I wore my mother’s wedding dress, although it was old and worn and more grey now than white. I wasn’t pure anyway, I figured, as I tied the lace into a bow. My garter itched, and turned the top of my thigh red: but it was something blue, so it would do.
I would have worn my father’s wedding suit, if my brother hadn’t already. Besides, it would never have fit me, and I was not my father. The sun glinted upon the mirror as I tried to peer into it, but I couldn’t see myself.
Pearls, they had said. Pearls are what you wear on your wedding day. But I couldn’t afford pearls, and the replicas looked cheap against my already paper-white skin. “Beautiful,” Annie whispered, but Annie would. She could afford pearls. She could say whatever she wanted. I straightened them out so that they didn’t hang like a noose around my neck.
Who knew cufflinks would be the most difficult part of the day? Callie had said my outfit had to be perfect, down to the last cufflink, but what’s a perfect cufflink meant to look like? Harry said mine were fine, but Harry was single and had a bachelor’s mind. I debated taking them off, throwing them into the drain, throwing my whole suit into the drain, screaming to the skies, but I decided that would be childish, and Callie would not approve of me being childish on our wedding day. Instead I ignored my cufflinks and straightened my tie, tightening it so that it felt like a noose around my neck.
It’s odd, how you’re not allowed to arrive on time to your own wedding. “No-no-no-no-no,” Mum said, quite emphatically. “And God forbid if you’d tried to go early.” Aunt Kathryn shook her head like a rolling dice. “Uh-uh.” “Calandra; there are rules to this wedding malarkey. If you arrive early, you’re desperate. If you arrive on time, you’re still acting pretty rash. Ten minutes late, well, you could be less desperate, but you’ll do. Twenty minutes late, perfect. Half an hour late, you’re pushing it. Forty minutes late, okay, time to arrive now. Later, we’re all bored; we just want a bloody marriage already. Do you see?” No, I did not, but like all else in this wedding malarkey I nodded my head in agreement. “So when’s the car arriving?” I asked. “At two,” Mum replied. So when the wedding was due to start? Sensible. Real sensible.
Where was she already? The priest looked perfectly calm, rereading the Gospel according to Mark quietly to himself. I, on the other hand, was not calm. Relax and bloody well learn to breathe, I reminded myself, as Dad whispered, “brides are always late” into my ear. Were they? Was that the norm? I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember any wedding other than my own: mocking me with its own bridelessness. The church smelt like incense, a cocoon around my nostrils, and I was yet to have a wife. I had wanted to visit her in the morning, to tell her... I don’t know. To tell her anything. And to make sure she was still happy. To make sure that she still wanted this. But she couldn’t and she didn’t and she was running away and she must hate me and – oh, a car. Her mother. She’s here. Right. So that’s that then.
I have never been so scared of my own imperfections. What I won’t have done right. What I’ll have forgotten about.
I have never been so scared of my own imperfections. What she expected of me, what everyone expected of me. Was I a husband? What is a husband, after all?
And as I entered the church I realised he was more handsome than any prince, he was wonderful, he was mine. He was not the moon or the stars or the sun, but I gravitated towards him, my smile stretching like wings across my face.
And as she entered the church I realised she was beautiful, fantastical, she was Godiva, she was Elizabeth, she was herself. She was mine. She was the grey in my hair and the wrinkles on my cheeks, but mostly the beam upon my lips.
All the days of my life.
Until death do us part.