Augustine fell to the ground, peals of laughter incapacitating him.
“What?” snapped Ida.
“You may not realize it, but that dress is not business attire.”
She looked down at it. It looked like a conservative power dress, if such a thing could exist. Red. Form fitting, low bodice, cut out sleeves, hip hugging fabric down to her thighs. I’m rockin’ this thing! “What’s wrong with it?” she demanded.
“You’re dressed for a dinner night in,” JJ explained, seeing their younger brother was too embarrassed to be loving and adroit.
Ida stared at JJ blankly.
Ida’s blank stare remained.
“With your husband.”
Ida shook her head. “I don’t get it. What’s wrong with looking feminine?”
“Uh . . . nothing. But do you want every man you meet to have to not think about having sex with you?”
“What’s wrong with that? If they can’t control themselves that’s their problem. Certainly, it’s not mine!”
“Is that how little you think of yourself?”
Ida stiffened, her voice cold. “What. Do. You. Mean.” Accusation laced her voice and there was no question.
Undaunted, JJ continued, “You think so little of yourself that you use your body to get attention, in a way that ought to be only for your husband?” JJ glanced toward Simon.
“Just because I’m a woman?” Ida snapped.
JJ removed his jacket and placed it over her bare shoulders.
“Sis . . . I’ve never seen you in that dress or anything like it before you walked seductively through those doors. I don’t think you realize that every man you meet will have great difficulty seeing you as the strong woman you are rather than an object of temptation. You are a walking near-occasion-of-sin. You should treat yourself and the men and women you’ll meet today with more dignity than that. You are revealing treasure meant only for Simon. You, also, along with your marriage, deserve better than you revealing nearly your whole treasury of femininity outside the privacy of the sanctity of your marriage. You are objectifying yourself to the world.”
Ida looked to Simon for support.
“He’s got a point, Ida, my love. Seeing you in that dress, I want to be alone with you. I kind of liked the idea of every guy seeing you that way and every woman wishing they were you, but isn’t that supposed to be for you and me, alone? Do you really want to objectify yourself so that lust and envy are a hidden part of every interaction you have?”
Without a word, Ida stomped off. Simon thought about following her but wisely decided to give her some space. Augustine recovered from seeing his sister in that dress and the three men waited in silence. When Ida returned she wore a mid-calf dark blue A-line dress. It had a high neck and collar and sleeves to just above her elbow. She silently tossed JJ his jacket, ripped in three.
“Three-piece suit’s overdressing a bit, aye big bro?” Augustine quipped.
“Small price to pay, Auggie. Small price.”
(Editor’s Note: Continuing once a month for the next several months, the Herald is featuring excerpts from “Ecsodus Vision,” a novella by Deacon Patrick Jones. Below is Chapter 11 of the novella. To read Chapters 1-11 in their entirety, visit www.apubz.com/pubz/CCH/Ecsodus/index.html