The Wedding: A Short Story by Felisa Daskeo
It took her some time to realize that today was her wedding day, or was it? It wasn’t a well-planned wedding and as she looked around, the faces she saw were frowning at her instead of smiling. The man walking near her was a picture of doom and she was swimming in melancholy. She wanted to place herself in heaven, happily intermingling with the angels there but she couldn’t force herself.
This is only a dream, she reassured herself as she turned her attention to a group of people who were laughing. There she is again, always following her shadow. The girl who almost killed her and she’s there again. And it’s not a dream. Helena was there and her laughter was real. She heard her laughter taunting her, teasing her.
“Hey, Helena. You’re looking great. Aren’t you supposed to be the blushing bride today?” Cecille heard a man say. And the conversation went on.
“Helena. Look at her. She isn’t fitted to him. It’s you who matches Patrick.”
“Boy, oh, boy, wake up, Helena. Don’t pretend to be happy when inside you’re crying.”
The night was a shield of protection for Cecille. For a moment the darkness was something of a blanket that kept her wrapped and protected from the piercing eyes around her.
“Cecille!” Patrick was at her side. He took her hand and squeezed it. “Don’t mind those people. Come, I’ll introduce you to my friends. Don’t listen to them.” He pulled her away from Helena’s group.
Cecille leaned on him. “Patrick, can we shorten this night? I don’t feel like talking to anybody. I want to be left alone.”
He held her close. “No, sweetheart. This is the most important night of our lives and we can’t miss it. I want us to enjoy ourselves tonight, to feel happy. Let’s not think of those people. Let’s just think of us, that this is our night and we’re the happiest people here tonight.”
Could she pretend just like that? All these years she had been suffering and the emotions have been sealed in her, confined there like boiling water in a kettle. Four years ago, Cecille and Patrick were two young lovers very much in love. Patrick loved her so much but his parents and friends disapproved their relationship. Cecille comes from a middle-class family. Patrick is rich and everyone thought Cecille doesn’t fit in their social circle.
And one day, Helena popped into the scene. A budding, sophisticated. A beautiful lady who just arrived from the US. Her family is a friend of Patrick’s and they set them up. But Patrick loved Cecille so much and decided to elope with her. They weren’t able to escape because a truck was waiting for them on their way. It smashed the back of the car Patrick was driving but they weren’t badly hurt. The last thing Cecille saw before she passed out was Helena splashing hot liquid on her face and saying, “Patrick is mine.”
Both were saved but Cecilles’s face suffered severe damage and had to undergo plastic surgery. The report said Cecille’s face smashed into the car’s glass window. Cecille never told the truth to anyone. Patrick was sent to the US and Cecille was left nursing a badly shattered heart. Patrick sent her a series of letters and called her as often as he could.
Until Cecille decided to end everything. She was tired of facing the trials. Besides, Helena had been sending her threats and haunting her. Patrick almost died in pain when he received Cecille’s letter ending the affair. He didn’t believe her. He knew that there was something behind it. He flew home and threatened his parents that he will commit suicide if they try to stop him from marrying Cecille. So the wedding was set but Cecille wasn’t so happy about it. Helena just shrugged off the news and promised to behave on the wedding day. True to what she said, Helena just sat down with her friends.
Patrick pulled Cecille to where his friends were seated. “Hello, friends. This is Cecille, my wife.”
The group said hello in a chorus and congratulated them both. Cecille smiled awkwardly, blushing and wanting to hide and refusing to talk to anyone. She wanted to escape – escape from that place of doom. Patrick pressed her to his side and kissed her forehead. He can understand how Cecille was feeling that night. They sat together. The group’s attention was diverted to their earlier topic. And Cecille found it boring listening to the men and women talking about their business; a hotel and restaurant business, real estate, modeling agency, a shopping mall, a fashion boutique. And when she couldn’t take it any longer, excused herself and went to the ladies room. Helena had been watching them from the start. She saw Cecille move out of the group and she followed her. She made a sound with her shoes that alerted Cecille to look back.
“Oh, my, oh, my, I think I know why you’re here. Trying to escape your guests, aren’t you? Of course. How could a naïve girl from nowhere entertain guests? I guess you weren’t able to carry a conversation with your guests, huh!” she laughed.
Helena was right but Cecille can’t just ignore Helena’s meanness. She stood and faced her. “Damn you, Helena. You’re a bitch,” she slapped Helena’s face twice. Then walked out and went back to her seat beside Patrick.
“Are you okay, sweetheart?” Patrick peered into her face.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? If you wish to, I could take you home now.”
She shook her head. “No, Patrick, don’t. I’m fine, really.”
They sat there. Fingers entwined. Patrick was whispering in her ears from time to time and it made Cecille more at ease. And finally the reception reached its end and everyone said goodbye and good night. Cecille walked towards her in-laws to say good night and found Helena with them. Helena stood up and was about to raise her hand when Patrick ran to her and caught her hand.
“Don’t you try hitting Cecille. You have no right to hurt her.” Patrick hissed at her.
Cecille just stood there not knowing what to do.
“Next time, teach your damned wife to respect her guests.” Helena said to Patrick. She clenched her fists and walked away without a glance.
“What happened?” Patrick’s mom said.
Patrick answered before Cecille could say a word. “You know Helena, mommy and I guess you aren’t surprised why she behaved that way. If you would excuse us, Cecille and I just want a peaceful night. So, let’s call it a night and say our goodbye.”
He reached for Cecille and wrapped her arms around her shoulders then they walked to the car waiting.
Cecille’s role as a wife was fulfilling but the days were boring. Patrick was away most of the time and at daytime, she was alone at home with only the maids as her companion. The days pulled slowly for Cecille, worsened by the non-acceptance of her in-laws and Helena who was always in the picture. She would have given up a long time ago but Patrick was very important to her.
Cecille dismissed the maids early that night. She wanted to be alone. Patrick had been away for two days and she wanted to lock herself in her room and just read. How she wished they had a baby so that she wouldn’t be bored waiting every day for Patrick to come home. Her doctor happily informed her that she was in the family way. Patrick wasn’t informed yet because he was away when she visited the doctor for a check-up.
On this night, the ringing doorbell startled her senses. She took her wrap and tiptoed downstairs. The maids would be asleep by now and she didn’t want to disturb them. She opened the door and found Helena smiling at her. She was like a ghost and Cecille felt a chill wrapping her and she shivered.
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh, come on, Cecille. I know you are alone. Patrick was with me in Hong Kong for two days. I just left him there today. Want to prove it? You can call him now.” She said laughing.
Cecille was shocked but she wouldn’t let Helena laugh in her face. “If there’s nothing you want to tell me, Helena. You can go away now. Leave or I’ll call the guard.”
“Guard? Some people aren’t as loyal as you are, Cecille.” She went close to her. “Your guard needed the money. So, he’s there in his post counting the thick wads I gave him.”
“You’re evil, Helena. Get out or I’ll shout and call for help.”
“Oh, come on, Cecille. You want to talk, don’t you? You want to know if your Patrick is really sincere with you. You want to know the truth, don’t you? Cecille, you lose. I won Patrick. You may be the one he marched to the altar but I still won. Patrick loves me and I am the one he wants to show off the world. Now, tell me, Cecille. Do you still want to drive me away or do you want to talk?”
Cecille could have strangled Helena to death, but what if she was telling the truth? What if Patrick only used her? What if….? Then they needed to talk. She wanted to know the truth. She can’t stay in Patrick’s house if he didn’t love her. Cecille found herself allowing a space for Helena to come in the house.
Helena looked around the spacious living room then looked up the wide stairs. “Cecille, can we talk upstairs? You don’t want your maids eavesdropping, right?”
Cecille slowly stepped toward the stairs letting Helena lead the way. She felt drained and tired. She just wanted all of this mess to end and she can move on with her life.
“Helena, what’s so important that you chose this late night to talk about it?”
“It’s about you and Patrick and of course me. Patrick told me to come and open it to you. He preferred the truth to come from me.”
“The truth? What is it?” Cecile stepped on the last stair and looked at Helena’s face. But it wasn’t Helena’s face that she saw. Instead, Helena seemed to have grown horns on her head. She winced and at that moment Helena saw the perfect time to push Cecille down the stairs. Cecille would never know the truth.
The sudden death of Cecille devastated Patrick. It was declared an accident and the case was closed. Patrick didn’t understand why Cecille had to go so early, just as they were already planning to build a family. Patrick couldn’t accept what happened. But his parents and friends were always there. Plus of course, the special services of Helena being a good friend. Patrick thought Helena was everything a friend should be, caring, loving, and most of all very understanding and was always there when he needed someone’s shoulder to cry on.
It was because of Patrick’s parents and friends that he agreed to marry Helena. Helena, on the other hand, pretended not to be happy about the arrangement and even suggested to Patrick that he shouldn’t hurry because he was still mourning over Cecille. But everybody thought it was the best thing to do in order to save Patrick from any more pains and hurt.
The wedding was set. And it seemed a perfect day was awaiting the couple. Everything was wrapped in white and all the flowers were white. It was what Helena wanted. As Helena was walking with her father, she stepped on something. She stopped and looked down. There, lying on the ground was a black handkerchief. At first, she thought it was only her imagination but when she looked again, the handkerchief was still there and it was embroidered with a name in white. The name on it was very clear and she read it aloud, “Cecille!” Her father jerked her hand. “Helena, what are you saying?”
Helena turned pale, almost collapsing. “Dad, look, I’m stepping on Cecille’s handkerchief.
“Helena, you’re imagining things. There’s nothing on your foot.”
When she looked down, the black handkerchief was gone. Her father pressed her hand on his. “Come on, Helena. Patrick is waiting for you.”
Just as he said those words, a very strong wind whooshed, blowing Helena’s veil.
“Oh, my God, Cecille?” Patrick murmured as he watched Helena’s face. It wasn’t her but Cecille who was walking towards him.
For a minute, everyone stood there awed, shocked and stunned. Then it was calm again and one of the guests was fixing Helena’s veil in place. Helena regained her composure and reassured herself that it was impossible because Cecille is dead and cannot do such a thing. Then as she was about to hold Patrick’s hand, a slap met her face. It was so strong that it sent her flying two meters away. Then the strong wind came again and everything was in turmoil. They watched as Helena was slapped several times and was lifted by an invisible force. Helena was shouting and trying to escape the blow. Her last words shocked everybody especially Patrick.
“Cecille, please stop it now.” Helena was begging. “Stop it, please. I thought if I was going to kill you, I can have Patrick all by myself but I was wrong. Patrick loves you very much. I give up now, Cecille, I can never win Patrick’s heart. Please take me with you. I won’t hurt you anymore.”
Helena, lay motionless on the ground. Nobody could move. Patrick ran to her and felt for her pulse. He looked around and shook his head. “She’s gone,” he said and stood leaving her there.
The strong wind suddenly stopped. Patrick walked to the altar and knelt down. The church fell silent then Patrick’s sobs drowned the silence.
© 2018 Felisa Daskeo