved all of my other siblings. But my older sister was special. I wanted to be just like her when I got older.

After she died – killed at ten by a hit and run driver a month before her eleventh birthday – I dearly wished I had had the chance to turn back time and talk her and my brother out of crossing the road that night. But I couldn’t, and I was the oldest sister now, so it was my turn to be a good role model for my younger sisters. And so I took on her likes and interests: primarily the singer Tom Jones and the life of Helen Keller, because that’s what oldest sisters were interested in. I didn’t relinquish my own fascinations with astronomy and biographies. They were just put on the back burner for awhile. At least until I realized that I could be myself and still be a good oldest sister (though that realization was, admittedly, quite long in coming).

I still wore my purple elephant dress for as long as I could.

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