I was extremely lucky to have received such a beautiful gift recently. It came in the shape of the most exquisite dress, inherited from my husband’s grandmother, Violet. She really did have impeccable taste and this dress just confirms it.
It was love at first sight! The pallete of pinks, greys and soft mustards with the prettiest of prints, teamed with the romantic sleeves and removable cape, my idea of dress heaven!
After speaking to the family, it seemed there was no story about where this dress was worn and no photographs of Violet wearing it. I had to bring it to life, I thought. So Violet and Charlie (my husband’s grandfather) appear in my little story today. This is completely fantastical and I am just indulging myself but this dress has almost a magical feel to it, the fabric even glistens so it had to be a showstopper….I hope you enjoy!
Violet sat by the bay window at her piano, dappled sunlight filled the room and although this was usually her favourite time of day to play, she was so distracted that she found her mind just wandering and not able to focus on the keys. She was expecting a telephone call. She was hoping for news, the kind of news that could change her life. She wasn’t sure if she was quite ready for it….
The news had arrived that afternoon and Violet had pinched herself many times since then to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. However, she was wide awake and about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Her modest suitcase was packed and inside was a brown paper parcel which her mother had made her promise not to open until she reached her destination. So much to look forward to…
On boarding the train for her first leg of the journey, she let herself imagine the sights she may see and the sound of the most exquisite masterpieces she may hear on arrival. She was transported to the age of Mozart while the English countryside rolled past and disappeared with the hot steam of the engine.
Finally, Violet arrived in the most beautiful place she had ever seen. Vienna. Here was where she would spend the next 4 years of her life, mastering her art and immersing herself in music.
Clutching her suitcase she made her way along the cobbled streets to find her new abode. Her eyes could not quite take in the beauty that surrounded her. Everywhere she looked there seemed to be something even more wonderful to breathe in. It was due to this gawping that she did not see the speeding bicycle heading her way until it was quite too late!
As she lay on the floor, duly shocked and not sure of what exactly just happened, she suddenly heard a voice which sounded equally as shaken! “Oh my goodness, are you ok? I am so so sorry, my brakes don’t seem to be working and I rung my bell but you didn’t seem to see or hear me” It took a few moments for Violet to realise that this voice belonged to the face that was now looking over her. Apart from the throbbing pain in her ankle, she was quite sure she was fine and almost laughed at the situation. She was flat out on the floor in front of the grand St Stephens Cathedral with all of her worldly goods surrounding her, while a dashing young man was fussing over her …. she was quite sure that this was more exciting than anything to have ever happened at home!
She later learned that her bandit/hero was called Charlie, he was a musician also, his violin survived the fall thank goodness! Like Violet, he had ventured over to Vienna to learn from the greats and played in an orchestra. He was so apologetic for what he called “such a catastrophic blunder” that he helped collect her things, sat her upon his bicycle and wheeled her to her new home. She was secretly very relieved about this as she found him quite dashing and her hobbling self would have looked quite unbecoming.
A few days had passed since and Violet had begun to settle into her new life, her ankle was healing nicely and she was beginning to feel at home. That afternoon she was playing a new piece when she heard a knock at the door. How strange she thought, she had not anticipated she would find a huge bunch of flowers hiding a smiling Charlie behind them! It was the most pleasant of surprises! “Violet, please allow me to apologise again. I do hope you are recovering well and have settled in. I got you these to say both sorry and welcome so they had to be an extra big bunch!” He giggled nervously and stood awkwardly. Violet thought this was extremely charming but was quite lost for words. She thanked Charlie and then made her excuses. However, a huge smile spread across her face and stayed for quite some time! On putting the beautiful bouquet into a vase, well more a jug as she didn’t quite find a vase in the basic student room, she noticed a small envelope accompanying them. She felt a little giddy at the prospect of what was inside and opened it speedily.
Written, in the scrawling handwriting of dear Charlie was an invitation:
Violet was so pleased she was alone as her cheeks burned red from blushes. What a splendidly exciting little envelope that was! She would of course accept but must wait a while as to not seem too keen. It had to be said, she had hoped she would bump into Charlie again but had not expected this.
On reflecting on when would be appropriate to reply, Violet suddenly remembered the brown paper package given to her by her mother back home in England. She eagerly opened it, she felt as though it must be her birthday what with all this unwrapping surprises. She let out a gasp so loud the birds outside could hear, as the contents of the parcel were beyond beautiful. The glistening fabric inside revealed itself to be the most divine dress she had ever cast her eyes upon. The prettily delicate flowers and heart shaped leaves that covered it sung of romance and she could feel tears pricking at her eyes for she couldn’t believe how lucky she must be to receive such a beautiful gift at such a perfect time. Her mother had written to her also, she was urging her to wear the dress and follow her dreams. What splendid timing, almost a sign from the stars! Violet was overwhelmed. She felt like this was somebody else’s life, but of course it was her own and she must go out and live it!
The evening came and the new feeling of butterflies whizzing around her stomach made Violet smile. She got herself ready and felt giddy with excitement as she put on the dress of dreams. The ballooned sleeves fastening at a cuff felt so elegant, the waist adorned with the tiniest of pleats made her smile so and putting on the caped jacket made her feel like she had an air of mystery about her which was always a good thing on a first date or so she thought.
The evening passed far too quickly, dinner was eaten cold as Violet and Charlie spoke without pause about life, love and of course music. Violet adored his enthusiasm and thought his smile was something to become lost in. Charlie was mesmerised by her, her eyes danced when she spoke passionately about her art and he couldn’t help but think she looked like she should be twirling on stage to Tchaikovsky in that beautiful dress.
The evening ended with Charlie, who was being so gentlemanly, walked his date home. He engineered one last surprise and led her home via the Vienna State Opera lit by night. As they approached, they could hear the soft echo of Bach playing from inside. Violet felt as though it was just her and Charlie in that moment, the orchestra playing just for them. Thankfully her ankle had mended as she felt the sudden urge to dance, throwing her head back in laughter she pulled Charlie towards her, he replied “shall we waltz?” They danced into the night, Violet in her dress of dreams and Charlie feeling as though all of his dreams had come true….