The Wedding by Anita Goodfellow
I run my hands over the crisp white linen, smoothing out imaginary creases. The flowers, a showy display of red and yellow roses are beginning to droop in the heat. I pick up a velvet-soft petal remembering the weeks Laura and I had spent looking for the right shade of red to match the burgundy tone of the bridesmaid’s dresses.
Of course that was before Steve’s cancer was diagnosed and before I had met my daughter’s future in-laws, Jane and Derek. Although the top table has been rearranged, the space where Steve should be sitting is evident and the loss of my husband hits me afresh. I shut my eyes to stop the tears and breathe deeply until my heartbeat returns to normal. When I open my eyes Derek is leaning over me, asking if I need a glass of water. I nod.
As he walks away he leaves behind a waft of cedar undertones, Aramis I think it is called. It takes me back twenty-five years to when I first met him. How young and naďve I was then.
Earlier Jane had made an effort to chat to me, the fascinator in her hair bobbing about like some exotic bird, her round face full of sympathy. If she knew the truth she would hate me.
This would be nothing compared to what Laura would feel. I should have been brave enough to tell Laura the truth, but with Steve being ill I couldn’t do it to them, not after twenty-four years. Laura was the apple of his eye.
Derek places a glass on the table in front of me. His smile is so like Laura’s that I can’t believe I’m the only one to notice. I’m tempted to tell him my fears and to wipe the self-satisfied grin off his face, but I can’t do it. Instead, I push back my chair, narrowly missing his feet and stumble away.
I hear him call my name, but I don’t stop until I reach the toilet. Briefly I rest my back against the door before walking over to the basin where I splash my face with icy-cold water, not caring about my make-up.
Staring at my reflection I silently ask myself what I’ve done to deserve this. I know the answer.
‘Mum. Are you ok?
I turn to see Laura standing at the door. Her worried expression is at odds to her elegant wedding gown.
‘The speeches are about to start,’ she says.
‘I just needed a few minutes on my own.’
‘I miss Dad so much. ’
The tears that have been threatening all day spill over. We hold each other close. Eventually we pull apart and, taking a tissue from my handbag, I dab at my daughter’s eyes.
I bend my forehead to hers until we’re touching and stare into Laura’s slate-blue eyes. I think how much they remind me of Steve and feel a glimmer of hope that maybe my fears are unfounded.