After the Wedding

Their fingers kept fumbling at my tie. And I kept trying to wave them away.

Are you finished? I asked. They shook their heads.

Over, under then thread the two between: Windsor knot finally done.

It was then I lost it. One lifted my feet, the other my arms and lowered me in.

Leave me alone, I said. I have a wedding to go to.

They drew back as if electrocuted.

Leave him, I heard one whisper. They always come back, said the other. All we need to do is wait. After all, it’s only until next week.

I didn’t care for that. I was shaved, showered, shampooed and perfectly suited.

Where else could I go?

And I flew. I mean flew. I have never made such good time in this life.

And perfect timing too. I arrived at the same time as the wedding party.

I could see them in my mind’s eye.

Shuffling up the steps to the reception : heads bowed, murmuring softly, so softly I couldn’t hear them.

First, The Bride. Josie looking beautiful but somewhat bent, bedraggled and pale.

Bridesmaids, cloned far too alike in that garish pink chiffon that will never ever go with anything else.

Finally the groomsmen, black-suited, white shirts but black ties and arm bands donned in defiance.

I slipped easily into my place. And no one noticed.

Even when the speeches began. Although the laughter could have been a little more inhibited. Lighten up everyone, this is a wedding, I said. That joke didn’t fly.

Even the best man. John with the standard recitation of pranks and pitfalls.

He paused too much I thought. Kept ducking down for another drink. And gasping and gulping between words. Buck up mate, it will all be over soon, I said.

Everyone kept smiling and nodding politely even his rather off-colour dad jokes.

The underestimated maid of honour speech. Kim: tall, wan and white faced, blond coiffured hair suffused by pink chiffon. She began. It was the usual reminiscence of girlfriends’ past : her and Josie, Josie and her, both friends together and forever,

“Until three days ago,” she said and stopped. Too late now. She is going to change her speech. It didn’t matter in the end. Her voice broke and Josie flew to her and comforted her.

Josie. The bride, Stood. Paused. Waited until every eye is upon her. Including mine. And I knew she knew it.

“Set me as a seal upon my heart, for love is strong,” she paused. “Stronger. Than death.”

“Passionate love,” I continued. “As relenting.” She paused. “Never relenting. As the grave.”

Instead I glanced at everyone at the reception. Stilled, hushed and silenced, now, heads bowed low.

I reach up and grab her arm. And my grip misses as she sits.

I stood. I looked. And the words left me. For the reception was in truth empty. I woke up. I had a funeral to go to. Mine.

You’re back, one of the attendants said.

Yes, I said, I’m ready. To begin my wait. After all, I had a wedding to go to.