Something Borrowed (fiction)
It was here, the day we had planned six months ago. For the first time in years, I prayed to God, thanking him for this bright, pleasantly warm, mildly breezy Friday afternoon that could not have been more perfect. I’m not very religious, but I figure that if I’m about to get married in a church, I might as well try to make amends with the Divine Being.
I stood in front of the full length mirror found in the hotel room. As my hair was being pulled in various directions, I gave myself a quick up-and-down. I was wearing my mother’s wedding dress. It was my something old. As we had both happily agreed, the ivory satin played better with my light brown skin than the stark white of a traditional gown would have. There were lace flowers on the bodice and upper part of the dress as well as on the sleeves that extended down to my elbows. My shoulders were bare. The flowers continued from my waist down one side of my dress, right about where my right leg would be, if there weren’t layers of mesh and satin in between. It wasn’t a ball gown, but it did have a degree of puff to it and I was pleased with the way it pooled around my feet in a perfect circle of material. It wouldn’t, of course, be like that when I walked. I still had to slip my feet into the four-inch blue wedges that I’d picked out for myself. My something blue, as it were.
My friend released the last piece of hair from the hot iron of the curler and let it fall. It settled right by the corner of my eye, mirroring the strand on the opposite side. I amused myself for a moment by sending a puff of air first to the left, then to the right, watching the gentle curls fly up and then fall back into place. I could feel the light pressure of the bun against my neck and asked to see it. After spending what seemed like hours in the chair (not to mention being taken care of a fantastic hairdresser), I was fully prepared to see something exquisite, but when she held up a small mirror to reflect the back of my head into the larger mirror in front of me, I nearly lost my breath. It was…
With some inhuman talent, the woman had gathered a mere fraction of my hair together until it resembled lace on the top of my head. The rest of it had been twisted and pinned and braided until it finally resembled a sleek, black rose. As a final touch, she had added small blue gems through the hairstyle and, as I turned my head from side to side, the light from the chandelier made them sparkle.
I caught her eye in the mirror and tried to say thank you. The words stuck in my throat, so I could only smile broadly and hope she had seen my face when she had done the final reveal, because that was the only way I could have shown her my gratitude.
She had and she understood. But she wasn’t done. With a little more flair than was probably necessary, she pulled my veil out of its box and raised her eyebrow questioningly. I giggled and gave a slow nod of assent. The veil was my something new. The one that matched the dress had been lost years before in a flood. My mother never blamed me, but I never forgave myself. At eighteen, I had been at the beginning of my relationship with my soon-to-be husband and, therefore, had let my inner romantic out. I begged her to let me try on her dress, which she allowed with no resistance at all. It was that day I had decided I wanted to wear it at my wedding. But when I put it all back, I left some of the veil hanging out of the box, and by the time we’d grabbed it, the dirty water had already done its damage.
The last pin was placed to secure the thin material to my hair when someone knocked at the door. We both turned towards the door in surprise. I hadn’t ordered anything, nor had I expected a visitor for another hour. Before I could open my mouth to let them come in, my companion rushed to the door and opened it.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. In my mind, it sounded rather harsh and I detected the slightest hint of irritation.
The sound of my fiancé’s voice rushed over my ears, saying, “Do I have to tell everyone what I’m doing everywhere I go? Honestly, with the way people ask, you’d think we were in a military-grade prison, not a wedding venue.”
I grabbed onto the back of a nearby chair to stop myself from running to him as he pushed his way easily past the door guard. I could feel a smile growing on my lips. He cleaned up well, my fiancé. His normally unruly brown hair had undergone a haircut and was combed to lay relatively flat against his head. His tux fit deliciously snugly against his body and, when I caught his vibrant blue eyes, they held that cheeky twinkle that I’d fallen in love with, and he winked. He knew what I was thinking.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” I admonished lightly.
“I will be where I want,” he returned, knowing full well that neither he nor I cared about the wedding superstition. “And where I want to be right now is here. I need to talk to you.”
I glanced to the door, where the woman who was my hairdresser, makeup artist, loyal friend, and maid of honor stood. “It’s all right. It’ll only be a few minutes. He’s not likely to kill me.”
He shrugged his shoulders noncommittally, but she left anyway, saying she’d be right outside if I needed anything. I turned my attention back to the man in front of me. Clasping my hands in front of me, I smiled seductively. “What does the blushing bridegroom want?”
He took two steps to close the distance between us and kissed me. I wrapped my arms around his neck to pull him closer. I loved the feeling of his lips on mine and the pressure of his hands on my waist. After a few seconds that felt like years, he gave me a final peck before pulling away.
“I wanted to give you something,” he said, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a black box.
In a fit of confusion and sudden, inexplicable paranoia, I blurted, “You can’t have the ring back. I like it and I’m keeping it and we’re getting married today.”
He stared at me for a minute, eyebrows knitted, and mouth open in surprise. “No, stupid,” he finally said, “I’m giving you something, not taking something.”
I felt ridiculous for my outburst and bit my lip in embarrassment. Of course he wasn’t going to break off the wedding an hour before it happened. Could you even do that? I grabbed the edges of his jacket to pull myself closer. “Sorry,” I muttered.
He kissed me again to make me look at him. “Here.” He opened the box. It was only after I saw the piece inside that I realized the box wasn’t small, like the type rings come in. It was long, like the type you lay a bracelet in.
And that’s exactly what was there. A stretch of gold chain rested on a bed of black velvet. At every third chain link was an emerald, about half the size of my pinky nail. Each emerald was surrounded by a circle of diamonds. It was gorgeous.
“What is this?” I asked foolishly.
As always, he purposely ignored my real meaning and gave me the most obvious answer (to my rather obvious question). “It’s a bracelet. You wear it on your wrist.” He gave me a boyish smirk and I rolled my eyes in response.
In a more serious tone, he said, “It was my mom’s. My dad gave it to her at their wedding and, I thought, since I plan to be with you for a long time, and I hope you won’t think about leaving me, I’d give it to you. It means a lot to me. She… she meant a lot. And so do you.”
He broke his gaze and stared at the bracelet in his hands. Tough as he acted, my man – who was really still a boy at heart – was actually overcome with emotion. I brushed his cheek lightly.
“I know you love her and I have no doubt she loved you as much, if not more. She was an amazing woman,” I said, basing my fact on the stories I’d heard and the pictures I’d seen. “I would have loved to meet her.”
“She would have liked you.”
I smiled, giddy with the feeling that statement left me. “I would love to wear it.”
He took the extravagant piece of jewelry from its resting place and clasped it around my outstretched wrist. Despite the number of stones, it was surprisingly light. I pulled my arm back and twisted the bracelet, enjoying the way the light reflected off it. I was about to say thank you when he lifted my chin with a finger and kissed me again.
“I’ll see you at the altar.” He meant for it to be a nonchalant statement, but it sounded more like a question. He had reached the door when I suddenly called out his name. I lifted the material around my feet and shuffled my way to him, not caring about the undignified way I looked. I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him as tight as I could, pressing my face into his neck, inhaling his scent. When I pulled way to look at his face, I realized he was blurry; there were tears in my eyes.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”