Sweat trickles down Mama’s back soaking her floral dress. With her sausage fingers she fans herself with the wedding pamphlets. I push at my lacey socks with my feet. “Stop that!” Mama swats my knee.
“Buuuuuut Maaaaama!” I whine tugging at the collar of my frilly dress. “It’s hoooot!”
“I don’t care if we are in the desert! You keep your shoes and socks on!” Mama smacks me with the pamphlets.
I scrunch up my face like a pug. “No, no, no!”
Mama glances down the aisle. “Is that girl coming yet?”
The groom, my brother, frowns. “Mama, the wedding doesn’t start for five minutes.”
“Hmph, that girl ain’t ever on time.” Mama wipes sweat from her forehead. “Why did she want a wedding outside? It’s hot and there’s bugs!”
My eyes bulge. “Bugs?! Ahhhhhhhh!”
Mama clamps her hand over my mouth. “Stop that shriekin’.”
My brother tugs at his jacket sleeves. “Mama, I wanted the outside wedding, not Amelia.”
“Hmph, then maybe that girls got some sense after all.”
A groomsman barrels down the aisle and whispers urgently into my brother’s ear. My brother pales. “What? What’s wrong, William?!” Mama jumps up knocking her folding chair over.
William’s voice cracks. “Sit, Mother.”
Mama sinks back down into her chair as William hurries down the aisle. I slip past Mama and follow him weaving in and out of well-dressed legs. William walks into the small cottage just a stretch away from the wedding guests. No one notices when I slide in after him.
The inside of the cottage is a well-lit, one room powder room with a full length mirror and a few plush vanity stools. Amelia is standing in front of the mirror with her dress half-laced and her mother shaking on one of the stools. William runs to Amelia. “William!” she gasps. “It won’t fit.”
“Amelia,” he stares into her eyes and I watch unable to understand.
Tears roll down her face as she guides his hand to her stomach. William presses his forehead to hers. “It’s ours?”
“Then why should we be ashamed of it?”
Amelia looks up at him. “But your mother…”
“We will run away. It’s you and me and our baby for forever.” William smiles.
My fingers tingle as I back away and return to Mama. I don’t tell her. Even after they disappear I don’t tell her. Even when the wedding dissolves into a thunderstorm I don’t tell her. And as I stand alone at Mama’s funeral I whisper good-bye. But I don’t tell her.