This story is by W L Townsley and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Cupid
I have now sunk to a new low.
I am staring at myself wondering how I ended up in this nightmare of a dress for someone who hasn’t spoken to me in three years or more except to say, “Pass the deviled eggs” or “It’s nice seeing you … Maeve, right?” at our family gatherings. You can tell we are close with my mother’s family.
“Remind me again why I am standing in front of this mirror wearing a retro strapless, tangerine orange bridesmaid’s dress with a mini bubble skirt?”
“Maeve, we talked about this. Family wedding competition is important and to have more bridesmaids than her sister, Jenna-Lee needed you.” This explanation was coming from my best friend Deena while her mother, Sarah, and Mavis were trying not to laugh. (My mother will probably fall out of heaven laughing if she is seeing me.)
My life is good in every other aspect except love and romance. I now look like the Great Pumpkin in the Charlie Brown special. Thank goodness there isn’t any room for a huge satin bow. I sighed, turned around so I didn’t have to look at myself and wondered where I went wrong.
I remember it so well. It was a crisp, beautiful September morning, one of those days you want to be outside in North Carolina because the humidity is low and the temperature wasn’t supposed to get out of the low seventies. Deena and I hadn’t been back in the United States for more than two months when my cousin, Jenna-Lee, came bouncing into my house with an excited smile. “Maeve! I’m getting married! I AM SO EXCITED!!”
I was really surprised because I didn’t know she knew where I lived. I enjoy renovating old homes and sometimes even historical estates so when my father told me the Allen Estate in the middle of Wilson was for sale, I jumped on it. I am currently living in the newly renovated caretaker’s cottage while work is being done on the main house and grounds. When Jenna-Lee came bouncing in unannounced, I was working on rezoning paperwork to turn this into a venue space but I digress.
“Jenna-Lee I am happy for you. Who is the lucky guy? Is it Sam? Last time I heard you two were getting serious.” I was getting a little worried because she seemed to be sizing me up.
“YES! The love of my life and I are getting married in October. It will be a Princess Diana style wedding with ten bridesmaids and groomsmen, two flower girls, and ring bearers and I am arriving at the church in a white horse-drawn carriage.” Now comes the punchline.
“You must be one of my bridesmaids! I cannot imagine my wedding without you!” Jenna-Lee has a malicious glint in her eye so I know she is trying to one up her sister Emma-Mae.
“I am not sure I will still be here in October but thanks so much for asking. My agent called me yesterday to let me know she has set up a book tour of Europe. I know you can ask someone else to take my place. They are probably lining up to be in this wedding.” I am smiling and praying I am not struck by lightning. Ester, my agent will be dancing as soon as I call her because I normally refuse to tour. To avoid this wedding, I will willingly tour in ISIS occupied territory since that would be less humiliating. This is Jenna-Lee’s fifth wedding and each one gets more extravagant. Sam isn’t from here so he doesn’t know her reputation of “marry in haste and take them for everything.”
“MAEVEEEE!! I need you! I want family around me this time. Sam is the one I want to spend the rest of my life being a partner with. He is a wonderful, steady, handsome man and I cannot wait to be his wife.” She teared up and screeched my name so of course I caved and prayed this dress isn’t as ugly as the previous ones. Therapy was needed after wedding number three known as “Gone with Jenna-Lee and Tim” in her Tara-inspired theme. The only consistent thing with each wedding is her love of tangerine orange. I look like death in this color so I have a feeling I will be wearing it again.
“Maybe you will meet the love of your life at my wedding. I have such good vibes for this one. There will be plenty of eligible men.” Jenna-Lee hugged me, pressed an appointment card for Vintage Weddings in my hand and danced out of the house. As she was leaving, I heard her on the phone telling her sister how I was going to be in her wedding when I wasn’t in Emma Mae’s fourth one.
Now you know why I was standing in front of a mirror wearing a butt-ugly bridesmaid dress wondering if I could fake an illness and get out of this farce of a wedding.
Deena stops snickering and said, “I read your tarot cards this morning and they say you are in the right spot for romance.”
“I left Jeremy in Europe with my chances of romance so I think the cards are wrong. I haven’t heard from him since I left so the USS Romance has probably sailed.” I turned back to the mirror wondering why anyone would want a dress with a bubble mini skirt and strapless bodice. I looked like a pasty-faced, linebacker in drag. I am five ten without heels; have naturally curly hair and a large bone frame. Jenna-Lee is five two if that tall and very dainty and petite. Her tiny body hides a mercenary and determined personality. Just ask any ex-boyfriend or husband. Vanessa, the shop owner just handed me a pair of three-inch tangerine orange dyed satin bridesmaid shoes then excused herself. I could hear her laughing hysterically in the back room.
“He is a good man and you shouldn’t judge him based on your dead husband, Mason. It’s not Jeremy’s fault Mason decided to start dating more after you got married. You two will be happy together if you just give him a chance.” Deena put her arms around me after saying that to stop me from seeing her laugh. I felt her shaking while hugging me. I wanted to cry at my appearance but many people love a clown.
“Well, it is all over now. He didn’t want a commitment. I did. Now standing here in this dress, I think I made a mistake leaving Ireland. A very big mistake.” I left the stage and go get changed.
Back at home wishing, I had never left Ireland, my phone rings while I am fixing a sandwich. I didn’t look down before I answered. “Hello?”
“Maeve. How are you?” It was Jeremy.
It couldn’t be him. Why am I not hearing the Twilight Zone music? Over two months and not a word.
“Open the front door. I’m out front.” Did he just say he was outside my door?
“No. We said everything that needed to be said before I left. Goodbye.” I hung up the phone, expecting to not feel anything and I was so wrong. I couldn’t stop thinking about having his arms around me, feeling his strong heartbeat, seeing his smile and inhaling his scent. Instead, I am in my kitchen putting the knife in the sink and trying to screw the lid back on the Duke’s mayo jar through my tears.
Someone started hammering on the door and screaming my name. I hoped it wasn’t Jeremy because I wasn’t ready to see him. When I finally opened the front door there was Jeremy, the love of my life, standing on my doorstep wearing a butt-ugly, tangerine orange colored strapless bubble mini skirt bridesmaid dress with a sign in his hands saying, “Marry me and I will always love you, even in ugly dresses.”
It is the Great Pumpkin, Cupid. You can believe it is true love when someone can see beyond that God-awful dress.