Holly sat in the bathtub, tears racing down her crimson cheeks. It was over. She wasn’t to be a bridesmaid as her best friend married. She held her head in her hands, and watched through blurry eyes as the heavy tears dropped from her chin down towards her feet. What a waste the whole week had been. It was all she had thought about, and it had been snatched away from her by the bride of all people!
She was sat scratching her leg, wallowing in her misery, when suddenly a harsh reverberation sang from the far end of the bath. It was Suzanne’s phone again. She picked it up and looked at the caller ID. Ella. She didn’t want to talk to Ella in this state. She was probably at the church wondering where she was. She refused the call and put the phone down on her knee.
A few moments passed, and just as Holly was returning to her melancholy rhythm, the phone began to vibrate once more. She looked at the screen, and saw that it was Ella again.
“What?” she murmured down the line.
“Suze? Is that you?”
“No it’s me. Holly.”
“Oh, hey Holly. Could you pass a message on?”
Holly said nothing, so Ella kept talking.
“I’m not going to make it. The guy I was getting a lift down with deserted me at a service station.”
“Why?” asked Holly quietly.
“No idea. He seemed pretty edgy though. Anyway, I might make it for dinner if I can get a ride. Give Suze my love.”
“Bye.” Said Holly, dropping the phone to the bathroom floor.
One bridesmaid. Poor Suzanne.
She lifted herself to her feet, and wandered into the room, looking for the whiskey Suzanne had been drinking the night before. She found the bottle under the bed, and seeing that it was empty, sank onto the mattress. She began crying again, and looked across the room. The last six hours had been a total catastrophe.
Through the hazy veil of tears she spotted a sliver of lilac in the wardrobe. She looked to the floor behind her to see her stained dress, and then went to investigate the vein of colour. It was Ella’s dress! And she wouldn’t be using it! Why hadn’t they thought of it before? It was so obvious.
She pulled the t-shirt over her head, and looked in the mirror to check her hair. It still looked rather elegant and suddenly it dawned on her: she was going to the wedding!
Luke was incandescent with rage. How could Alex treat his best man like that? And only minutes before the wedding! Across the churchyard he caught a glimpse of Alex’s figure, and continued to walk purposefully towards the gate.
He entered the yard, followed the path to the entrance, and stopped a metre in front of Alex.
“Alex, can I have a word with you?” he said in a low, displeased voice.
“Luke!” replied Alex excitedly. “You ready?”
“I need to talk to you first.”
Alex noticed the anger in Luke’s eyes, and speedily ushered him over to his parents.
“Look, Claire and Stan are here!” he said, smiling slyly.
They exchanged pleasantries, and Claire suggested that they should take their places in the hall. Luke agreed, but as he entered the church, he seethed with rage. He was so unbearably sneaky! A most vile creature. He began to fill his head with transcripts of the rollicking he would give him later on, but it wouldn’t dampen the flames of fury.
Alex remained outside the church, and offered an apologetic nod when the dishevelled Dean rushed in.
“Sorry Dear, we’re still a bit early.”
Suzanne had been sitting in the back of the car for almost five minutes. If she had known, she would have been able to sort her hair out, or just relax for a few moments, but instead she was in a small saloon with a silent driver.
She was fidgeting with the hem of her dress when suddenly she heard a desperate voice shouting her name. It was Holly, dashing out of the B&B, wearing another dress. It was a little too long for her, and slightly too loose, but she looked presentable, and Suzanne leant over to open the door for her.
“Where’d you get that from?” she asked confusedly.
“It’s Ella’s. She’s not going to make it. Something about her lift.”
”Oh?” Suzanne’s bemusement gave way to a smile. “Flakey Ella.”
The hall was now nearly full, and Alex smiled at a job well done. He paced up and down in the April sun, straightened his tie, and checked his phone. No messages. It was all going ahead.
A straggler was making his way towards the church along the lane, but he seemed to slow as he approached the gate. Alex made his way over to him, and as he did he saw how worried he looked.
“Bride or Groom?” he asked politely.
“Erm, Bride. Is she around, I’d like to wish her luck.” Said Steven, quaking with nerves.
“I’m afraid you won’t be able to talk to her before the ceremony. Sit to the left of the aisle please.”
“I really must talk to her.” Alex was slightly confused by the fear in his eyes, and tiring of the conversation.
“Please, sir. Either go in and sit down, or leave. You may not speak to her before the ceremony.”
“But I have to!” said Steven desperately.
“Why?” asked Alex coldly.
Steven was silent for a second. He couldn’t tell him the real reason, but couldn’t think of any reasonable excuse. Sensing Alex’s impatience he stammered:
“I…It’s Just I…I have to tell her something.”
With these words it all came together in Alex’s mind. Another of Suzanne’s former lovers. There was something about her which inspired terrific devotion from the strangest of people.
“Ok, go in and sit down, or leave.”
“No. I have to…”
Alex took a step closer to him.
“No,” said Steven desperately. “You can’t.”
Alex pushed his hand into Steven’s chest, and he fell back a step.
“Where is she? I have to talk to her!”
“Don’t make a scene sir. It’s pathetic.”
Steven did not fully know why, but he found a desperate anger in him. He had to talk to Suzanne, and this man was stopping him. He had to do something, but he was powerless. Alex stepped closer to him again, and he stepped back. He had no choice. Steven pulled his arm back, and hit the man in the jaw.
Alex stumbled back a little, but remained on his feet. Steven regretted his actions immediately. It wasn’t even a good punch, and now he stood no chance of talking to Suzanne. Alex closed in on him, and grabbed him by his shirt.
“Suzanne doesn’t love you.” He said, before powering his fist into the centre of Steven’s face. He crumpled to the ground, and Alex kicked him to the side of the path.
“You are pathetic!” he spat. “Trying to stop a wedding at the church. What did you think would happen? You’d meet Suze at the door, tell her you loved her, and you’d both run away? Absurd.”
Alex’s foot hit Steven’s gut once more and he curled up with pain.
“Why do you think she’s marrying Luke? Why would she care about you? You’re not the man she loves. Isn’t it obvious?”
Alex’s smart black shoes were dashed with blood as they struck Steven’s bleeding face.
“Why didn’t she ever mention you? Who even are you? Don’t you understand anything about human emotions? It’s embarrassing!”
He dragged Steven up and propped his unconscious body against a gravestone.
“Prick.” He muttered, as we walked back to the church door. A few moments later another latecomer arrived, and Alex calmly asked them:
“Bride or groom?”
Suzanne climbed from the car, and followed Holly to the church door, not noticing Steven’s unconscious body in the churchyard. She smiled weakly at Ana, who then went on her way with her basket of flowers, before filing in behind Holly and Freya on her father’s arm. She held a straight face, and quaked with every step she took down the aisle. Time stretched unbearably before her, and she was thankful to meet Luke’s also trembling hand at the altar. Their united hands were visibly shaking as silence fell and the ceremony began.
Stan went and took his place next to Claire, and as the vicar spoke, they both felt a weight being lifted from them.
The bridesmaids looked on proudly as Suzanne calmed, and Dean grinned over at the bridesmaids.
Alex sat at the back of the congregation, massaging his knuckles and smiling gently.
Ana sat down in the front row next to Robbie, whose heart leapt higher than ever before as she slipped her hand into his.