by Alicia Evans
Sharon contemplated calling the whole thing off so many times before. She finally accepted her fate, as she let out a quiet sigh. Sharon ran both hands down the front and sides of her dress, an act that she often used to calm her nerves. She was fitted for her wedding dress two months ago, but today she had to add an extra spandex waist trainer. “If only you lost those last three pounds,” she could hear her mother say. Sharon looked in the bedazzled mirror and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Absolutely nothing could be out of place today. She forced a wide smile on her face and prayed that no one noticed the dark clouds in her eyes.
When she walked into the room, Sharon caught a whiff of the gardenias that engulfed the bridal suite. The scent triggered a feeling of sadness. There were over fifty gardenia floral arrangements at her mother’s funeral: her mother’s favorite flowers. Kenneth said it would be a good idea to double the amount of flowers from that day, on their wedding day.
The room buzzed with activity: her bridesmaids in one corner sipping champagne and laughing and the two photographers walking around snapping pictures. As Sharon reached for her bouquet, the hair on the back of her neck stood up.
Sharon had planned her fairytale wedding since age nine. Nothing overlooked, except what to do when the groom plans everything. Sharon lived her life preparing to meet her king. Attended a Historically Black College, got a good job, always dressed to impress because she never knew where he may be. The day Sharon met Kenneth she knew he was the one. He met all her requirements. He was attentive to her needs and wants. He delighted in Sharon spending every free moment with him. Sharon thought his affection for her was special. It was not until this last year that things changed. Now, according to Kenneth, Sharon could not do anything right. When she cooked, it was either not cooked well enough or overcooked. He acted one way in the privacy of their home but then a totally different way in the public’s eye. Kenneth was the king chameleon.
“All relationships have their problems,” her mother told her one night, when Sharon went to her crying and scared. Problems were one thing, but this was something else. After a fight Kenneth would always cry and apologize. He would shower her with lavish gifts and declare his love for her. Sharon had wondered if Kenneth’s domineering and abusive personality was always there.
He even insisted that he take Sharon to David’s Bridal to shop for her wedding dress. What should have been a special day between Sharon and her maid of honor Chantel, Kenneth instead found a way to impose himself into the festivities. Kenneth chose a Cinderella style dress with a long train, which Sharon hated. She preferred the Mermaid style dress with a detachable train. After two hours Kenneth stormed out of the showroom, threatening that she could get home on her own. With her head hung she walked back to the fitting room. In a low voice with her back towards the attendant she whispered, “I say yes to the Cinderella dress with the twelve foot train.”
Chantel entered the bridal suite and rushed towards Sharon. She sensed something was wrong by the grave look on Chantel’s face.
Chantel’s mouth moved but Sharon did not hear anything Chantel said. Sharon focused her attention on the bouquet of gardenias. These were her mother’s favorite flowers, not hers, she thought. Her mother thought Kenneth was the best her daughter could do. The date was set, the room booked, and Kenneth had made the final payment for the reception. Two months ago, her mother passed away. Sharon knew she should have called the wedding off then, but she had promised her mother to continue with their plans to marry.
“Sharon, did you hear me? Kenny is not here,” Chantel said, and Sharon felt Chantel move closer.
Kenneth hated when Chantel called him Kenny. Each time she said his name, his lip would curl up in a tight grin. Sharon told Chantel numerous times to stop calling him that, but Chantel just rolled her eyes and said, “what is the big deal? Everyone knows Kenny is short for Kenneth.” Sharon thought to herself: “the big deal is that each time you call him Kenny I have to deal with his anger.”
Chantel went on to explain that Kenneth had chosen to drive himself to the hotel, saying that he had a last minute surprise for his bride. Chantel’s voice quivered, and Sharon realized that Chantel was actually worried more than she could ever be. “Sharon, please turn around and look at me.” Chantel put her hand on Sharon’s shoulder, urging her to turn around.
Sharon remembered watching the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Man Who Knew Too Much with her mother. Her mother hummed along with Doris Day the song “Que Sera Sera” and Shannon asked her mother what it meant. Her mother’s reply was “whatever will be, will be.”
Chantel was still talking. When Sharon finally turned, she could see the worry etched on Chantel’s face. As Sharon glanced around the room, she no longer saw the beautiful flowers. She saw the faces of her bridesmaids with wide open mouths and bulging eyes. The photographers huddled in a corner. A collective gasp could be heard. Sharon felt like the right thing to do would be to say something, but when she opened her mouth nothing came out. Sharon silently wished she could make herself cry, because this would have been the perfect moment to have a single tear run down her cheek. She should be worried that something may have happened to Kenneth. He could have had an accident and been hurt. Slowly Sharon exhaled; she had not realized she was holding her breath. Sharon closed her eyes and said a prayer. She did not wish anything bad on Kenneth but she believed — just maybe God — was answering her prayers.
Sharon grabbed up the corner of her dress, struggling with the twelve foot train that Kenneth had insisted on. Once Sharon was able to manage walking without tripping over the monstrous train, she walked slowly to the door, turned around with a sparkle in her eyes, face glowing and said, “Que Sera Sera.”
Sharon took her left hand and in one smooth motion tossed her bouquet, and with it the past. She swung open the door and danced out of the room singing, “Whatever will be, will be.”
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Alicia Evans is a student at LaGuardia Community College CUNY. She lives in Saint Albans, New York.
Image credit: “Gardenia,” Paul VanDerWerf. Flickr CC BY 2.0.
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