Lizzie Norton is a thiry years old and is single. Not for long. Her pushy, tradition driven mother arranges a marriage for her eldest daughter to someone of whom Lizzie has never laid eyes on or spoken to in her life. The biggest shock, though, is that the wedding will be held in just two weeks time. What will Lizzie do?
How are you to know what life will throw at you when it throws itself at you in some of the most peculiar times and places? What would you do if your father died on during your nativity play at school? What would you do if you were bullied about food getting stuck in your braces at lunchtime? What would you do if embarrassed yourself in front of the whole High School graduation by falling face first into the punch bowl? What would you do if your mother told you, simply out of the blue, that you were to marry somebody you had never met before in two weeks’ time?
“What!?” cried a very shocked and startled Lizzie Norton, “You want me to get married in two weeks time!?” she couldn’t believe what was happening. Surly she must be dreaming. She pinched her arm hard, just to check, and whimpered at the pain. No, she was not dreaming.
“Darling, you’re nearly thirty years old. A girl of your age should be married by now. Heck, when I was your age, I had already been married for twelve years!” her widowed mother, Clara Norton, calmly argued back.
“Yes, mother, but when you got married it was 1975 and your family has always been very traditional. That was over forty odd years ago! People aren’t expected to get married at such a young age now days.”
“But, as you said, it’s tradition. If I’d had my way, you would have been married the minute you turned eighteen, or twenty at the latest.”
“But why? Why do you find it so important for me to be married? What about my other sisters? Neither of them is married yet!”
“Yes, but your sisters are younger than you are and are both currently engaged to be married or are to soon be engaged.”
“But why me? Why are you so dedicated to having me married to someone I’ve a) never met, b) don’t know and c) don’t even love!?”
“I’m only doing what’s best for you, Elizabeth! Your father would have wanted this!” Clara yelled, standing up from her seat and towering over her daughter. Clara was not one for full blown arguments but, when felt necessary, she took the chance to stand up for herself and express her views clearly. Lizzie cowered underneath her mother and bowed her head in shame. She was known for being weak and easy to break. Just uttering her father’s name would force her ball her eyes out, “Now, Lizzie, you will be wed at the chapel in two weeks time to Mr William Humphrey. He is a very wealthy gentleman and will make a good husband to you. An arrangement has been made for us to meet with him and his family later today. You will dress in your best clothes and be on your best behaviour. Do you understand?” Clara certainly treated her eldest daughter much like she would have when she was a child but if it meant getting her to do as she was asked; treating her like a six year old was what necessary in situations like this.
“Yes, mother. I understand.” Lizzie uttered, tears gliding delicately down her cheeks. She didn’t want to meet with this Mr William Humphrey and she didn’t want to get married but she knew that if she tested her mother’s nerves any longer it would just result in something ugly and would involve a lot of crying and screaming.
“Good. Be sure that your sisters are ready also. I expect them to come and set a good example for the women of our family. You must ask them to bring their men with them too.” Clara informed Lizzie. She nodded obediently to her mother’s request and left the room with her head bowed down.
Once out of her mother’s sight, she rushed up the stairs and to her bedroom where she collapsed onto her bed and cried horrendously into her pillow. Unaware of her youngest sister’s presence at the desk, she carried on crying and was started when a fragile hand was placed onto her shoulder. She looked up and could just make out her sister, Rory Norton, through blurry and teary eyes.
“Lizzie, whatever is the matter?” came her soft, friendly voice, “You haven’t had another argument with mother have you?”
“I’m afraid so, Rory, she expects me to do something I would never in my life dream of doing.”
“Surely it can’t be that bad?” Rory asked, perching herself elegantly on the edge of the silk covered bed, “Surely she wouldn’t make you do anything against your own will?”
“Well, on this one occasion, she has chosen to turn my whole world upside down. She is making me get married in two weeks’ time.” Rory stared at her eldest sister with wide eyes and an expressionless face.
“She’s what?” she murmured after a short silence.
“She’s making me get married! I don’t want to get married though; I want to be free and independent! I don’t want to be burdened by a husband I don’t even love or even know.”
“You haven’t even met him yet?”
“No, I haven’t. We’re all requested to meet him and his parents later today to discuss the wedding preparations and agreements.”
“She’s making us go too?”
“Yes. And she wishes for you, Gellie and Fliss to come too, with your men. She’s says that we need to portray a good image of the Norton women.”
“Oh, why do I have to go? It’s only going to be a boring tea party again. I hate tea parties and I hate wearing frilly frocks and silly, pink heels. I’d much rather go in a pair of denims, an old t-shirt and a pair of converse. That’d be much more comfortable and it would portray the image of the Norton women – rebellious!” Rory laughed at her own words and seeked the laughter from her sister’s mouth, with failure.
“I don’t see why you’re making this seem like a big joke, Rory. This is my life we’re talking about! Mother has turned my world upside down, inside out and flushed it down the toilet. I need your support and you’re just joking around!”
“I’m sorry, Lizzie, but, you have to admit; it is the teensiest bit funny, don’t you think?” Lizzie glared at her sister and crossed her arms in dissatisfaction, “Obviously not. Come on, Lizzie, cheer up. Things will get better, I promise!”
“How can you promise anything like that? You’re twenty-one. You’ve done nowhere near enough to understand the laws of the Earth and you know nothing about our mother! Believe me; she’ll not let this go. Let’s face it; I’m destined to be unhappy in a loveless marriage with a random stranger!”
“Chin up, Lizzie,” Rory lovingly reassured her sister, “I’m right her beside you when mother or this… what-ever-his-name-is gives you shit.” A rush of sudden amusement filled Lizzie’s cheeks as she beamed from cheek to cheek. Her kid sister was a real Norton rebel, just like their father had been...