Anabella detested olive drab as much as she hated mean-spirited people. She rammed her hands into her business suit pockets, so she wouldn’t bitch slap or fling the so-called bridal expert with the ugly green-colored eyes in front of her into the nearby mannequin wearing the Alfred Angelo gown sumptuously decorated with organza and net flange ruffles. Anabella held her tongue and kept her composure.
She stood tall. “Stand upright like someone is pulling you up with a string in the middle of your head like a puppet. Be confident, especially in the eye of difficulties, dear.” Anabella recalled her mother’s command that she had grown up with.
“I’ll return when Nanette is back.”
“She won’t be back. She was fired.”
Anabella felt her cheeks redden. She wrung her hands now out of her pockets. “I don’t understand. She was here for years. Who are you anyway?”
“The owner pulled me from the other store in Manchester.” After a slight pause, the saleswoman further elaborated. “Listen, like I said, I’m sure you’re a lovely woman. But for you to come in here and try on the latest wedding dresses is ridiculous. There is no date. Nanette was fired because she spent more time with wannabe brides like you than with the true brides-to-be, and we lost money. I don’t mean to burst your bubble young lady, but without an engagement ring and wedding date, you are wasting your time and my time, and the shop is losing money.”
Anabella was completely unprepared for the missile that the middle-aged stranger launched. “This is the year. I know that for a fact. I will have my proposal and my ring.”
Behind Anabella, the front door chimed and a pair of giggly women entered Belovely Bridal Boutique, piercing the air with a sense of urgency.
The saleswoman waved at the new arrivals knowingly, then said hastily to Anabella, “I’ve been in this business for twenty-five years. Like I told you before, after four years of living together, a thirty-year-old man with a steady job has no excuse. He simply is not going to marry you. I know the type; used car salesmen who want to get rid of what they feel are shoddy goods, but don’t have the guts to do it. He’s still playing the field. Probably playing around. I know it hurts, dear, but it’s better you dump him now. Find a real man. Then come back to the shop, and I’ll take proper care of you. Meanwhile, I call your type the ‘eternal girlfriend.’ Do you know how many eternal girlfriends I’ve set straight in life?... Most of them ended up getting married later on, and thanking me for their turn of fate.”
The shrew of a woman turned away eager to help the customers who were impatiently waiting and obviously had an appointment for a true bride-to-be. Anabella’s burning tears welled up in her hazel blue eyes. Arms flapping angrily, she stormed out of Belovely Bridal Boutique as the door slammed behind her. Fuck that bitch! Ryan would never cheat on her. He was always faithful and committed to the relationship.
Shoddy Goods. The SOB had a lot of nerve insinuating something like that. Who did that old bitch think she was? Granted, Anabella was a little thick, but the woman in the shop was a wildebeest compared to her. And, the woman was old, looking like five miles of bad road. She was jealous of Anabella, for sure. And, she resented Anabella’s youth. The damn woman had to be at least fifty-five. Thirty years older than Anabella, older than her own mother. Why, for God’s sake, would a bridal shop employ such a nasty, old woman? The woman, too, probably never got married herself and resented everyone who did. Of course! The old bitch’s life revolved around victimizing young, innocent, blushing brides in her inferno of envy.
Worst of all, Anabella felt duped. Nanette had neglected to inform Anabella about her termination; but on second thought, it could have been a sudden development, and the sacked bridal shop employee had no time to tell anyone. On the other hand, Nanette certainly had the time and gall to blab the details to the bridal boutique’s witch about Anabella and her relationship with Ryan.
Eternal girlfriend. How dare she? Anabella’s feelings of rage erupted like a downpour of hail. Well, the hateful saleswoman wouldn’t get away with it. No way. She would regret the day she laid those ugly green eyes on Anabella. Once Anabella returned to the office, she would call the owner of the shop and do everything possible to get the old hose bag fired.
Freaking bitch. Little did the soon-to-be-unemployed cunt realize that although Anabella had lived with Ryan for four years, this year he would propose. He started working out at the gym once more. His love handles had disappeared. He coiffed his hair and cruised with a new confidence. This year would truly, really, without a doubt, be the year.
Three years ago, Anabella first entered Belovely’s double glass doors into its stream of bright overhead lighting and pastel colors. She was twenty-two years old, svelte and naive and a first-time bridesmaid. Now, the adage, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” defined her life. She’d been a bridesmaid more times than she could count on one hand.
Over time, she’d lost touch with the brides, all friends from high school, that she had attended to on the day of their weddings. However, she never threw off the bridal bug that bit her, and Anabella became a regular window-shopper at Belovely, where she and Nanette ceaselessly planned for her big day with Ryan. Her future groom was five years older than her, and she had met him shortly after she graduated from Johnson State College in Vermont, where she earned her useless bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
The best thing about her four years living on campus was that she, to her mother’s dismay, moved away from Burlington, her hometown.
“You should go to the University of Vermont. Everyone goes there. You couldn’t find a better school; why in God’s name would you want to bring yourself down so many notches by going to a hillbilly place like Johnson?” Her mother’s flat, insistent drone of a voice had fallen on Anabella’s deaf ears.
After she graduated college and moved back home, Ryan turned out to be on the landscaping crew Anabella’s mother had hired for the summer. Within two months, Anabella had moved in with him and started working the same admin job she still held. Secretly she wondered if her sudden move was prompted by her independent streak and her mother’s nagging more than by her feelings for Ryan. Nonetheless, she later landed him a job at her company, only for him to quit six months later complaining about the low pay. Anabella maintained the role of breadwinner while Ryan took a two-year hiatus to figure out how to start a successful business of his own. Though Ryan held a business degree from the University of Vermont, she had business smarts that rivaled his own. He himself had told her this all the time. In fact, he promised her that once he got a business rolling, she would quit her job and become the company’s operations manager. His goal was financial freedom, which he believed would assure the couple a bright future. He swore that his mother and father and her mother and father had ended up getting divorced because of financial strain. The greatest terror of Ryan’s life was divorce.
With the proper planning, the world was their oyster. The couple had gone so far as selecting a pair of 14 karat yellow gold, diamond Celtic knot design wedding bands to their wish list. The day after they had window shopped for rings at the jewelry store, Ryan clasped a silver unified heart design necklace around Anabella’s neck as a surprise and a deeper sign of his commitment. They shared everything, including his and hers monogrammed pillowcases, a love for William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney, a loathing for olive drab but a preference for everything Kelly green. For Christ’s sake, Anabella did everything for Ryan, even jeopardized her career and did something that was so risky and unethical that she shelved the thought in the far back of her mind. He owed her a ring, a proposal, a future. She deserved it.
Suddenly, an avalanche of reality crashed down on her as she pulled her silver Mini Cooper into the strip mall in front of Spic and Steam Carpet Cleaners where she worked. What if, as her mother warned, Ryan wasn’t asking her to marry him because she got too comfortable in their relationship and had let herself go physically? After securing a parking space, Anabella stepped out of the car and couldn’t help but notice her stomach blubber beneath her ruffled blouse under her suit jacket. She had gained at least thirty pounds since she first met Ryan. But he was a good man. He never held her weight gain against her. He loved her no matter what size she was, how she looked or what she possessed. She was his “yin.” He was her “yang.” They supplemented and completed one another.
Yin. Anabella could hear him dragging out her pet name with a loving whisper as she pictured his eyes fixated on her mouth.
And, the love-making? Long gone were the twice-a-day, sometimes three-times-a-day, sweet liaisons between them. Outside the boudoir, chasing and conquering each other on the couch, kitchen counter and, most titillating, on top of the washing machine precisely during the spin cycle. They were still hot for each other. Right? Not so much. Of course, many men, she had read, lost a part of their sex drive at thirty. Not to mention, these days Ryan slept little, worked hard, seven days a week, too tired to barely eat an eight-o’clock-at-night dinner that she prepared for him, never mind love-making. Anabella understood. She kept herself occupied and her attention on a bright future between them. Then again, she realized, when he did come home, she greeted him with her grunge look of faded sweats sprinkled with bleach spots.
Looking at her reflection in the car’s mirror, she decided that when she got to the office, after she called the boss at Belovely Bridal Boutique and got the saleswoman fired, she would call her hairdresser and schedule an appointment for Japanese hair straightening. It was the only process that worked on her stubborn auburn-colored, lifeless hair that she could barely run a brush through, never mind a comb.
At that moment a brilliant idea hit her. After work she would visit Lacy Lace’s House of Naughty. She would bring something lacy home tonight, alright, something sheer and girly, and the minute Ryan sallied in, far better than the effect of an energy drink, his cock would harden and his only appetite would be for her. She knew regardless of what her critical mother said, she was beautiful, weight gain or not. And, she was determined to ensure that Ryan loved every inch of every extra pound of her.
“Damn saleswoman was probably the best thing that happened to her,” Anabella speculated as she slammed the car door behind her; things were about to change in her life big-time, and she would finally wear the jewel tiered tulle beaded gown she had dreamed of for far too long, and if her luck wasn’t about to change, she would change her life with her own drive and gumption.
Maybe getting the bitch fired, she deliberated, wasn’t the way to go after all, because the next time she would drop into Belovely Bridal Boutique would be after her wedding day. And, she, Mrs. Ryan Finn, would show the fat ass sales woman photos of her elegant dress that she had bought from a competing bridal shop. Anabella really wasn’t a vindictive person; she was soft and compassionate, but her all-time fear was that people would mistake her kindness for stupidity.