Short story about a girl's feelings before she gets married
It was the perfect day.
All the commotion was taking place in one corner of the expansive gardens of a gorgeous mansion made of white marble. A white marquee was propped up near the lining of the woods, with masses of plain, plastic chairs surrounding it in organised, fussy rows that were slowly filling with people. One side was broken into two columns to make way for a bright red carpet leading to the centre of the huge tent, and the surrounding trees divided the incoming sunlight to create dappled shadows on the carpeting and freshly cut grass. Red roses in crystal vases were dotted about in seemingly random places, while red silk streamers with embroidered embellishments fluttered in the light breeze.
This beautiful scene had taken eighteen months of careful preparation so that it was exactly right, everything in the right place, the right shade of colour and the right style. Leticia hated it with all the emotion she could muster. This gentle, meek and silent woman who did all she could to please and like everyone, hated something. She didn’t like red. Red was a violent colour for violent people with no sense of fashion but thought it had to look good because it’s red. If Leticia had planned her own wedding, she would have had blue; pale blue. Pale blue had a calming effect on people, no one knew why it just did, and that was why she liked it.
The location was all wrong too, it shouldn’t be set in her home-to-be but her home-that-was, so she could have said a proper goodbye instead of the hurried regretful glance she gave it earlier that day while Nana pulled her roughly into the awaiting car. But on the other hand, she wouldn’t have wanted to blemish the happy memories of the handsome house with such a miserable occasion.
She let the flaps to her changing tent fall back together again and turned to look in the full-length mirror on the other side of the temporary dressing room. It reflected her pale, anxious – yet still beautiful – face and tiny stature crammed into a white, restricting and decidedly hot wedding dress. Not the best thing to wear on a humid summer’s day.
Mother was so proud of her. Her ‘Little Leticia’ was getting married, and to a man of high station with an endless fortune to boot. The perfect husband. Yeah, right. He was a vain, arrogant, heartless and spiteful character. He had cunning and a dark sense of humour, he was handsome and he knew it; using it to charm his way out of any sticky financial situation. In short, he was in love with himself only and always would be; not the kind of man Leticia had hoped to marry.
She had been bullied into the marriage by Father, they needed money and he had been offered a massive dowry for Leticia’s hand in marriage. Father promised her that if she didn’t marry this pig, she would be disowned out of the little wealth that they possessed. If she was poor, then why was this brute so interested in her? She was a pending Duchess and the animal fancied the title of Duke. There were plenty of other single Duchesses but their parents were rich enough so that their daughters could marry for love instead of bailing the family out of debt. He had covered this fact up by declaring that he had chosen her because he wanted a bride almost as pretty as he, so that they could have equally pretty children.
All of this was unbeknownst to Mother, who was in blissful ignorance of Leticia’s lack of happiness and proceeded with the necessary arrangements. Leticia sighed and looked at her reflection. She was surprised by the depth of the sorrow hidden in the pools of her eyes. It was only then she discovered tears rolled down her cheeks, ruining her make-up. Her reverie was interrupted by Nana throwing back the doors to the tent and trilling in her shrieking voice, “There you are, darling. Everyone is ready and waiting for you. Oh!” This last exclamation was almost silent as she realised Leticia was crying...and got completely the wrong idea.
She wasn’t Leticia’s grandmother, oh no, her parents were too important to care for their own daughter so they had hired help. Nana had had a child of her own; Susan, who would have been almost the same age as Leticia if she had lived past her first birthday. In a supposed act of kindness, Leticia’s mother had given her baby to this poor, unfortunate woman to look after as her own. At least, that is how she described it. Leticia just thought it was a mixture of laziness mixed in with spite so she could flaunt the fact that she had a child and Nana didn’t.
Nana walked over to Leticia will a watery smile on her face and enfolded the young girl of twenty in her loving arms. Leticia suppressed a sob and responded, taking all the warmth and strength she could from the simple embrace. She took a deep breath and pulled back after a minute or two and tried to put on a brave face. It held. Just. Nana quickly touched up her make-up while briefly relaying her own experience concerning marriage and saying that it was natural to be a little frightened. Leticia thought ‘little’ was an understatement.
She picked up the roses from the spindly table next to the entrance and took another deep breath before pushing it open. People looked back at her with expectant faces when she revealed herself to the failing light. She put on another of her false smiles that had been honed to a fine art over the years of practice. The dreaded music played and she followed the ghastly red carpet to the marquee, walking slowly and in time to the tempo as instructed. She set her face onto ‘happy mode’ and felt as if she might have to jam the controls beyond repair just to maintain the pretence; otherwise she was sure her hopelessness would get the better of her and ruin the performance.
She approached the grinning imbecile who was to be her husband and prepared herself for giving away what little freedom she had, forever.