Donnie was late.
The guests were already seated in Church, waiting and she was ready to go. But Donnie, her careful and methodical fiancé who couldn’t sleep until he’d set the alarm clock thrice, was late to his own wedding.
Who would have seen this coming?
She gestured for another shot of tequila – the fourth – and tried to ignore her trembling fingers. ‘Still not responding?’
Betty shook her head no, anxious eyes fixed on her phone screen. ‘Don’t worry, sis. He’ll be here any moment from now.’
Two potential disasters had already been averted. The wedding cake maker had called 4 days ago to say her custom-ordered green and gold filigree was stuck in Leeds, meaning the cake might arrive late – thankfully, it came in the night before. Then the officiant, Donnie’s friend Mike, missed his flight from Aberdeen that morning but, fortunately, caught another flight and still arrived in time to accompany the first guests into the Church.
And now this.
She furtively slid a pink and white capsule between her lips, chased it with a sip from her glass. More antihistamines and alcohol had probably slipped down her throat in the past three days than in the last one week. But it was all she could do to keep from cracking under the toll of the past few days.
Although the room was being cooled by an AC, she felt nervous perspiration trickle down her back and under her arms.
He couldn’t be dead, could he? No, not today he couldn’t be. He’d better be… before I set my eyes on him.
She felt a handkerchief dab delicately at her neck. ‘Don’t worry, Kate. He probably forgot his phone at home in his hurry and might be caught in traffic.’ Betty said.
But Donnie was only half her worry. Her pink and white pills lasting the day was the other half.
‘Time to go, Kate!’ Betty gestured excitedly. ‘He’s just arrived!’
Kate downed the last of her tequila and got up, angry and relieved at once.
‘Just a minute, darling.’ Betty refreshed her lipstick, and adjusted her veil. ‘Yes, all perfect now.’
The Church was already full when they arrived. Fresh sweat broke under her arms and chin as a mix of expectant and few impatient faces turned at her entrance. Jim, her uncle, smiled and offered his arm at the door. ‘My gorgeous girl!’
Donnie and the officiant were smiling at her as Jim walked her down the aisle. And she thought: Oh gosh, they’ll both smell the alcohol on my breath and –
That’s when her eyelids began to itch madly. Then her neck, back, everywhere.
She fought the urge to scratch, tears of embarrassment stinging the corners of her eyes as her final steps brought her to the altar.
‘You look beautiful, darling-’ Donnie began, and then trailed off, his eyes widening slightly.
Even if she wanted to fake it, her lips were beyond any smile of appreciation or bravery; they were puffed to almost twice their size. Angry tears spilled across her cheeks, white rivulets that ran down to shoulders darkening with furious red welts.
Her eyes swollen half shut, narrowed further with anger. ‘You are late.’ It was an accusation for everything going wrong at that moment.
His lips began to tremble, open and shut as words tried to form into, perhaps, an apology or an explanation of circumstances beyond his control. She didn’t know, and would never know. She smacked him across his lips, right there on the altar, in front of exactly 105 guests.
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