The ceremony itself had been rather a blur to me —perhaps due to the numerous drinks my cousin had been pouring down me all afternoon while she was doing my hair and makeup.
Lynn had known I was nervous, but I don’t think she suspected what I had been wondering all day, what I’d been wondering for the past several days actually, longer even maybe…wondering if I was doing the right thing. But the plans had all been made; the church was reserved, gifts had been arriving for the past couple weeks, my dress had been bought and my bridesmaids’ dresses made, family and friends were in town, my parents had spent so much time and money on this wedding… I couldn’t back out still…could I?
I looked at the man wearing the blue Marine dress uniform standing beside me. He was only a boy, really, only a few months older than I, and when I was truly honest with myself, he wasn’t the sort I would have ever imagined as a husband. But those days of imagination and dreaming of someone who would never be mine were gone now, and best left to girlhood fantasy. This boy was here, and he had offered me an escape. Not good reasons to marry, I knew, but I would do my best with the choices I had made, and I would be the best wife I could be to him.
Friends and family came along the receiving line, people that I saw nearly every day, and others I hadn’t seen in many years. My God, my kindergarten teacher was even here! I accepted their congratulations and best wishes with a smile and a thank you, shaking hands and kissing cheeks.
‘It was such a lovely wedding.’
‘My, that’s quite a dress you’re wearing!’
‘Your friend and your mother both sang so beautifully.’
Then I saw him. He was standing on the far side of another friend from high school. He’d said he was going to wear white too, just in case I changed my mind at the last minute. I had thought he had only been joking, or that it was nothing more than a clever thing to say. He’d always been a big talker and had a flair for the dramatic. And besides, we’d never been ‘serious’ about each other, had we? It was all fun and games, wasn’t it? A fling. An affair. We had discussed this and had felt so adult that night before anything had really begun.
My nervousness grew as he walked closer. He was wearing a three-piece white suit like the one John Travolta had worn in the recent film, Saturday Night Fever. And he was a dancer too, so it looked good on him… I looked sidelong at my baby-faced groom, wondering if he had noticed, but he was deep in conversation with his best man who stood on his other side, and completely oblivious.
I smiled shyly at the young man in the white suit as he approached me. He took both my hands in his and we stood there looking at each other for what seemed like hours. In all the years we had known each other he had never looked at me like that before. We had never even exchanged so much as one word of love, yet we both knew that we did love each other, and that there was some deep bond between us.
It seemed deeper at that moment and I wondered if he could feel my trembling.
I looked into his eyes and saw the promise of a different future. It would be a life far removed from the ‘ordinary one I had agreed to in my recently spoken wedding vows. It would be a life facing the unknown, where two adventurous kids tired of the trappings of suburbia could defy convention. It would be a life where we could be free to explore all the possibilities available to us, and to make our own rules.
He said my name, barely above a whisper.
I was unsure of what to do and my mind raced. Part of me wanted to clasp his hand tightly and run for the door. Part of me wanted to chuck the last few hours, days, weeks, months and start anew. Part of me wanted to become a person I had barely imagined I could be.
But part of me was more rational. Or was that part of me just more afraid of the consequences of such an action? There was a church-full of my family and friends surrounding us, and there was also the boy at my side, his blue eyes matching his tunic. He’d asked me to marry him and I had said yes. I’d made a promise to him, and to all those witnessing our union.
The young man holding my hands looked at me for another moment. And I looked at him. Finally, deciding that I must do what was right, I smiled the smile I had given to all the others.
He nodded slightly, then he moved on.
My heart sank as I realized what I had lost in the choice I had just made. I watched with sadness as the boy in the white suit moved along the line, and away from me forever.
I smiled again as the next person moved to congratulate me.
I first wrote a version of this in late 2008 as a Flash Writing (a piece 500 words in length), for my Shared Words writing group. It was inspired by the prompt “Song Title,” hence part of the title being “Nice Day for a White Wedding.” After I thought about it more, I decided five hundred words weren’t enough to tell the story I wanted to tell, so I expanded it to the nearly nine hundred it is now. It is currently a “finished” piece, but someday I may expand on it and tell even more of the story of this girl and this boy, and the life together they never had.
Stay tuned every Saturday for new selections of ‘The Words.’ I have a lot to share. As always, PLEASE feel free to comment.