You May Now Kiss the Bride
You May Now
Kiss the Bride
For better, for worse. In sickness and in health.
“Dearly beloved” The minister started, “we are gathered here today in the sight of God to join this man, and this woman in holy matrimony.”
Ok, hold up. So how am I - a lesbian - here in the first place to be married to a man I barely know and for certain do not love? And pregnant with his child no less!
Well, to understand it better, I must start way back in the day - all the way back to middle school actually. Before that we were all children and everything was kids’ play - or at least I think so. Anyway, in middle school I started to notice I did not have the same goals in mind than my classmates when it came to adult life. They all wanted to have handsome boyfriends and be treated at princesses - and finally get married to said men and have a happy life as a bride.
Well I can’t say I never wanted to be a bride - I did, actually, a lot. I still want to be - which is really ironical considering here I am, standing next to the altar going to be one, but I’m still unhappy. I guess when life gives you a good thing, you need to give up something - in my case apparently my identity, my life and most importantly - my love.
As the others ogled after handsome guys, I could not care less. I could not summon the enthusiasm to fawn over some guy. I thought I was broken or defective, until my third year there. When the third year started, everything became clear for me, and the reason for all of that was Vivian. Vivian Hayes. She came into my life like a shining star, blinding me with her brightness and wiped away all my doubts and fears. It was like someone lifted a lid from an age-old chest and blew away all the dust. When I first saw her, her slightly curly blonde hair, her playful smile and her twinkling blue yes, I fell in love. I fell in love so hard I instantly knew what my classmates had been talking about those last years. I wanted to be her bride so badly it hurt my heart.
But we were both girls! How would that work? For one - I had no idea how two girls would go on doing anything as couples, and on the other hand, the society at large did not look at something like that nicely. It was a taboo, a dirty thing that those freak “homos” were doing.
“Not to be entered into lightly”, the minister continued, “holy matrimony should be entered into solemnly and with reverence and honor.”
I watched her silently for the whole year I still was there, unable to word out my feelings - even to myself, really. Now I can say I loved her, and I still do. She’s the only person on this planet of ours that I have ever truly loved. I went to junior high and lost her for two years again. I was silent, moody and turned to myself. The couple of friends I had were really worried about me, but I couldn’t say anything, couldn’t tell them the real reason. On my third year in junior high she entered the school again and light returned to my world. My friends noticed this and questioned me to no end. On one day, I cracked and confessed to my childhood friend that I was in love, and the person I loved was a girl. She looked at me so disgusted that it turned my heart inside out. Without saying a word, she left my house and I have never since talked to her. She avoided me at school and never again did we talk. It tore me apart, but the worst part was that I understood that I could never have Vivian. I could not do to her what just happened to me, not if it resulted in her getting shunned by everyone, that light to dim and die. I could not bear that thought. And even more, I was afraid that if I confessed to her, she would look at me with those same cold, disgusted eyes as my friend had done to me. That was a fear worse than death. I would gladly accept death or worse, but to have Vivian look at me like that.. that would have destroyed me.
I went on to High School and was again separated from her, but this time also from my friends. My childhood friend transferred to another school entirely and I have not seen her since. Not until this day, when I see her sitting there, in the audience, in back row. She might think I did not see her, but I did. I do not know why she came, nor what is her agenda. I haven’t talked to her in more than ten years.
When I moved to my final year in High School, to my surprise, Vivian entered too. I was over the moon that she’d chosen the same school as me and I’d get to see her for one final year before our paths would separate us forever. On the spring of my third year, I got weak. I could not handle leaving her forever without even telling her how I felt. We were not close friends, but we talked here and there, been schoolmates for many years now. She knew me as her “Upperclassman Brooks”, or if I was really lucky, she’d call me “Melody-senpai” with a grin on her face. I swear I will live fifty years longer because of those smiles. So, when there was less than half a year of school left for me before graduating, I asked to talk to her in private. I was so nervous I though I’d just devour my nails there and then. I was standing with my back against the wall behind the school, my palms sweaty and my breath quick. I felt like I was a criminal on a run from the police, going to do more illegal crap.
As I was standing there, she came. I remember that moment more clearly than anything other in my life. Vivian walked around the corner, with fumbling steps she closed the distance to me. Her cheeks were tinted with red and she was very nervous. I guessed she knew what was coming and was afraid and disgusted. But, before I managed to say anything more than a grunt, she was right next to me, watching me with those sparkling blue eyes of hers. I tried to look for the disgust or the fear, but I could not see either. Just the light that brightened my world. Then she spoke to me, before I could say anything. Words that were forever carved into the deepest folds of my heart. Words that I will never forget for as long as I live.
Melody, I love you.
Even after all these years, those words bring tears to my eyes. Nobody had ever before said those words to me. Not my parents, not anyone. My plan was all thrown out the window. I had planned to tell her, then apologize and just walk away from her life, never to bother her again. But those four words changed everything. They changed my plan, my life, my destiny. Or at least I thought at that time.
I broke down in tears, not being able to say anything, I collapsed to the ground, only managing to utter my apologies to her. She kneeled down and held me close. Shh, she said. Don’t worry, I won’t hate you, I never could. I have loved you since the day I saw you back in middle school. I could not believe my ears. I just lifted my gaze up and got lost into those luminous eyes. I couldn’t hold my tears back and just cried against her. She held me close for god knows how long and then she kissed me. It was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me.
We started going out in secret and it was the best time of my life. We were together for five years. For those five blissful years of my life I was happy. We moved together when she graduated from high school. I was in college and she got onto one too. We worked part-time and lived in a small one-room-and-kitchen apartment close to her school. She was going to be a lawyer, and me, I was in a business-oriented program, going for a managerial position somewhere. Well, I did do what I started out to do, I am a manager in a well-off company now, with a salary to match. I would not complain if.. if only.
But one day when I got home from lessons, she wasn’t there. There were no messages, no notes. Nothing. Her stuff was all there, except her shoes and jacket. Everything else was there, including the left-overs of her lunch. She had left in a hurry, even her phone was on the bedroom table still.
I waited hours, then days, then weeks. She never came back, I tried reaching out to anybody, the landlord, her school administration, anything. Nobody knew anything, she was just… gone. I read the accident descriptions daily for half a year expecting her name or description to pop any day. But nothing ever came up. I left my school and postponed my graduation for a year and drunk too much for months on end. Even my mother, who had never shown much interest in me came to visit and asked what had happened. Her friend had seen me drunk as a cuckoo crying in a bus stop and called my mother. I broke down in tears and told her everything, starting from middle school and ending in Vivian disappearing and me falling into the pit of depression. That night, I heard another sentence that I won’t ever forget. But it was not like Vivian back those years ago.
Good. Now you can finally stop being a freak, get a proper man and get married and have children.
Good, my mother said. My mother. Good that the love of my life and the reason I lived for was gone. It broke me and I cried for hours. I think my mother initially thought I agreed with her and those tears were for her, but I think she got the idea when I threw her out of our apartment, closed the door in her face and yelled that I never wanted to even hear about her again.
She was not done with me, though. Not by a long shot. Determined to ‘save me’ or whatever mental gymnastics her twisted mind came up with, she set me up with a dozen of different guys the following months. Each one came to my door thinking I was interested in them, the worst ones thinking I wanted to have sex with them the instant I opened the door.
And one of those guys…One of the men my mother send to see me and lied about my wants and needs. One of them stands at my side now, ready for me to be his bride and a mother to his children. Luke Riley.
The minister drew breath and continued on “Into this holy agreement these two persons come together to be joined.”
Luke knocked on my door one Saturday night and when when I opened the door to see who’s there, he slammed the door into me and came into my apartment. He smiled and said my mother had told him that I liked authority in my men and that I liked to be taken against my will. I cried and pleaded and begged, but he was sure that was what I wanted - that I was just someone looking to be his bitch and wanted him to humiliate me. That night I had the most painful intimacy I had ever had in my life as he forced his way with me. He hit me and tied me and did everything he wanted. It hurt, both physically and mentally. All I could think was Vivian and the way she touched me and always made sure I was okay with everything and never hurt me. I blanked out and I can’t even recall what happened that night if I wanted to - and I don’t. I’ve blocked it out, but it didn’t really matter. My mother told him afterwards that I really liked what he did and actually wanted to be with him. He did not believe me when I disputed that and asked, begged and demanded he leave. I am not a large woman, so he could easily overpower me and have his way. And so he did. Days and nights in a row, for weeks or months. He took my key, made one for himself and came and went however he wanted. I collected my courage and informed the police, who laughed and said they won’t do anything about domestic disputes if I can’t show proof. I told them I don’t even know the guy, but somehow he had managed to get his name on my apartment as a tenant beside me and they laughed me out.
For a year or so I stayed at work as much as I could. I slept on the personnel room couch as much as I dared, stayed overtime without pay, took part in everything that allowed me to not be at home. Luke didn’t care, since he was using my money left and right, for gambling, for women, for fast cards and booze. I think he had an affair or two also, but I didn’t care, every time he wasn’t at home was a blissful time for me.
That lasted for that year, and then one day - which was just over half a year ago. I woke up in the morning feeling really ill. Thinking nothing about it, since feeling bad was my default state anyway, I continued my existence and went to work. I was feeling queasy while there too, and I was sent to see the workplace doctor. I was there told news that I was hoping I’d never hear after meeting Luke. I was pregnant for him. I like babies and children and I would’ve been overjoyed if I could have raised a child with Vivian. But with Luke as the baby’s ‘father’… no, I couldn’t wish that to such a defenseless being. I immediately wanted to get an abortion, but somehow, someway my mother had beaten me and it was written on my medical papers that I was not in sound mind to make such decision by myself and my mother was asked… she was over the moon, this had been her plan from the start after all - to get a grandchild out of me, her only daughter. So, I was denied abortion and I had to keep the child. And my mother and Luke forced me to get married to him, so he ‘can properly take care of the both of us after the baby is born’. Luke couldn’t take care of his own ass if it came to see him on Friday night. I suspect Luke is only in it for my money and my mother is oblivious to his schemes only because she can only see a husband for me and a grandchild for her.
So, here I stand. A pregnant lesbian, beside a man I detest, going to be married to him in just a few seconds. I wish I’d die now. There’s no joy in my life, no hope for the future. Neither for me or my baby. In the best case scenario, Luke will just disappear after the marriage is official, in the worst he stays and abuses me and the baby until we give up on life or die and he gets everything.
“Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” The minister states and looks around the room.
People hum and snicker in their pews, wondering why this tradition is still going on, when suddenly the doors slam open and three police persons step inside, followed by a fourth person that is barely visible.
“Stop the marriage progression, good Father”, one of the policemen say.
“This is unheard of!” Says the minister. “This is just a tradition now, nobody is supposed to actuall—“
“Yes, I know”, says the other policewoman. “And we would not do this without really good evidence and pressing reasons. But we have both here. For one, Mr. Riley is under arrest on suspicion of domestic violence, money laundering, illegal activities with minor females and attempt to illegally marry again. Father, Mr. Riley is already legally married - three times actually, all around the world. This marriage is void and illegal from the start.”
“What…?” The minister exclaims, “How was I not…?”
“Mr. Riley has done this before, he’s very good at what he does. He might have managed to do it again had we not received substantial evidence and help from a concerned citizen.” The first policeman continues.
“We have kept your conditions now. Are you satisfied? We took action and allowed you to be part of it and follow us into the church. Is everything acceptable now, miss Hayes?” The policewoman asks the fourth person with them, as the two other policemen go and apprehend Luke from the altar.
“Hayes…?” I say instinctually and spin around to look at the person.
The last person walks past the audience, past the police and stops beside me. Her hair is different, but her eyes.. those bright spots that light my world. I would recognize them anytime, among any number of others.
“Vivi..!” I almost scream out and jump to embrace her. I cannot stop my tears, nor do I want to. All the bent up pain and agony, the months and years of longing, the panic and hopelessness and my love for her. Everything comes up and out as tears. I cannot believe anything anymore, have I died and gone to heaven?
“Shh..” She says gently, “Melody, it’s all over now. I found you and I will never let go of you again.” She takes me into a tight embrace and I fall into her arms, unable to stand.
“Uhmm.. we, ah.. we will continue this later.”, the minister struggles to speak to the audience. “Would all of you please retreat to the courtyard, you will be told if and when we will continue or not. There’s coffee, tea and biscuits on the table. Please, help yourselves.”
I see my mother crying on the back. I don’t know why, and I don’t care. But what grabs my attention is my childhood friend, who looks at us and smiles. She nods, curtsies and walks away. I don’t understand, but frankly at this moment I don’t really care either. Vivian is back, I’m in her arms and the police are escorting Luke away. I see the police are also talking to my mother and she follows them out reluctantly. I can only hope she will get what’s due to her too.
“How…? Where did you go?” I stumble, “How did you know? How…?”
Vivian smiles and looks towards the door. “Your childhood friend.” She says gently. “Apparently she felt bad for something she said years ago. I got all the evidence from her and your location and plans. I can only thank her for this opportunity to get back to you.”
“I thought she hated me..?” I whisper and begin to sob again. Vivian comforts me and presses a kiss onto my lips. How I have longed that touch. Touch that won’t hurt, won’t main, won’t inflict pain.
“Father?” Vivian asks the minister.
“Yes, my child?” He answers.
“I have a suggestion, a wish more like. I know it’s out of the ordinary, but I would like to continue the marriage process.”
“What?” I almost yelp out.
“How?” The minister almost spits out, “the husband-to-be has been taken by the police, so is the bride’s mother! Half of the quests are probably gone and we don’t even have rings because the police took them as evidence! “
“We don’t need the husband, bride’s mother is a sociopath and ready for mental hospital anyway. We have the bride here, and someone who wants to marry her more than anything.” Vivian says and smiles at me. I gasp as I figure out her plan. My heart beats louder than my thoughts and I feel queasy. I wanted this for so long…
“What, who?” The minister asks and looks around, “and as I said, we don’t have the rings.”
“But, I do.” Vivian says and pulls out a small jewelry box and opens it. Within it, there are two rings that intertwine and both contain half a heart that completes as one whole when the rings are side by side. “And the one who wants to marry her, is me. Will you marry me, Melody Brooks?” She says gently as she turns towards me and holds the rings in her hand.
“I DO!” I yell, without being able to, or even wanting to stop. I jump at her, wrap my hands around her neck and kiss her soundly.
Vivian giggles, pushes me away a bit and looks at the minister. “So, as you can see, she’s willing. Could you marry us?”
“This is highly out of the ordinary!” The minister exclaims.
“But not illegal anymore” Vivian says, “the law was just recently changed. You can legally marry us.”
“I know, I know, but.. all the paper work!” The minister says
“They can all be written after the fact. This woman came here today to be married, on what she probably thought was going to be the worst day of her life, would you deny her the happiness of getting married after all that, after you saw how she responded to my question?”
“I will ask the notary”, the minister says, turns away and walks towards a door back behind the altar.
“Where.. where did you go..?” I manage to ask Vivian.
She looks so sad, her gaze drops downwards and her eyes well up. “I left to get you a pudding for snack for when you’d get home… “ She says and wipes a tear form her eye. “… and I got abducted. Well, that’s what it was, although it was my family. See, I never told you about my family that much, because.. because they were so similar to yours, but… more, uh.. capable. I never thought they’d go as far as that, but they did. They took me, imprisoned me in on of their manors for months and then sent me overseas to a ‘secure location’ where I could live without ‘outside influences’.” She takes a small pause and looks into the distance. “It was only about half a year ago that I managed to contact one of my uncles, who is definitely on my side. He was furious that part of the family had done this to me without his knowledge and set on taking a few heads in the process of getting me back here. And considering it’s him, I’m not entirely sure the ‘taking heads’ part was actually a figure of speech either… “ Vivian swallows and continues “So I came here and started looking for you. You had not moved, so it was easy to find you, but I didn’t have my key anymore and I didn’t see you, just some guy who came and went from your apartment as he pleased. Sometimes with multiple women. It was only after a couple of months that I actually saw you yourself. I almost just ran to you, but then I saw him with you and kept my distance. I was not entirely sure this was what you had wished, so I set out to investigate. I bumped into your old childhood friend in the process and she told me a lot of things. She works in a place where she was able to gather all kinds of information and handed it all to me. I’m not sure why, but she seemed to regret her past greatly. She almost cried a couple of times when talking about you. I don’t know what drove you apart, but she seems to regret it each day. You might want to consider giving her another chance one of these days, you know. Without her I wouldn’t be here.”
“But after.. I thought she hated me because…” I stammer out weakly.
“Like I said, I’m not privy to the specifics. Just thought you’d want to know. She’s doing fine, by the way. She’s married.” Vivian says with a smile.
“I wouldn’t know, sounds like her. She always wanted to be a bride to an handsome husband.” I say quietly, not wanting to remember her that much at all.
“Well she failed there then” Vivian says and grins.
“Hmh?” I ask, looking at her. How I missed those mischievous eyes and that smile.
“Well, she got to be the bride alright, but her ‘husband’ is a tiny bit more feminine that you’d think. Still, she was a pretty bride too, they make a pretty couple.” Vivi grins at me.
“WHAT?” I exclaim, not believing my own ears. “She’s gay too?! But… that’s exactly… Well, it does make a twisted kind of sense, if she knew she was gay back then.. internalized homophobia is a bitch and a half, right?”
“Too true.” She says quietly and kisses me on the nose.
The minister returns, walks towards us with a new guy with a bunch of papers with him. “Here, “ the minister says, “if you sign these for him, we can continue. But the reservation is almost over, we can’t go through the whole set.”
“That’s fine”, Vivian says, “we can just continue where you left off, the important part comes after that anyways.”
“Are you going to wear.. that?” The minister asks Vivian and looks at her from head to toe. Vivian is dressed in a baggy hoodie, a knitted skirt and tights.
Vivian grins at him and answers, “I thought about it, but I have a change of clothes in my car outside, I can go change and I’ll be back in a second. Do let the quests know and continue, I’ll only take a few minutes.” She kisses me again, “I’ll be right back Melody, I promise I won’t be abducted this time.” She says, grins and runs outside.
The minister lets the quests know and some of them return with questioning expressions on their faces. Fully three fourths of them have gone away though, so it isn’t a large audience anymore. I don’t know many of them anyway. I spot a couple on the back row that I could swear are two girls, but I’m not sure as it’s so dim. I wish those were my childhood friend and her bride, I really want to talk to them.
“Marriage is a sacred union between husband and wife and shall remain unbroken.” The minister starts after a couple of minutes. There are a few perplexed gasps from the audience, as they try to figure out why the progression just continues without Luke here. “It is the basis of a stable and loving relationship and is a joining of two hearts, bodies and souls. The husband and wife are there to support one another and provide love and care in times of joy and times of adversity.” The minister clears his throat. “Excuse me. Considering the situation, I’d like to rephrase that. *krhm* Marriage is a sacred union between wife and wife and shall remain unbroken.” He continues and there are audible yelps and gasps from the audience. “It is the basis of a stable and loving relationship and is a joining of two hearts, bodies and souls. The wife and wife are there to support one another and provide love and care in times of joy and times of adversity.”
The door opens, and Vivian steps in. She’s dressed in a white silken gown with a veil on her head. It’s simple, but really, really beautiful - it’s more her style than a traditional wedding dress anyway. I can not but look at her and wonder. She walks towards me with such grace I feel my ears getting red. Needles to say, I will not be sleeping tonight. Nor possibly the next night. She walks beside me and takes my hand into hers and looks at the minister and nods.
“We are all here today to witness the joining in wedded bliss of— “ the minister looks at the paper in his hands. “— Vivian Hayes and Melody Brooks. This joyous day celebrates the commitment and love with which Vivian and Melody start their lives together. Through God, you are joined together in the most holy of bonds. Who gives this woman in holy matrimony to this woman?”
There’s an awkward pause as nobody answers. The minister seems to have had with it, sighs and just continues. “Well, anyway, enough with that. Do you, Vivian Haley take Melody Brooks to be your lawfully wedded wife and live together forever in the estate of holy matrimony? Do you love, comfort, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse for as long as you both shall live?”
“I do.”, Vivian says and smiles at me with such a warm smiles I feel like I’ll melt inside.
“Do you, Melody Brooks take Vivian Haley to be your lawfully wedded wife and live together forever in the estate of holy matrimony? Do you love, comfort, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse for as long as you both shall live?”
“I do.”, I say, with a quivering voice. They day I wished so much would happen and gave up hoping for is here. I’m here with Vivian and we’re getting married. My eyes well up and I can’t help it.
“The wedding ring is an unbroken symbol of the everlasting love and commitment between wife and wife.” The minister says and hands the rings to Vivian. “Repeat after me: With this ring, I thee wed.”
“With this ring, I thee wed.” Vivian says gently and places the ring on my finger.
“With this ring, I thee wed.” I say, almost stuttering, as I place the other ring on Vivian’s finger.
“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. With the power vested in me by God and the state, I now pronounce you wife and wife.”
You may now kiss the bride.