Nicole: Wedding Day
I admit it…I’m scared. I don’t know what to expect. For a while now, I’ve been fighting this. I’ve fought the wishes of my parents, the desires of a good man, and the law of my society. I never wanted this marriage and I’ve prayed over and over that you would please stop this. But God, I realize that it’s not about what I want. Whatever your will is let it be done; I only ask that you give me the strength and the heart to endure it. Thank you for always being so faithful and seeing me through all of my challenges. In Jesus name, Amen.
“Nicole, come downstairs!”
I opened my eyes and lifted my head from my hands. Using the wall of my walk-in closet, I lifted myself from my position on the floor and straightened out my white dress. My mother would lose her mind if she saw any creases in the silk. It was the wedding dress passed down through my mother’s side of the family; an elegant, floor-length gown with off the shoulder sleeves. The heart-shaped bust line and clinch at the waist emphasized my lack of curves, but I didn’t mind it. In fact, I thought the dress was beautiful and had always dreamed of wearing it as a child. Well, we had always dreamed of wearing it…but now that the day had come I felt completely unprepared.
I checked my reflection in the vanity mirror making sure no stray tears had smeared my makeup. My brown eyes looked a little red from my crying, but the eyeliner and mascara was still intact. I knew the puffiness would fade eventually so I didn’t worry about it. I decided to reapply my blush, though. My mocha-colored skin didn’t look as rosy as it should. I actually looked a little pale. I smoothed the sides of my brunette bun, tucking away strands of unruly, curled hair and then hurried toward the door. I slipped into my white heels as my mother screamed my name again. Her voice grew shriller every year. I yanked open the door and shouted, “I’m coming!”
“It’s not polite to keep a man waiting, Nicole. You know that.”
Even on the day of my wedding she was still nagging me. In a loving way, of course. Some things never change.
Carefully, but hastily, I descended the stairs, daring to pause to look out of the huge, multi-paneled window on the spiral staircase. The sun was shining outside and there was barely a cloud in the sky; perfect weather for an outdoor ceremony. I hurried down the rest of the steps and my mother handed me my white rose bouquet. She licked her fingers and slicked them along the sides of my head. She was a bit of a perfectionist.
“I’ll never forgive your father for giving you his curly hair,” she joked with a slight smile. I loved my mother’s smile, the dimples of her cheeks and the creases in her forehead always lit up. Her hazel eyes would gleam for just a moment, a pure moment of joy, and then quickly fade. I liked to contrast this smile to the one she wore when I was merely six years old. She was always happily smiling with my sister and I but times change.
“It’s not so bad,” I mused as she pushed me toward our back doors.
“You look so beautiful, Nicole.” Her voice fell to a whisper as she opened the glass double doors. “I know you’ll make him very happy.” I imagined she was thinking of when she married my father as she looked at me. They were so in love on their wedding day. My mother was practically beaming (her words) as she walked down the aisle toward her curly-haired, sun-kissed dreamboat (once again, her words).
I felt my smile drop. The nagging thought came to my mind, what if I wasn’t happy? It was the custom to marry one’s daughter away on her twentieth birthday if she wasn’t already. If a woman was not married on her twentieth birthday, any man had a right to claim her for his own. This was the law of the society we lived in; women didn’t have much choice when it came to husbands and matters of holy matrimony. Everything was arranged for us. I knew this growing up. I’d known I’d marry this man since I was sixteen. This was my fate.
“I’m sure, I will.” She smiled at me and patted my cheek. I sucked in every detail I could about my mother in that moment; her flaxen, black hair, her hazel eyes that shined a peculiar mixture of gray and brown in the sunlight, the beauty marks that covered her coffee-colored skin, the thick eyebrows I inherited, her pearl earrings, and the buff dress she’d worn for this occasion.
“Go wait by the rose bushes and your father will be out to walk you down the aisle in a few minutes. He’s still fumbling with the bow tie he demanded to wear.” She smiled at me and squeezed my shoulder before she returned inside.
I sighed and did as my mother asked. ‘There’s no point in being sad about this. I know the law. This is God’s will, not mine. I can’t complain anymore; I have to be mature about this. Marriage isn’t the end of the world!’ I thought as I approached the rose bushes. My mother had them planted just for my wedding. I fingered some of the delicate petals, enjoying the silky feeling underneath my fingertips. I could hear the wedding march playing in the distance; everyone was waiting for me and my father. Especially him…the man I was about to marry.
“Pssst.” I opened my mouth to scream in surprise, but a hand wrapped around my mouth before the sound could escape. I’d always been a little jumpy since…well, since I was six. “Don’t scream; it’s okay. Calm down. I’m-uh…part of the wedding.” The hand released me and I pulled away to face the unfamiliar voice.
It belonged to a man that looked to be around my age, maybe a few years older. He was a foot or so taller than me and had the messiest, honey blonde hair I’d ever laid eyes on. It was literally all over the place. He looked worse than I did in the mornings with my curly bird’s nest, but somehow it worked for him. His eyes were smooth like gray pebbles. His skin was kind of pale, but I could tell he was the outdoor type. Though he was dressed in a black tuxedo, I felt wary. I’d never seen him before…ever.
“I don’t think you were at the rehearsal dinner.”
He chuckled, “Of course, I was. I’m one of the groomsmen.”
I raised a brow. “I’ve met all the groomsmen.”
He hesitated. “I’m a waiter.”
“My father didn’t hire you.”
He sighed. “I was hoping you wouldn’t argue with me, and we could just go with it. But I can see you’ve decided to be difficult so I’m going to have to go with plan B.” Before I could question him further, he grabbed my waist and hoisted me over his shoulder. This time he wasn’t able to stop me from screaming.
“Calm down! You’ll be back soon enough! I just need you for a couple of weeks!”
“How dare you!” I screamed as my arms and legs flailed and kicked, “Put me down! Put me down! Help!”
“Agh! I’m sorry about this, but you’re way too fussy.”
I paused and watched as he pulled something white out of his pocket. “What is–”
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