Surrey, England, November 2017
Sophia hastened along the narrow pathway leading to the church. Once again, she was late and the ceremony probably halfway. A sombre sky, more fit for mourning than rejoicing, disguised the day as the night, accentuating the ghostly shadows of the slant graves as she went past. It had been raining all morning, a fine, imperceptible mist that enveloped the countryside in a chill dampness. She tried to run but her heels sank in the slippery gravel, making her lose her balance and slowing her down. Idly, she stared at the unwelcoming wooden door and its menacing iron bolts, like those of a fortress, and smiled at the irony of the holy sacrament. An adventure for some, a prison for others, she thought.
Regaining her composure, she took few deep breaths and slid the rusty bolt, causing it to squeak loudly. She hadn’t seen Meghan since her birthday in September, when she came to give her a present and with it, broke the news about the affair. She could not believe she had waited so long to inform her of such a thing, her dearest friend. But she didn’t want to hurt her, no one did, that had been her excuse. Because they all knew, they had known for months, she was the only one that seemed to have been oblivious and kept pretending, living the lie. “We all thought you suspected something,” she had explained, “after all, he was always working.” Out of habit, she run her hand over her damped hair and pushed the door open.
Dozens of curious eyes fell on her. She wondered what they were thinking. Were they feeling pity? Satisfaction, perhaps? He was too good for her, more than one would have said. She shielded herself by focusing her gaze on the ancient stones and slipped in the last bench. The vicar addressed the congregation to ask if they knew of any lawful impediment to their marriage, and she remembered the same part of the service on her wedding day. Nobody had spoken then. Nobody had dared to tell her that her husband-to-be needed variety, that he would become bored of the same face, the same pair of breasts, the same bed. She looked down at her thin hands and noticed her nails. They were unevenly bitten and painfully short. She should have gone for a mani, but they were so many things she should have done. She should have taken the scholarship for Edinburgh and completed her masters. Instead, she had given all up, beguiled by the illusion of marriage life.
“I thought you weren’t coming.” His words startled her and she kept her attention on the couple, too embarrassed to turn around and face him. She had been crying all night and neither the eye-mask or make-up she had applied, were able to conceal the redness in her eyes.
“I got held in traffic. I stayed in London last night, I didn’t finish work until gone eight.”
“I gather Tom is not here.”
“No, he’s not.”
Callum lowered his head down and whispered in her ear, “I’m glad. We have some unfinished business...”
© 2019 Isabel GG