As wedding dresses went, this one was beautiful, a true work of art. It was strapless and of the palest blue, almost white. The bodice was fitted with hand stitched tiny pearls that made the gown shimmer and sparkle. The veil itself was an heirloom and made of lace. The gown had been made to compliment the veil and it all looked perfect. As per her specifications, a long train had been made for her walk down the aisle. All in all, the dress was perfect.
This did not explain why she couldn’t bring herself to wear it.
Once again, she turned her back to it and paced around the room. Once, twice and back again. She shouldn’t even be here, she thought. She was supposed to be asleep. Her wedding was scheduled to be five hours from now. As it was, her helpers would be arriving within the hour to help her look radiant on her wedding day to the man of her dreams.
There was no question about it. She loved David and he loved her. Marrying him was a dream come true for her and a testament to their love story. Why was it, then, that she felt such panic? Such an overwhelming desire to run and never look back?
The Runaway Bride did it, and the aptly named movie had had a happy ending after all, right? This could totally work. She’d dress in something more comfortable than pajamas and a robe and hit the road. Her suitcase was even already packed to go with her to her husband’s home. One less thing to do now. Of course she would leave the dress as a sign of goodwill and some sort of peace offering. She could be gone in ten minutes and none would be the wiser.
Stop it, you are better than this, she ordered herself.
‘’Linda, honey, are you up here?’’ She’d been so preoccupied with her thoughts not to notice someone was climbing the steps, and then her father stepped into the doorway. “I thought I saw a light in here. What are you doing here, anyway? You should be asleep. Or are you too excited to sleep? “He asked her.
She made a halfhearted shrug and chuckled nervously. Hopefully he couldn’t see the thoughts running through her head.
He stepped more fully into the room and could now see her clearly. “What is it? What’s wrong? ”
There went hope. She should have known. Her father had always been very close to her and highly attuned to her emotions. He could usually tell by looking into her eyes exactly what she was feeling.
“It’s probably nothing. I’m just being silly. You know how I get sometimes. ”
He would reserve judgment on that. He knew his daughter very well. While she was prone to being over dramatic and creating problems where none existed, he could see from the shadows in her eyes and lines of strain on her face that whatever it was, it was serious.
“Well, be as it may, since we’re both up, why don’t you just tell me what is on your mind? Let me decide if it is nothing or not. ”
She paced around the room once again. Maybe it was time she shared some of her doubts with someone. She was glad it was her father; for she could be sure he would listen and give her the best course of action.
“I can’t stop thinking about the wedding. I’m terrified, papa. ”
“Now, child, tell me, what do you have to fret about?’’
‘’I just don’t know if I can go through with this anymore’’
‘’Is that all? Honey, those are just wedding jitters. Every bride has them, I’m told. When you step in front of the altar tomorrow and look into he eyes of your beloved, YOU will be too busy thinking of starting your life together to worry about nerves and such. You’ll see.’’
‘That’s just it, papa. I don’t think I’ll be standing in front of that altar tomorrow. I’d planned to just run away before anyone woke up, but since you’re here, tell everyone I’m sorry and that I really tried.’’
‘’What are you going on about now?’’ There was a thread of impatience in his voice now. ‘’Tell you what. Why don’t we just sit down and you can tell me what’s really troubling you.’’ He sat down on the sofa and waited for her to sit beside him. If he knew his daughter at all, she would blurt out what was in her mind in five, four, three, two, one…
‘’I just don’t think that I can sustain a marriage.’’ There was real distress in her voice.
‘’What gave you that idea?’’
‘’Well, I read somewhere that men like quiet, biddable women who can cook, clean and be barefoot and pregnant most of the time. I can’t cook, I can barely clean and I am the furthest thing from biddable ever. As for barefoot and pregnant, certainly not for a few years. And have you read of the divorce statistics lately? They’re spiking through the roof. I mean, sure we say that we are in love, now, but will we still feel the same two days from now? Two weeks? Two years? What guarantee do I have that someday I won’t be just another statistic?’’
What was a man to do but laugh after hearing such a speech? He laughed until tears of hilarity were flowing down his face and he almost fell off the couch, while she looked on as if he had lost his head. When he could get his breath back, he shifted to look at her.
‘’ As a man, let me say that the person who wrote that book is a bloody fool. Men think that’s what we want, but if we got it, we would be bored stiff within a day.’’
‘’Quiet. You always have to pick everything apart, don’t you? Get that from your mother, bless her. Now,’’ he continued calmly, ‘’as your father, let me give you some advice. There are no guarantees in this life. If you find a good thing, you hold on to it as long as you can. Do you love him?’’
‘’Of course I do.’’ What a silly question.
‘’Obviously he loves you, because he chose to spend the rest of his life with you, ‘flaws’ and all,’’ he said, with a twinkle in his eyes. ‘’Who’s to say he’s not right now awake, pacing as you were, asking himself the same questions and doubting himself.’’
‘’ Really?’’ That had never been a possibility in her mind, but the thought of it now made her feel more at ease.
‘’ If you weren’t nervous, then there would be a problem. This shows that you care and will continue to care.’’ He laid a hand over her arm. ‘’Marriage is a risky undertaking, I will not lie. There will be days you love, days you fight and other days you will not want to see each other. But if you both put in the effort, I can promise you the love will come out on top. And that’s what counts, right?’’
He was right. She could see it now, and it did not frighten. She was ready.
East Africa Friday Feature Prompt: Risk: What’s your interpretation of Risk? A gamble on something.
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