The Parcel by Georgia McLellan

There was a knock at the door. It was dark, cold and dreary yet the house was warm. A short woman with a body painted in wrinkles and a dress layered with colours approached the door. It was snowing outside, and the icy carpet had completely covered her wooden home. Before her, wrapped in brown paper and frost was a parcel. A parcel labelled ‘Olga’. The old woman picked up the package in her trembling hands and slowly walked to the kitchen.

In the light of an oil lamp she could see clearly, however she did not like what she saw. Her heart plummeted and her face went pale. She recognized the handwriting at once. She trembled with fear as the parcel which she held was from Dmitri, her son. The woman had disowned her son six years ago and had not spoken of him or too him ever since. As she sat at the lonely table with a lingering silence around her she was brought back to distant memories. She had dismissed her son from her life all those years ago but he was not missing from her heart. He had disobeyed her wishes, treated her beloved traditions like trash and threw her advice out of his head.

They fought and fought and their love grew further apart – until he was too much for her to cope with. She disowned him and his modern life and in return he moved to Berlin to study law instead of farming. Yet all these years later he sends her a parcel. She cringed and sat in deep thought for what seemed like hours until she came to the decision not to open it. It was placed in a large wooden cabinet on the far side of her living room. It was to stay there and never be seen again. The following days came with much grievance.

It was like a tremendous burden in her life. She spent her lonely days with the parcel permanently in her mind. Weeks passed as well as many sleepless nights until her curiosity had gotten the better of her. She had to open it. It was late at night and still snowing but it was always warm in her home. She wandered into the fire lit living room and placed the key to the cabinet in the palm of her hands. Her mind raced but she forced herself to do it.

She held the paper package in her hands. It was cold but she was next to the open fire. Through watery eyes she opened the parcel. Folded neatly was a beautiful traditional Russian dress laden with bright colourful fabric and beads. It was a replica of a dress she wore as a young woman, back when her traditions meant something to the people around her.

She sobbed into the fabric but as her tired hands wrapped around the dress she felt something rough. It was a piece of paper written in the same familiar handwriting. It was a small card delicately decorated with a beautiful photo of a woman with long wavy blonde hair and a man with big hazel eyes. Big eyes like her own. She smiled at her son but how he had changed. She turned over the card – on the back, in beautiful curly handwriting it read:

Dear Olga Konstantinov,
You are invited to Miss Andrea Drechsler and Mr Dmitri Konstantinov’s wedding
On 14th April, one o’clock
At Blume Garten House, Berlin
More details to follow, we will be grateful if you can make it to our special day
Lots of love

Dmitri and Andrea Xx

Her hands trembled and she cried into the paper. After all these years, after she disowned him and treated him poorly, after she shouted at him over the phone – he was inviting her to his wedding. She didn’t even know who this woman was but she was overjoyed with his kindness. She presumed the beautiful dress was for her to wear to the celebration.

That night she slept well. When dusk came upon her home she was in a delightful mood yet she still was unsure if she would attend. It would be so risky but she longed to hear his soft voice in her tired ears once more. Days passed but she had not come to a decision. On April the 10th she sat with a broken heart holding the dress. If she was to leave, she was to leave now.

She knew what was right and she was going to be brave enough to do it. Nervously, she put the traditional dress on the kitchen table and left the house with a small bag and a long red shawl. It was, as always cold outside her house but she couldn’t care less. Her mind was buzzing and her stomach churned the whole way to the airport. She had not flown in a plane in 32 years and was not prepared for the vast amount of modernisation aboard the vehicle. They arrived at Berlin the following day. The city was not to her liking, after all, she was used to the small snowy village in which she was raised.

Before she found a hotel or got something to ease her hunger she strolled into a small clothes shop coming off of a large shopping centre. It was sweet and quaint but she barely noticed the interior, just scanned the rails for something modern and stylish in hope her son would approve. She chose a small blue dress with a dark blue suit jacket and left in search for somewhere to stay. She spent the following days in the hotel room – too frightened to enter the big city. Finally, on 14th April she pulled on her modern clothes. These garments were far from her colourful traditional gown but she did not care.

She made her way across the street, approaching a taxi which took her right to the doorstep of Blume Garten House. Outside was decorated with white flowers and blue ribbons. She was not prepared to see her son again – or her now, daughter- in -law but she forced her worried self into the grand building.

It was crowded and busy with people chatting and laughing in all aisles of the church – dressed in bright colours and beautiful fabrics. She made her way to a seat at the far back and sat down avoiding the other guests. When, suddenly the wooden doors flung open and two smartly dressed men came in, her heart skipped a beat. As one of those men, all grown up, was her son – his face as happy and content as she remembered. He scanned the crowd then spoke to the other man.

On the far wall huge banners rolled out – decorated with the traditional Russian drawings she had had at her own wedding. Things were moving too fast for her elderly mind to realize. When suddenly the sweet sound of the piano echoed around the chapel, bouncing of the walls – it was a famous Russian piece which she knew so well. Only was she truly taken a back when the beautiful bride- to-be came down the aisle, her hand grasped nervously around her proud father. The bride was dressed in the most dazzling Russian dress which resembled the very dress her son had given her in the parcel.

After all the quarrelling and hurt her own son had transformed the church into a fascinating Russian chapel with all the traditions he had despised so much. Her heart leapt and she began to cry, he had done all this without even knowing if she’d turn up. She watched as her son looked around desperately in search for her yet she knew he’d never see her in her new clothes.

Only once the wedding had come to an end did he recognize her. She stood – still and silent as his gaze caught hers. She had changed her old ways for her son and he had remembered his for his mother. Things would finally be at peace.