Saturday Stories: Cold Feet

Photo: Janine, Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Janine, Wikimedia Commons

Gwen paced back and forth across the foyer’s wooden floor, her satin heels clicking out the rhythm of her racing heart. Her skirts rustled with every step.

Her mind changed with every turn she made.

Should she or shouldn’t she?

Through the heavy doors, she could hear the organ playing her favourite songs. She’d spent hours choosing them. They sounded stupid on the organ. She’d known they would, but her mother had insisted they’d be lovely.

Just as she’d insisted that Gwen would be lovely in this mound of tulle and satin, with three-inch heels.

She hadn’t been wrong on the dress. It was lovely, if you liked the Disney princess look. Gwen didn’t. But it was easier just to say yes to the dress—it pleased her mother so much.

Bill pleased her mother, too. He was tall, handsome, polite, and had a good job. He and Gwen had dated for so long that her family considered him their own. He was there for every celebration, and had been named godfather to Gwen’s niece, on the assumption he and Gwen would eventually marry.

It had been fun, planning the wedding. Though she’d given in to her mother on the dress and the organ, she and Bill had chosen the reception venue, and the band—no organ music, but the hard rock both of them liked.

They had also had fun planning their honeymoon—two weeks on the Gold Coast of Australia. Gwen looked forward to the beach and the snorkelling.

She continued to pace. The organ had gone silent, and she knew the wedding march would start in a moment. She could visualise Bill taking his place at the front of the church, the pastor standing on the steps of the alter to welcome her. She could see her bridesmaids—all five of them—arrayed in a spray of kelly green, with gold leaves braided into their hair, just like the ones in Gwen’s own.

But she couldn’t see herself in the scene. She stopped pacing and concentrated.

No. She wasn’t there. She tried to force the vision of herself standing next to Bill, gazing lovingly into his eyes as the pastor pronounced them husband and wife.

But the vision wouldn’t come.

She tried to see herself in a suburban house, Bill’s shirts lined up in the closet beside hers. She tried to see herself pushing a baby stroller through the park.

Nope.

With a flourish, the organ began the wedding march.

Gwen took a deep breath, turned her back on the heavy doors, and ran down the steps to the car waiting by the kerb.

“Just Married!” said the hand-written sign taped to the back. She tore it off, opened the boot, and grabbed her suitcase.

A block away, she hailed a cab.

“To the airport,” she said as she got in the back.

Where should she go? She leaned forward and asked the driver.

“What do you think? Fiji or Hawaii?”

“Oh, Hawaii, for sure,” replied the driver.

Gwen sat back with a smile. Hawaii it would be.

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