This story is by Audrey Julienne and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The slight breeze playing in the curtains creates shadows on the ceiling of the luxurious suite. The sun is already shining outside and Fanny can hear children playing by the pool. Their laughter fills her heart. It’s a beautiful day.
She pulls the soft sheet to cover her naked body, the breeze is giving her goosebumps. She closes her eyes, savoring the moment. It’s quiet. The ray of sunshine coming from the open window warms her arm. More goosebumps.
The sound of running water brings her back. She glances at the beautiful wedding dress lying on a chair. So many headaches, so much money, so much anticipation… All for that one day. “The most beautiful day of your life” they promised. Indeed, it was quite perfect. The flower arrangements were beautiful. The food was delicious. The champagne was flowing. And all the guests were having a good time.
She vowed to love that man for the rest of her life. That handsome fella who swept her off her feet when she met him a year ago. Who bought her dinners, flowers and jewellery. Who charmed her parents with his wit, his steady background and his comfortable income. Who delighted her friends with rounds of drinks, funny jokes and his way of making each of them feel very special. If this wasn’t Mister Right, who was? And now she committed in front of everyone to love and cherish that man until death do them part.
“Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.” Fanny stares at the gold band on her wedding finger. Only the beginning. There’s a tear running down her cheek. She lifts her arm to brush it off and notices a long blue mark between her wrist and her elbow. Damn. They’re having lunch with her parents in a few hours.
She remembers she brought a light cardigan. That will do. “I’ll just have to keep the sleeves down.”
For a minute, Fanny wonders whether her mom would even notice. When Jim is around, he’s all she seems to have eyes for. She can’t remember a moment when her mom looked as proud and happy as the day she announced Jim asked her hand in mariage. Her heart filled with joy that day. She was finally able to meet her mother’s expectations. She wasn’t a failure. She was getting married. And to a perfect man with that. Take that mom!
“You didn’t think I could do it, did you?” She can’t help but smiling cynically. “Well… Here we are!” She shrugs. A sharp pain pierces her shoulder and she shushes her own squeak. She needs to find pain killers before lunch.
Jim walks out of the bathroom. She can feel his stare on her but keeps her gaze down. It’s probably a better idea to let him talk first. Nervously, she pulls the sheet a little higher, trying to cover her bruised thigh. He is not saying a word. She slowly lifts her face toward him. He’s putting on gym shorts. He’s not even paying attention.
“I’m going out for a run” he says. “You should get ready, we’re meeting your parents for lunch, remember?” Fanny holds her breath as he gets closer and plants a kiss on her forehead. She’s stunned. Is the man she fell in love with really back? What happened to Mr. Hyde?
As soon as the hotel door closes behind him, a sudden silence seems to fill the room. Now what? Fanny sits on the bed, wraps herself in the sheet and walks to the window. Outside, the kids are still running around the pool, laughing. She looks at them with envy. Oh to be eight again… She shuts the window down and pulls the curtains. Darkness and silence. Everything is still. She lets herself slide on the floor at the bottom of the bed as she cannot contain her tears any longer.
“I can’t let that happen to me” she keeps repeating herself. “I’m not that girl.” She considers calling someone. Her mom? She can’t be that much of a disappointment to her, can she?… Her friend Dana? She would probably advice that Fanny packs her luggage and run. Would that be such a terrible idea? The police? They’d have a good laugh at yet another girl who got herself so wrapped up into a boy that she didn’t realize who he really was until she married him. Pathetic. She’s pathetic.
She needs a shower. A shower will help her think straight. She needs to wash all the memories from last night off her body. A clean slate. With a clean slate everything will be alright. She’ll be able to make sense of things and figure out her next move.
Standing in front of the bathroom’s mirror, she observes that woman staring back at her. She turns around. She barely notices the red mark left by Jim’s belt on her lower back, but she immediately notices a bulge under her shoulder blade. Will she ever be able to get rid of that back fat? She painfully brings her hair up in a loose ponytail, here again noticing that her upper arm could use a little weight lifting. She cringes. Her shoulder really hurts. Exercising will have to wait a little.
With the warm water from the shower, a sense of hope embraces her. “Things are going to be alright” she convinces herself. “I’m not that girl, I won’t let him do that to me.” Jim won’t be back for another hour, she has time to pack-up her stuff and get the hell out. She can almost feel the tingle of excitement in her stomach. She pictures herself getting into a plane, starting over in a new city, New York maybe, and making a life for herself. A life away from the monster she just married.
Her energy is back. There’s a way out. And it’s now. She needs to get out of here as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter where she is going, right now it’s a matter of survival. People will understand. Her mom will understand. With time, she’ll understand.
She untangles her hair in front of the mirror. She looks awful. She needs make-up. As Fanny fumbles through the small travel kit she packed, thinking she wouldn’t need much make up for her honeymoon activities, tears slowly creep back up in her eyes.
“How could I be such an idiot?” She hates herself for believing that she could be half of that picture-perfect couple, with the beautiful white wedding and the lovely flower arrangements. This is not for her. How could it be? She’s so much less than perfect. She can’t even keep her stomach completely tight in her pants. How do they call it again? A muffin top? And she hates muffins…
She couldn’t believe her luck when Jim chose her to be his wife. Is it really worth it to go through all that all over again? She sighs. Alone again. All the years of rejection after rejection, from men she hoped would care for her, resurface. Her heart sinks.
Maybe it was just a one time thing. Maybe it won’t happen again. After all, he was gentle this morning. Maybe last night can just be a bad memory they’ll bury with heaps of happy moments. Jim chose her, after all, he loves her. She can’t just give all that up without a fight. Oh the irony…
As she applies a touch of lipstick and fixes a strand of hair, Fanny hears the clic of the hotel room door opening. She pulls on the sleeve of her cardigan to cover her lower arm, and walks out of the bathroom with a smile.
“Did you have a good run?”