Lyric Fiction: The Invitation

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The envelope was the opposite of engraved. The letters were raised, and they were shiny. And dark blue. The whole thing was totally out of her league. It was nothing like Lyric had ever seen, and Lyric considered herself pretty worldly at thirteen.

“Is there one for me, too?” Allegra asked, reaching for the rest of the mail.

“No,” Lyric said, staring glassy-eyed at the envelope. It was addressed to Miss Lyric Maker. It looked fancy, classy. And someone had sent it to her.

“Do you think it’s a joke?”

Lyric turned the envelope over. It was heavy in her hand, like the paper was really expensive. Melody had shown them fancy paper like this once. Lyric couldn’t remember why they were in a store that sold it, but they had been, and Melody had picked it up and let the girls touch it. The saleslady had frowned at them like they weren’t good enough to be touching such expensive stuff. Lyric had thrown her a defiant look and really felt the paper. Even under her fingertips, it had been weighty. And smooth, like ice.

The return address on the back was also blue and shiny and raised. It had a name Lyric recognized. Schwartz.

“It’s from Slippy.”

“Oh,” Allegra said. “No wonder I didn’t get one.” She turned away and flipped through the rest of the mail.

Lyric shrugged and tried to slide her finger under the flap, wanting to open it as gracefully and carefully as paper this rich deserved.

“I don’t know why you like her,” Allegra said. “She’s strange.”

“She’s just quiet. Once you get her talking, she’s really funny.” Lyric slid the pages out. There was a reply envelope, in the same lush cream color and with the same raised blue letters. It even had a stamp already on it. Tucked under the envelope’s flap was the reply card. It matched the envelopes, and it invited her to a special dinner dance. There were lines where she could pick if she wanted steak, chicken, or a special vegetarian meal.

“What is this?” Lyric asked, handing the reply card to Allegra. Her twin looked at it and shrugged.

There was a bigger piece of paper, too. One with a piece of tissue paper covering it. Lyric took away the tissue paper and looked at the paper underneath. A silver piece of paper had been glued between two pieces of the cream: one bigger and one smaller. The smaller one had writing on it, inviting Lyric to the Bat Mitzvah of Tziporah Hadassah Schwartz.

“Ooh,” Allegra said. “Religion. Think Mom’ll let you go?”

“Go where, girls?” Melody said, walking through the door. Her purse swung on her wrist and she wore oversized Jackie Kennedy sunglasses. And a plastic rain bonnet over her bottle blonde hair even though it wasn’t raining. It completed the look, so it was necessary.

Allegra snatched the invitation and ran over to Melody with it. “A Bat Mitzvah?” Melody asked, her eyebrows shooting upwards. “They invited someone from our family to a religious event? Are they aware of who we are?”

“Slippy’s been telling me about it,” Lyric said. “She’s been studying for almost a year and she gets to read from this sacred book. She says it’s a big deal. I’m glad she wants me to see it.”

And then it came. The question neither twin had wanted to face. “Why you, honey? They’re not,” Melody paused and turned her head so she could give Lyric a sidelong look, “going to make fun of my princess, are they?”

“I don’t think so, Mom. Slippy and I are … well, we’re not friends. But we talk. And she’s nice. I like her.”

“Do you think they know who you are?”

“Mom,” Allegra said, “how could they address an envelope to Lyric Maker and not know who she is? C’mon. Everyone on the planet knows who we are.”

“I want to go,” Lyric said quietly. “I like Slippy, and maybe this is a chance to show them that the Maker girls aren’t all trashy sex people. That we’re respectable, just like everyone else.”

“To a religious event!” Melody screeched, her hand to her chest and her eyes wide, like this was the most outrageous thing she’d ever heard.

“Why not?” Lyric said, ignoring the show. If she got sucked in, she’d forget what she wanted, and then Mom would win and Lyric wouldn’t get to see Slippy doing this chanting thing she’d been talking about. Lyric had too many questions to miss out on being there. Would Slippy fall into a trance? Would something majestic happen? What did a … what was the sort of place where this was happening?

Lyric took the invitation back and read it again. Temple Beth El. It sounded harmless enough. She even knew where it was.

“You’re sure?” Melody asked.

Lyric nodded. “You’re always saying that if people would take the time to get to know us, they’d realize there’s more here than porn flicks.” She held the invitation up. “Here’s the chance to show them.” She looked at the words again, the fancy, shiny blue letters, the cream paper, the muted silver middle layer. It screamed of taste and class and all those other things that the Maker girls were supposed to be missing. “Maybe Slippy and her mom will take us shopping, Mom. Show us what to wear to Temple Beth El?”

“Temple Beth El?” Allegra said, tilting Lyric’s hand so she could read the invitation upside down. “What’s an El?”

“Who’s Beth?” Melody asked.

“I bet Harmony will wish there’s a Temple Harmony El,” Allegra said.

The three of them looked at each other and started to laugh.

“We’ve got a lot to learn,” Melody said. “Let’s get busy.”

“How?” Lyric asked.

Melody plucked the invitation out of Lyric’s hands. “We start by calling this Tziporah’s mother and explaining that you’d love to come, but we don’t know the customs and would she be kind enough to help out.”

“Her family’s pretty religious, Mom,” Allegra said.

“Not so religious that they are leaving Lyric out. That’s a start,” Melody said.

“They might try to convert you,” Allegra told Lyric, who shrugged. “What’ll you do if they try?”

“Listen and learn,” Melody said. “And come back home and tell us everything!”

Usually, posts involving Melody and her girls have to do with the fact that Melody Maker is not a music magazine but a famous porn star. This week’s Sunday Scribblings Prompt took my thoughts in a different direction. I sort of like it, particularly Temple Harmony El. And Tziporah’s nickname of Slippy.

Follow this link to learn more about Lyric and her family.

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