Hatmaking

by Bridget Lutherborrow

When he died she took up millinery. She bought one smart black dress and started blocking hats. At the funeral, she had worn a badly cut skirt suit and her sister’s heels. In the months afterwards, she accepted every invitation – afternoon teas, soirees, cocktail evenings, coffee dates – each time turning up in the same black shift with one of her own creations nested in her hair.

At first the designs were simple (tasteful, they concluded); but as time passed the felt shapes framing her face became more haphazard (preposterous). For an engagement party, a crest of hand-sewn autumnal leaves sprayed from her forehead. At a Christening, a pillbox frosted with lace as though it were a cake. The top hat she wore for her nephew’s birthday seemed a quirky shade, grass green, but was judged fairly tame. That is, until a hatch in the back let out a small train to trail around the brim.

People asked why she did it – each other at first, then they asked her. From beneath the taxidermied wing of a fairy wren or the coiled, synthetic tail of a pygmy bearded dragon, her answer was always the same – why, because difficult times give you character. It would seem, before he’d died she’d simply had none.

***

Bridget Lutherborrow is a Sydney-based writer and designer. She has a double degree in creative writing and communications from the University of Wollongong and a long history of quizzical looks.
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  1. #1 by marc nash on June 3, 2011 - 11:26 pm

    wondering if this was prompted (inspired?) by that ridiculous concoction worn by the two princesses at the recent Royal Wedding bash we had over here in the UK? And to think they’re called ‘Fascinators’… Only in a jaw dropping disbelief sort of fascination…

  2. #2 by sonia on June 4, 2011 - 1:10 am

    yeah, I was also thinking about some the silly hats in the royal wedding. But the story is good! I really like the last line.

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