My bare feet slapped across the pathway as I ran. My hands gripping the long dress in an attempt to keep me from tripping. The further I ran from my fate, the lighter I felt.
I don’t know if I could face my parents after this, so I kept running.
*Earlier that day*
Spinning in front of the mirror, I could feel the hem brush my toes. Baby pink material flowed softly around me, sliding against my skin. A soft knock drew my attention towards the door. Creaking open slowly, the familiar brown-haired woman poked her head in the room before stepping inside fully.
“Oh, Yasmin, you look stunning.” Her old hands pulled me into a gentle hug.
“Thanks, mum, you look beautiful too.” My mother had aged well. She was in her early thirties when she had me, her only child, so now, even in her late forties, mum still looked like she had when she first had me.
“You like the dress? I wasn’t sure with all the lace flowers on the bodice.”
I spun once more towards the mirror; a smile stretched across my face. “Mum, it really is perfect, and I am so grateful but won’t it be too much? It is, after all, just my seventeenth?”
Still looking in the mirror, my eyes focused on the way my mum shifted uncomfortably, the jeweled hairpins holding a sudden interest for her.
“Yas, your father and I love you so much and want you to have everything you could ever possibly want.” A bright smile lighting her face, she stepped closer, placing a pin in my hair before gripping my shoulders, “And want young lady doesn’t want a pretty dress for her birthday party?” With a quick kiss to the back of my head, she turns for the door, only pausing after she had one foot outside my room. “Guest start to arrive in thirty minutes.”
By the time I had finished my hair and makeup, then slipped on my shoes, the noise of people laughing and talking mingled with the music downstairs.
Stepping cautiously down the staircase, the front door opened, the glare from outside temporarily blinding me.
“O.M.G Yas. Your gorgeous bitchface!”
The moment my feet hit the tiles at the bottom, I was almost knocked off balance. Claire, my best friend, had launched herself at me, arms wrapped tightly around my body, encasing my arms, so all I could do was pat her lower back.
“Claire, air is required to breathe.”
“Oh, shut it.” she laughed, stepping away and linking our arms. “Any hotties here?” she moved her eyebrows up and down as we walked towards the main room.
“I wouldn’t know, I just came downstairs. But knowing mum, she would have invited all the rich partners at her firm and made sure their ‘handsome single sons’ came along.” We both giggled as I failed at impersonating my mother’s voice.
Every chance she got, mum had been pushing me to meet the eligible sons off her business partners. I had refused. I had found out mum and dad believed I was old enough to find a steady partner to eventually marry.
Every female in our family on the father’s side had been married at eighteen. I had heard the stories my whole life about the one female in six generations who had refused to marry by the time she turned eighteen and was found dead the very next day. My dad’s family believed they had been cursed by a voodoo priestess, and somehow, they had convinced my mother of the curse, making her try to set me up with guys since I turned fifteen.
A slight tug on my arm drew my attention back to the room, crowded with strange people.
Claire and I walked arm in arm around the room, stopping to talk to a different guest. Stealing a quick break to the bathroom, I cornered Claire when she had finished using the toilet.
“Claire, did you notice anything weird with the guest?”
Water splashed in the sink as she washed her hands. “Yeah, they all had super-hot sons.” Her smile faltered when she noticed I wasn’t smiling with her. Drying her hands quickly, she grabbed ahold of my fingers. “Hey, what’s wrong, Yas?”
I was staring at the bedazzled slip-on shoes on my feet. The tips of my toes poking out of the top. “I think my parents are up to something. It is my birthday celebration, and yet none of my extended family is here. The whole house is filled with strangers who happen to have single sons. Also, earlier, mum was acting a little strange, almost like she was trying to hide something.”
My eyes darted up to meet hers, moving back and forth between them as I watch and take in what I was saying.
“You don’t think it has anything to do with the Bristol family curse, do you? Oh my god, Yas, that’s it. They are trying to hook you up with one of the guys.”
Dread filled my body. The realization hit me hard. How could my parents be so stupid as to believe in that dammed curse?
Curling my fingers into fists, I marched out of the bathroom, determined to confront both of them.
Stepping out into the hallway, rough fingers wrapped around the top of my arm and began pulling me towards the front of the room everyone was in. “Dad, what are you doing. I need to talk to you and mum.”
“We have been looking for you for five minutes Yasmin. Hurry up, your mother is waiting.” The tone of my dad’s voice told me not to argue. I knew he loved me, but being the successful businessman had somewhat hardened how he spoke to everyone, including me.
“Ah, and here she is, the beautiful birthday girl. Our daughter Yasmin.” The sound of my mother’s voice was followed by a room full of clapping people.
Pulled to my mother’s side, I stood wedged in between her and my father. His grip now tightening around my waist.
Clearing his throat, dad’s rich voice filled the room.
“Our family welcome you into our home tonight to celebrate our daughter Yasmin’s birthday. Every one of you has been valuable to the success of the company, and tonight we are pleased to celebrate another step forward in the Bristol family.”
I watched the faces in the crowd slowly fade away to a blurry mess as my father’s hand raises, and the waves someone towards us.
“Tonight, you were all asked to come here with an offer. We are happy to announce the highest offer place tonight was from the Ruby family. We are therefore happy to say their son Keith will be wed to our Yasmin.”
A large hand pushed me forward a step as another one gently held my hand.
Heart pounding, my focus landed on the hand grasping mine. I struggled to draw a lungful of air in. My head felt as if it were spinning. Looking over my shoulder back towards the hall, which leads to the bathroom, Claire stood, hands covering her mouth and tears staining her cheeks.
People around the room wore broad smiles while their hands franticly smacked together, but all I could hear was the loud thumping inside my chest.
Slowly I slipped off my shoes, and with one last look towards Claire, all I could do was mouth the word sorry before picking up the hem of the dress and running out the front door.