This story is by Joya Williams and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My senses were overloaded. I could hear voices but I barely knew what they were saying. I could smell the sweet scent of flowers everywhere and an array of soft coloured petals adorned the room. On some level, I blocked it all out. It felt like the blurred background of an Instagram picture instead of real life. There was only one thing that remained in focus. The one thing that I was truly conscious of. The light bounced off the intricate beading on the bodice of the wedding dress that lay luxuriously across the bed. It was a soft almost gold colour. I didn’t want white. I wanted warmth and light and softness. I knew the first time I saw it, that it was meant for me. It gave me a feeling of joy to know that when I put this dress on, Dillon would be waiting for me. For us to start our life together. Closing my eyes, I saw his face and I smiled.
“Charlene, are you okay?” I heard a voice ask but I tried to ignore it and hold on to the happy feeling. I felt a sharp jab in my side.
“Ouch!” I yelled and opened my eyes to see my cousin Leslie standing beside me with an evil grin on her face.
“Snap out of it, beauty queen. It’s time to get ready. You’ve been standing here in ‘la la’ land long enough,” she said and stuck her tongue out. We both laughed and I allowed myself to be primped and pressed and dressed and twirled until I looked like a bride to be. There were ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and sniffles as six of the women I loved the most, tried to hold back their tears so as not to ruin their makeup. Someone pulled me in front of the full-length mirror and I stared in amazement at the beautiful woman staring back at me. Her hair was a soft halo of curls adorned with a single pale pink flower just above her left ear. Her cocoa-coloured skin glowed in the sunlight that peeked through the large windows. Beautifully glossed lips with the just the hint of a smile and tawny coloured eyes that hid the feeling of awe that she felt.
“You look beautiful,” a woman’s voice said. My mother’s face came into focus behind me as we both smiled at each other in the mirror. I squeezed the hand that she rested lovingly on my shoulder.
“Thank you. For everything,” I said feeling breathless. I knew she understood that it was about more than just her compliment. She had been with me every step of the way in the planning of this day. She kept me sane when things got complicated. The room was filled with women who had always supported me. My mom, Leslie, Aunt Trudy, and three of my closest friends, Filomena, Desiree and Tasha. I couldn’t imagine getting married with even one of them missing. I felt my eyes starting to burn.
“None of that sweetheart, you’ll ruin your makeup,” my mother said.
“Yes ma’am,” I said. I straightened my shoulders and smiled.
“That’s better. Now let’s get going,” she said. She studied me for a few more seconds then nodded as if she was happy with what she saw. After that she clapped her hands to get the attention of the other ladies.
“Okay, we are officially 30 minutes late. We are not trying to keep all those wonderful people waiting a minute longer. It’s time to get my baby married.” There was a cacophony of voices in agreement and excited hoots and hollers as they crowded around me protectively and gave last-minute advice. I allowed myself to be coddled and fussed over and nodded my head to everything they said. I felt so loved and so grateful. There was a knock at the door and a head popped in. It was Mikey, the best man and Dillon’s best friend. His hair freshly cut and his smile was as wide as a smile could be.
“Ladies, I’ve been asked to remind you that we are running behind and to see if you are in need of assistance.” All of this was said in a very formal voice that made us giggle like we were still in high school.
“No thank you Mikey, I think we’re ready,” I said as I took one last look in the mirror.
“Okay, ladies let’s go!” My mother, the general was in full form. The flurry of flowing dresses, bouquets and perfume moved through the door at her command. Mikey clearing the way to avoid being run over.
Suddenly, I found myself marching at an unhurried pace to Maxwell’s dulcet tones as familiar and unfamiliar faces watched me. The only face I watched was Dillon’s.
Most of the night flew by.
Our family and friends danced until the early hours of the morning. I didn’t remember much, but I did remember Dillon’s smiling face and how much I loved seeing it.
I remember how much my feet hurt and the feeling of relief as I stepped out of them and felt the cold tile underneath.
The limousine drove us toward our new lives. We could barely keep our eyes open.
“Happy?” He said as he smiled at me.
“Very,” I said and smiled back at him.
“I can’t wait to get home and start our lives as Mr. and Mrs. Collins,”
“I still can’t believe we’re married,” I said. I played with the wedding band on my finger. “Seems like a fairy tale.”
“It’s not a fairy tale, but this is going to be our happily ever after,” he said as she took my hand in his and intertwined his fingers with mine. I giggled.
“Okay fine. That was a bit much,” he admitted. “But this is the start of our married life together and intend to make it a very happy one. You, Mrs. Collins are going to be a very happy wife.” I smiled at that. I knew we would have our rough patches. What marriage didn’t? But I appreciated the sentiment so much.
“I love you Mr. Collins.” I turned to face him and pressed my lips to his. Our kiss was so gentle, so loving, it made me want to cry. The kiss ended as the limo pulled into the driveway of our new house. The driver opened the door for us.
“Have a good night,” he called as he drove away. I was tired but happy and couldn’t wait to be alone with my husband. We didn’t leave for our honeymoon until two days later, so we could sleep in tomorrow. Dillon and I travelled up the walkway hand in hand. He unlocked the door.
“Welcome home Mrs. Collins,” he said and we both smiled. Then to my surprise, he scooped me up into his arms. I gasped.
“What are you doing?”
“Carrying you over the threshold obviously,” he said and wiggled his eyebrows.
We were laughing so much at that point and he kicked the door shut.
“Put me down before you hurt yourself,” I said. He set me down gently and kissed me again. Like a fairy tale. I sighed. The doorbell rang. It startled us both.
“We probably forgot something in the limo,” Dillon said as he swung open the door. “Hey, what did she for…” It wasn’t the driver. It was a woman in a long black trench coat. It was almost 5am.
“Can we help you?” I called out from behind Dillon’s back. He hadn’t spoken. He was obviously as surprised as I was. I watched in astonishment as she brushed past Dillon and walked right in.
“You’re trespassing,” she said. Her eyes were dark and dangerous. One of her very manicured eyebrows raised as she looked at me as if she was challenging me to what, I wasn’t sure.
“Excuse me?” Maybe she was crazy. There was definitely something unbalanced about her.
“You don’t belong here. This is my house. Isn’t that right Dillon?” She spoke over her shoulder, never taking her eyes off me. I looked at Dillon and everything about him had changed. He looked ashen, downtrodden. He hadn’t said a word since he opened the door.
“Dillon, what’s going on? Who is this woman?” The look on his face made my stomach churn. I regretted the extra glass of champagne from the night before. There was a sensation of hot and cold that spread over my skin. I wanted her to go away. “Dillon?” He was crying. Silent tears on his face.
“She’s… my wife.” He was sobbing now as this woman stood there smiling. She was beautiful and ugly at the same time. Dillon was wrong. This was a fairy tale and she was the wicked villain.
But for me there would be no happy ending.