Matrimony

So far, the day had been a disaster. What was supposed to be the best day of Gretchen’s life hadn’t gone so great, and she was starting to dread the rest of it. The three layer lemon and vanilla cake hadn’t turned up yet, one of the groomsmen had food poisoning and looked positively green, and Gretchen was starting to have a cramp in her belly that felt like her monthly was on its way. This didn’t bode well. And she still hadn’t put the dress on. 
The dress was on a hanger near the window, staring her down, though she knew it was next. Her auburn hair had been pulled into an updo and sprinkled with pearls, her make-up had been done by a professional, so that she didn’t look like a hooker, and her nails were long and painted. All things that Gretchen, who spent her days in a garden with soil caked under her nails, wasn’t used to.

“Are you ready?” came her mother’s sweet voice as she swept into the room, taking a moment to admire her daughter. The two were alike in their hair and their green eyes, in the splash of freckles that covered their noses and cheeks. Gretchen was tall and thin, Penelope was shorter, curvier. Each beautiful in her own right. Gretchen nodded, and together they tackled the beast of a gown. It was a gorgeous lace mermaid silhouette with a Sabrina neck, a lace cutout on the back. It was perfect, though Gretchen was dreading putting it on for fear that something else was going to go wrong.

Penelope pulled it up and helped her slip her arms through the holes, then started laying the lace out on her daughter’s soft skin, before starting on the buttons. She glanced up and saw the bride’s eyes clenched shut, and she smirked. “Open your eyes, Gretchen. You look beautiful.” Her hands were working to fasten the buttons down the back of the dress, pulling it all together.

Gretchen felt like she was going to vomit, but she let her eyes open and glanced at herself in the mirror first, before taking a long, surprised look. The dress fit. She looked like a bride. Like she was in a fairy tale. She released an audible breath, watching in the mirror as her mother placed a simple lace edged veil in her hair. “Let me fetch your flowers,” Penelope said, turning to the table behind her, where all of the flowers had been laid out. “They say the real flowers are prettier than the simulated ones. You did a good job, picking these out.” She held out the bridal bouquet, a bundle of white lilies surrounded by deep purple poppies. Penelope worked hard to fasten her corsage to her blue gown, then looked up to admire her daughter. “You’re a beautiful bride, my dear. Trixie’s getting herself a lovely wife.” The older woman placed a soft kiss to her daughter’s temple, took her arm, and lead her to the back of the chapel above them, ready to marry off her daughter.

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