The best day of my life started with blustery August heat. My hair exploded into a frizzy mess of curls like a wig of poodle fur. The sudden heat wave killed all of the flowers in Manhattan so my Man of Honor picked up a plastic bouquet of waxy pink roses. My dress could barely fit over my fluffy head and my make-up smeared all over the inside of it. Luckily the outside was still white. As I climbed into my cab with my Man of Honor and our son, I pulled the divorce papers out of my puffy 80’s style sleeves and handed them to my Man of Honor aka soon-to-be-ex-husband. He pulled a pen from his suit pocket and signed the papers. Then he handed the cab driver a disposable camera. “Would you take our divorce pictures?” He asked. The driver grumbled, but took the picture at the next red light. In the back seat my son started wailing.
“Stop crying! You are seven years old! Seven year olds don’t cry!” My Man of Honor snapped.
Our son wiped his snotty nose on the sleeve of his white tuxedo jacket leaving a gooey green smear along the sleeve. My Man of Honor pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and threw it at our son. “Clean that up. You’re running your mother’s wedding day!”
“Michael, stop yelling at him!” I huffed. Even with the divorce papers signed, his presence suffocated me.
“I’m sorry, Jill. I just want this wedding to be perfect.” Michael said dabbing at his brow with the end of his blush pink tie.
“It will be. Were you this nervous for our wedding?” I asked.
“Of course! I picked out the flower arrangements and the cake and the ring and your dress which looked fabulous by the way. I stressed out for months about the venue and it still wasn’t perfect.” Michael ranted. I remembered. He wouldn’t let me do anything; he made sure that I never had to lift a finger…
“Michael, it was a very nice wedding.” I assured him. His smile made up for every one of his insufferable imperfections.
As we pulled up to the cold marble church, Michael exclaimed, “There’s your prince! How romantic! He’s going to open the door for you…Wait! He can’t see you yet! It’s bad luck!”
“It’s only bad luck for the first wedding.” I rolled my eyes.
My groom, Henry, stood prim and dapper in his pressed tuxedo with a navy bowtie. He had insisted that our wedding colors be navy and pink. The cab driver ran over the curb and Henry opened the door. My son hopped out and ran into the church. With Henry on one arm and Michael on the other, I was escorted into the church and down the aisle.
On one side of the church was Henry’s rich, stuffy family decked in jewels and pearls. On the other side was my fragile, bone-thin mother clutching a blue balloon with my father’s picture pasted on it and my second cousin Tonya, a nun who sleeps in the church. My pointy heels clicked on the tile as I made the lethargic walk down the lengthy aisle. Henry’s sisters were supposed to be my bridesmaids, but they had gone on a weekend trip to Paris. His brother was supposed to be his best man, but he had gotten in a car accident on the way to the church. It was a fender-bender. Nothing serious. I had wanted to postpone the wedding, but Henry had insisted. “Nothing will stop this wedding.” Henry, the influential business man, would never change his mind or his plans.
At the altar the dust, wheezing priest read the vows and had us repeat them. “If there are any objections, speak now or forever hold your-“
Bang! “I OBJECT!” Screeching from the doorway was an unsightly woman wearing a gothic black dress that trailed along the floor. Her raven black hair stuck up at odd angles and dirt smeared her face.
“Melissa?” Henry gasped. His family stood up and cheered. Whistling like they were at a sports game, they rushed forward and hoisted Melissa up into the air.
“Put me down!” She shrieked. They dropped her on the altar between Henry and me.
Melissa glared at Henry. “I read your obituary back in Seattle. I was attending your funeral as a grieving widow when the police stumbled across your wedding invitation and paid me a visit. How dare you do this to me!” Her shaking voice rose in octaves until it was piercing. Henry sunk to his knees cowering away from her. She wrestled the Bible from the priest’s hands and flung it at Henry. Dodging the book her ran and locked himself inside the confessional booth. Coiling like a cobra Melissa lunged at me and wrapped her sausage-like fingers around my throat.
The church erupted in screams. Curse words flew from my mother’s mouth, and she let go of my father’s balloon. Cheering and applause echoed from Henry’s family. “Beat her! Beat her!”
“Nooooo!” Michael jumped onto Melissa’s back and wrapped his legs around her. She stumbled under his weight, but didn’t yield. He fell backwards and crashed into Henry’s family. Henry’s father shoved Michael out of the way and the family surrounded Melissa and me.
“How dare you marry my husband!” Melissa clawed at my wedding dress ripping off the sleeves. Her hands found my neck again. Her face swam in front of me. Her eyes burst with rage. For a moment I thought I saw a forked tongue flick out of her mouth.
Then my mother smashed a basin of holy water over Melissa’s head. Her skin bubbled and she fell. I ran for the confessional booth. But it was empty except for the glint of Henry’s wedding ring and a croaking ugly toad.