“WHERE is she?” he asked through gritted teeth.
It was taking too long. The people in the packed church were straining their necks abnormally towards the empty entrance to the aisle.
The women uncomfortably adjusted their Sunday best, the children were shooed and told to be quiet, the men wiped the hot sweat from their eyebrows and still the entrance remained bare.
He stood unmoving, motionless like time itself had frozen. He wished that was the case.
He wished the whole snow-themed wedding was frozen so he could shatter it to pieces.
Shatter the white roses, lilies and freesia she loved so much; the ancient, bleached carpet she had shipped over from Bulgaria for the wedding; and, most of all, the ridiculously outfitted long lost cousins and an uncle she’d insisted on inviting. Him recently released from a mental asylum on the outskirts of the city.
Those whackos didn’t know what crazy was. He’d show them, he’d….
He stopped himself and sucked a silent breath.
“Any minute now she’ll be here,” he reassured his pale-faced best man. His unfaltering and confident smile was a huge contrast to his innards which were currently in throwing up mode - bile circled and swirled around the base of his throat.
His trachea involuntarily contracted and he feel an nervous ash-like taste on the dry aureoles of his tongue.
He sucked in another breath and a whiff of freesia from a pew side bouquet caused his heart to miss a beat.
He smelt the perfume of her hair when they first made love, the warm exotic aroma that left him intoxicated. He felt the wild grass on the soles of his feet as he raced her to the picnic basket.
Her eyes were brown on a normal day but, if she stood in the sun, the light glinted and turned them an orange hue.
He remembered how she had jumped the low rugby field fence and raced to him when he broke his leg. She had been twenty meters ahead of the first-aid medic.
She would come; he knew it.
Reality brought him back. The silence was eerie; it felt like a funeral. The continuous glances from the congregation fuelled his anxiety. A decaying numbness took hold of him, wavering on the boundary between emotional and physical pain.
He’d lost the feeling in his toes, the bone and connecting sinew were bloodless like he’d gone to sleep and woken up with an amputated foot.
All eyes were on him. The flutter of gloved fingers on dresses ceased; handkerchiefs returned to pockets; even the children leaned forward in apprehension. He had been so composed but now they noticed the heavy sacks under his eyes, the quivering mouth and the long shallow breaths. They knew he was reaching breaking- point.
He looked into their sympathetic eyes and yet down and wide rows not one of them held his.
“Johnnie, can you go and, uhmm, yeah, can you go check if she left a note?” He sent his best man on the mission and part of him went too.
He remembered how she sang and the way she looked at him like he was the only guy on Earth. He needed morphine. The thirty-four carat sapphire-studded ring rolled between his thumb and forefinger.
His stomach felt like it had been thumped by a Mohammed Ali punch.
He staggered slightly. A dejected certainty flooded through his brain like a virus. He yearned for one glance at that piece of paper telling him she had gone. Yet he refuses to surrender, not until he saw the note. He lived for that piece of paper. “Where is that darned fool,” he whimpered. “How long does it take to find a piece of paper?”
Something was wrong.
A burst of adrenaline pushed him forward as he headed for the exit, his glance brushing over the grandeur of the flower arrangement. Lilies straight and proud, the roses, savings the freesias for last.
The freesias start to dance to the melody of a gust of wind and he slowed, all his attention on a single freesia pushed by the wind to the floor.
He reached for it. A white laced hand got there first.
His gaze traced the sequined slender arms to the perfect crook of her elbow where the gloves curved to a stop. His eyes ran over her backless gown and her freesia scented skin drowned him.
He’s in heaven.
“Sorry babe, wardrobe malfunction,” she said.