Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Wedding

This week's Sunday Scribbings prompt is "wedding."

I don't remember picking out this wedding dress, although it is stunning. I look at myself in the mirror, struggling to believe it's actually me in the reflection. How did I get here?

My sister Em is arranging silk flowers in my up-do.

"Where did I get this dress?" I ask

"Good one Violet," Em laughs. "Making jokes to calm the nerves?"

I push my mind to the edge of my remembering. How did I come to be standing in front of this mirror, with this dress, and the silk flowers in my hair? Clearly it's my wedding day, but I can't remember a single event leading up to it. The memory most noticeably absent is the one I should have of dating, a ring, a proposal and a fiance.

Suddenly the door bursts open and my mom breezes in. "They'll be ready for us in fifteen minutes," she says to Em. "How's she coming?" I catch Em rolling her eyes in her reflection.

"Mom?" I ask. "I think somethings wrong."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know who I'm marrying. I think we should call off the wedding."

"Oh Violet! What are you talking about? Leslie is wonderful, and he adores you."

Leslie? Again I reach into the corners of my mind and find no evidence of "Leslie."

"Besides," mom says, the edge of her smile twitching ever so slightly, "all the guests are here, and they've brought gifts. We can't tell them all to go home now." She tilted her head to the side and looked at me, smiling. "You look beautiful. Everything is going to be fine."

My mind notes the fact that mom's brush off did nothing to allay my concern. "Fifteen minutes, OK?" mom sings as she moves towards the door.

"Mom? Really, I don't think I can go through with this."

"Everything will be fine honey. Don't worry." Mom slips through the door and pulls it closed behind her.

I look in the mirror to catch Em's reaction. She has finished with my hair and is fussing with the train on my dress. "This beading is gorgeous," she says. "Completely worth the extra $500 to have it added." She is studying the tiny pearls as if there would be a test on them later.

"I can't get married." I tell her. "I don't know who Leslie is. I don't even know what he looks like. I don't know anything about him. Em, I can't marry someone I don't even know!"

"Oh my goodness!" Em gasps.

Does she finally understand this crisis? If I could just get Em on my side, I might have a chance at getting mom to call things off.

"There is a tiny thread hanging out at this seam." She says, fingering my dress. "You are so lucky I saw this." She reaches for the nail clippers and snips at the offending thread. "this could have snagged on something and spoiled your dress."

I can't remember one event that lead up to this moment: I'm about to be married, to someone I don't know. Did I spend a day sampling wedding cake flavors? Did I select announcements or have an engagement photo taken? Of course Leslie was the biggest mystery of all.

"Em, please." Panic starts gripping my gut and moves into my chest.

"Oh, you're right," she says looking at the wall clock. "It's time to go on over to the chapel."

There's a quick double rap on the door before my mom opens it and pops her head in. "It's time!"

She is smiling. Really big.

"Come on Violet. Let's go."

Em gently takes my arm and leads me out the door. I'm walking, but I don't know why. I've never said "no" to my mom before, but then, I've never had a reason to.

"Mom," I say, more urgently now. "We need to call this off. Can't we please stop this?"

"Honey, please...let's worry about this later."

The walk across the church courtyard to the chapel does not take nearly as long as it should and in seconds we are at the chapel doors. Mom pushes them open to reveal a packed house. I look through the crowd for someone, anyone whose glance might make sense of this moment, or save me from it. I see hair-do's and hats and lots of lipstick as I begin walk down the center aisle. My eyes finally rest on who is waiting for me at the end.


Or at least who I assume is Leslie because I am certain that I've never seen this person before in my life.

I spot my mom, beaming now on the front row. I widen my eyes at her in desperate, emergency communication. mom subtly inclines her head towards the end of the aisle and ...eventually...Leslie.


I slow my march considerably, even though Pachelbel's Canon in d is clearly coming to an end. I certainly don't remember choosing that song. The violinists improvise with a few more bars of melody as, eyes downcast, I memorize fine variations in the carpet pattern.

I'm practically shuffling in place now and I start to hear muffled coughs and whispers. I can't do it. I can't.

I look up, just to make sure, and fix my eyes on the man in the tuxedo, five inches shorter than me and possibly twenty-five years older. Give or take a few years. The gut threatening to burst the pearl covered buttons on his white, ruffled shirt indicates he also has me beat by about 65 pounds.


I stop a good fifteen feet from Leslie and the minister, waiting to unite us in holy matrimony. I can't move.

How did I get here?

This is based on a recurring dream I used to have before I was married. I don't know if this dream spoke more to anxieties I had about marriage or my mother. (Hi Mom.)


Betty Grace said...

Ha- I have that dream too. Also I have one where I'm pregnant and can't remember the details leading to that one either. :)

Also- very well written.

Emily Laing said...

Afton...it's Allie and Ryan Jensen...they moved from Lake Oswego to Hillsboro in the last few months. Hospice just went in and he is going to go soon...

Erika and Ryan said...

Aren't dreams interesting? They really do have meaning at times, and it's interesting how frustration dreams really can reflect frustration you are currently having. Last night me, my husband, and my oldest all had really strange dreams. It must have been the chili I made for dinner! Oh, and do you ever find that books you read influence your dreams? Like I was up late last night reading Pope Joan and it was really intense--a lot of death--and so naturally my dream involved death and some other scary things, yet tied in with people from my ward and a temple outing we went on in a school bus. So interesting, scary, gruesome, touching, and even funny. My emotions were on a roller coaster last night!

Rachael Levy said...

This was fun, but it left me wanting more! :) Did she turn around and walk out the door or did she make it to the head of the church and marry Leslie?

Heather said...

What happens next??

Afton said...

What do YOU think happens next? (This was always where the dream ended for me.)

Marah said...

I love the detail--this story is so vivid for me!