A single rose petal floated down through the air. Sarah watched its tumbling fall, bright shining white against the burgundy and brown of the ancient chapel’s altar, and tried desperately not to scream. Would nothing go perfectly? She sighed mentally and began counting, and old calming technique she had picked up from her mother. It was bad enough that the priest had been stumbling all over words as though he had been gulping the blood of Christ, and that Rich’s best man had an unexplained bandage on his hand. Did no one understand the gravity of this event?
Sarah sighed internally again and redoubled her counting efforts. Somewhere around three hundred she was finally had enough peace of mind to focus on the ceremony itself. They were halfway through the second reading, and her darling niece Anna was pushing through something from the Letters. She had fought long and hard to keep any of that ‘obedient wife’ crap out of the question, and she smiled as Anna came to the end with a flourish - Anna’s theatrical tendencies finally overcoming her abject horror at public speaking.
The ceremony resumed, and Sarah turned her eyes - and her thoughts - to the man opposite her. He stood awkwardly, a good ol’ boy wrapped in foreign finery for one of the major events of his life. Their life, now. Sarah was still adjusting to that thought. She’d been independent for so long that she’d forgotten how to share her life with others. Indeed just the other night she had been fighting with Rich over finances. To think, he thought she should take on his debts...
No. Sarah shook herself internally. This was the happiest day of her life, and she was not going to ruin it by dwelling on inconsequentials. She looked at his eyes, those piercing green irises consuming her in an emerald pool of light, and felt that part of her deep inside melt once again. Damn his eyes were beautiful. She could still remember her first sight of them, glistening across the fire pit at Aunt Joanie’s Memorial day barbecue. How could she ever grow angry at eyes like those?
The priest was winding up to the big event, the vows. Rich had wanted to write his own, but Sarah wanted to stick with the traditional. She wouldn’t have her day in the sun ruined by awkward attempts at hillbilly humor. The fact that this also got her out of writing her own vows, putting into words that which had indescribably dominated her consciousness, was simply an added bonus.
“Do you, Richard Young, take Sarah to be your lawfully-wedded wife?”
Sarah had expected chills, but she was so caught up in the moment. Hardly any of it seemed real, as though they were simply running lines at a rehearsal for the actual event some interminable distance in the future. The priest was running through the list: sickness, health, richness, poorness, death, life, and so on. Wasn’t there supposed to be more of a sense of gravity?
“And do you, Sarah May, take Richard...”
Sarah was in a daze, simply inserting the appropriate responses at the appropriate times. Was this what shock felt like? Hadn’t she just a moment ago thought that it seemed all unreal? How could she have been so wrong? This was the most real thing in her entire life, and she was on autopilot!
“I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Sarah looked into Rich’s eyes, those jewels on a field of white, and all of a sudden she trembled as though it was her first time all over again. She stepped forward and raised her chin, and felt all of her energy dissipate the moment his lips met hers. They kissed for a second that seemed an eternity, and it was a long minute before the roaring in Sarah’s ears gave way to the roaring of the family and friends in attendance.The two moved down the aisle, hand in hand, leaving the solitary petal on the altar. Whether it was an omen of good or ill only time would tell, but Sarah didn’t care. This was the best day of her life.