Tea Leaves and Red Silk

Red Wedding Part 1

Match Thirty: Red Wedding Part 1:

July eighth.

Judgement and execution day for Ju had arrived.

Ju would get married in three hours. Bik and Cai helped her get dressed in her mother's red wedding dress.

"You look really pretty," Cai whispered as she zipped up Ju's back. The bride couldn't explain this feeling in the pit of her stomach. She kept her lips pressed together. Even when Ju became dolled up with make-up and her hair put up in a high bun, the foreboding sat, watching from the corner of the room.

"Are you feeling okay?" Bik asked. "Miss? Miss?" The bride-to-be snapped out of her daze.

"Excuse me?" she asked.

"You're shaking," the nurse said.

Ju looked at her with a blank expression. "Huh?"

"Is it wedding nerves?"

Ju shook her head. "Oh, no, no. I'm fine. I was off in space."

The nurse didn't want to disagree with her today. The last thing they all needed was a really nervous Ju to back out of this arrangement Bik drew her mouth closed and shook her head.

"Never mind," she said. "You look beautiful today."

"Thank you," Ju said. Still, she couldn't bring herself to smile. Bik added the finishing touches.

"Done," she said. Ju silently gulped.

"Bik, Cai," she said. "May I be alone for a while?" Her voice trembled as she spoke. Cai opened her mouth, but Bik put her hand on her shoulder. The other woman eyed her as she shook her head. Cai bowed her head.

"We understand," she said. Ju sat at her vanity desk as the two ladies walked out of the room.


My mother's wedding dress made me feel so small. What am I doing? Still, I had no right to complain. I was the one who came up with this idea in the first place. My clan needed me to do this. I couldn't bring myself to tell Bik and Cai the truth, but they already see that I am not too eager for this.

My room was so quiet that I could hear my clock from what used to be my father's bedroom. The ticking made me what to get up and tear it off the wall. For some reason, my legs felt like jelly. No, something inside of me wouldn't let me get up. I love Yao and he has given me chances to back out of this impending marriage. Still, I wouldn't take it. He's probably waiting for me at the courthouse right now.

It's kind of funny once you broke it down. All I had to do was show up at the courthouse, say my vows, sign and stamp the paperwork, and I was married. It looked so simple to a normal person. But to me…

I closed my eyes.

The hangman's noose felt much closer than it was the first time I slept with Yao. I looked up and saw it swaying in the wind. I stood below dressed up in my mother's dress and wedding accessories with my hands chained behind my back. In the distance, I heard the horns calling the crowd to come and watch the execution. The guard pushed me forward to the steps.

"You can still run away," I heard someone whisper behind me. I turned my head and saw my thirteen-year-old self dressed in a black cloak and hood. She stood in front of a tunnel made of vines.

"There is still time," she whispered. "You can still run away from all of this. Come with me." I wanted to join her. Maybe I could be free, get from all that pushed upon me, live with my mind still intact. I still had the time. I could just break away. She was right, I still had time. Escaping felt so easy…

I shook my head. My thirteen-year-old self frowned.

"Why not?" she asked.

"I chose this path," I said.


"Look, as much I would love to be, it wouldn't work out. I have people who need me. I made a promise to the one that I love."

"But do you have to sacrifice yourself for them? What about our dreams? What about what we wanted?"

"You and I are different now. Things have changed since father died. I put away those dreams after I became clan leader." I noticed her eyes beginning to wail up. "Aw, don't cry, I will still be me."

My thirteen-year-old self wiped away her tears. "That's not why I'm crying."

"Then… what's wrong?"

"I'm going to miss you."

"What are you talking about? I'll still be here."

"Do you really love him?"

"I do."

My thirteen-year-old self lowered her head. "I understand. I won't forget you. Have a nice afterlife with him."

"I will."

She blew me a kiss goodbye as the guard pushed me up the wooden steps.

"Ju!" I heard someone yell in reality. I turned my head to see Bik standing in the doorway of my bedroom.

"It's time to go," she said. I bowed my head.

"Yes," I said. I got up and followed her to the waiting taxi parked outside. The ride to the courthouse took about an hour and a half. I stared out the window, feeling nothing inside of me. In my mind's eyes, I stood on the small platform under the noose. After today, I will no longer be Liao Ju.

By 9:45, the taxi pulled up to the courthouse. Bik held my dress as I climbed up. I pushed down my emotions as I walked up the stairs and went inside. Yao stood at the front desk with the wedding party, waiting for me. He held out his hand for mine.

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