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When I was seven, my mother bought me a black velvet dress for my birthday. It had a white collar with white cuffs on the small puff sleeves.
I felt like a princess, and couldn’t stop rubbing my hands over it. Mother told me to stop doing it, as I would ruin it.
My stepfather Joe said he would take me and my brothers to the park. As we left the house, my mother said not to give me any ice cream.
We played on the swings for a bit and then Joe brought my brother’s some ice cream.
I walked away, wondering if he would do as he was told. I didn’t go far, for I hoped I knew better than that and I was right. Joe handed me an ice cream, telling me to please be careful.
I said I would, but what child can eat an ice cream without getting it down themselves? Not me anyway. I kept rubbing at it, making it worse. The velvet was sticking up where I had rubbed it and there was no way to hide it.
All the way home, I wished Joe would run away with us, but he told me not to worry. He would say it was his fault, which in a way it was for buying it for me. I know that’s an unkind thought, but when we got home before he could say a word, mother ripped the dress from my body, leaving her nail marks on my back because the fabric was too hard to tear.
Joe got both barrels of her temper until I thought his ears would swell and drop off.
This memory has returned, because my daughter who lives next door, was playing a song I haven’t heard for a long time. It was one of my favourites, called Black Velvet.
It’s a funny old life isn’t it, the way old memories come back?
Anita Dawes 2018