As weddings went, this was a good one. Stunning bride. Handsome groom. Both now a little worse for wear of course. The speeches were over. Copious amounts of champagne had been quaffed. Ties and silk cravats were at this very moment being loosened. I peered around the floral centrepiece partially blocking the view from my seat. There was the bride’s father. Now he was on the dance floor, hips grinding as he imitated John Travolta. Shame about the beer belly.
I sighed and withdrew. Sitting back on the velvety upholstered seat, I tuned out the disco music and studied my empty wine glass. The other guests seated with me were strangers. Together we’d laboured through the wedding breakfast, small talk dutifully made. Nobody had voiced it, but it was obvious. This was the singles table. People without partners. The paunchy chap in the check shirt had turned his back on everybody, pretending to be fascinated by the dance floor antics. He was divorced. I had been privately incredulous that anybody had wanted to marry him once. Never mind four times.
The woman in the mustard cardi had made goo-goo eyes at Check Shirt earlier.
‘No I’m not married,’ she’d replied to Check Shirt’s question, all the while masticating a bread roll with her mouth open. ‘I’ve been saving myself for the right one.’ She’d smiled toothily at him, unaware of the bread lodged between her front teeth.
‘More wine?’ asked the chap next to me.
Warm vinegar wasn’t really my tipple. ‘Why not,’ I smiled. My table companion sloshed the liquid into the glass. And over half the tablecloth.
I laughed politely. Dear God. Was this my lot then? Going to other people’s weddings? Watching other people celebrate togetherness? A lump lodged in my throat.
‘Excuse me,’ I said to my table companion, ‘just need to powder my nose.’ I fled. Tears threatened. The last thing I needed was to break down. Not in public. You see, this wedding should have been mine. The bridegroom had once been my fiancé. Yes really. We’d dated ever since Year 7 at school. And the bride? My best friend. I’d known her forever too. When Sam and I had announced our engagement, Jules had been thrilled for us. So how had it all gone wrong?
I banged the toilet door shut. Ripping off a stream of toilet paper, I blew my nose. Not now Cathy. Don’t get emotional. Not on their big day. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself. I dabbed my eyes. Took some deep breaths.
It had been me who’d broken off the engagement and cancelled the wedding. Cold feet. That’s what my father had called it.
‘Everybody doubts at some point lass,’ he’d put an arm around me. ‘Pre-wedding nerves.’
Except it hadn’t been that. I’d just suddenly realised that Sam wasn’t the man for me. Oh I loved him. Had done for years. But like a brother. And realisation had dawned: women don’t marry their brothers. Sam had been devastated. Until Jules had tentatively taken his hand. Squeezed it gently. Looked at him with hope. And love. Real love. And Sam had responded. He’d lit up like a Christmas tree. That was what had hurt the most. How quickly I’d been forgotten. A dented ego. Not something to be proud of really.
I scrunched up the tissue and tossed it down the toilet. I loved Jules and Sam. Wanted them to be happy. It would just be so nice to meet my own Mr Right. And not be seated at the Singles Table with Check Shirt, Mustard Cardi and Wine Slopper.
Rinsing my hands, I contemplated my reflection in the mirror. More lipstick. I foraged around in my bag and applied a shimmering layer of Passion – the only passion in my life at the moment. I’d had enough. Time to go home. I’d say my farewells, hug Jules and Sam and then slip away.
Exiting the powder room, I cannoned straight into a bulky body.
‘I do beg your pardon,’ said a deep voice.
‘No really, my fault,’ I assured.
My stomach flipped as I gazed up into a pair of eyes the colour of melting chocolate. Disco music filtered down the carpeted corridor. Suddenly the record changed. The opening bars of Love Is All Around filled the air.
‘My name’s Luke.’
‘Cathy,’ I replied.
‘Well Cathy. Would you like to dance?
Like I said earlier... as weddings went, this was a good one.
©Debbie Viggiano 2011