The Bride by Karina
Rose petals littered the aisle like discarded trash in a New York subway station. She was dressed in a long dress that started off white but blended into a deep scarlet in the train, as if she had been walking through the scene of some bloody massacre. Her name was Emerald, Emmy for short, and she hated the man she was marrying. He stood at the end of the aisle, framed in an ivory arch decorated with thorny roses that were slowly dying, just as slowly as Emmy walked. Silently, hundreds of people Emmy didn’t know watched her from either side. They sat in plastic chairs that were spray painted with some glossy silver coat to make them look expensive, and in their hands were cameras that flashed and pained Emmy’s eyes, so she closed them. Her eyelashes, heavy with thick mascara, rested on her cheeks with an unbearable weight that made Emmy want to scream.
“You look beautiful, dear,” her mother whispered as Emmy passed by. She smiled weakly in response, and readjusted the bouquet in her hand; the ribboned handle had become slimy with sweat, and Emmy’s palms were itchy. As Emmy walked nearer to the groom, who waited patiently with a small, loving smile, a tear slipped out of her left eye and began its slow course down her cheek. Thankfully, no one noticed.
The priest waited behind an enormous Bible, his robed arms crossed behind his back. Unlike her groom, the priest did not smile; he kept his eyes closed, his chin tilted slightly upwards; as if, in his mind, he was having a conversation with God in that very moment. Emmy’s heart seized with a sudden conviction, an urge to drop the bouquet and cry out to God; to ask Him why he had ever placed Ronald Campbell in her path.
That was her groom’s name: Ronald Campbell, Ron to his friends (whom Emmy had yet to meet). He was an accountant and thirteen years older than Emmy, a friend of her father’s who’d admired her developing form as a teenager and now had the chance to physically act out his fantasies, at long last. Ronald’s sizable bank accountant had no doubt played a part in their engagement; more so the business merger her father was pursuing with one of Ronald’s especially lucrative franchises. Emmy was an asset that her father had groomed over the years; she was nothing but a pretty toy, kept healthy and fit like a prize-winning horse. The languages she had learned, the ballet classes she’d excelled in; they amounted to nothing more but further decorative finishes to her attractiveness, simple bonuses for Ronald Campbell, the lucky guy.
The orchestra’s music swelled to a volume that dug its way into Emmy’s ears and tunneled into her brain like a bullet. She winced and almost slipped on a mound of rose petals she’d overlooked, and Ronald chuckled softly. Look at the little girl, his smirk seemed to imply. Playing dress up.
Emmy froze. The music faded, became a thrumming beat; the screeching violins and piercing harp slid their way out of Emmy’s brain, and slowly her heart rate decreased. It felt like she’d just fallen into a well, and the water was closing its way over her like a calming blanket. She smiled softly without realizing it, and the wedding photographer snapped a photo, believing the look on her face to be one of true love and contentment.
Silently, Emmy slipped off her shoes. The wedding guests watched her in puzzled bemusement, and her mother stood, craning her wrinkled neck to better see her daughter’s actions. Emmy kept her gaze trained on the wilted roses intertwined throughout the ivory arch, like red meat stuck in a dog’s teeth, as she pulled the veil free from her hair and tossed it to the ground.
“Hey,” Ronald said, his eyes widening, his mouth open like a fish. “What’s going on?”
Emmy didn’t answer. She began to loosen the corset of her dress with quick, nimble fingers, and several of the guests gasped. Emmy’s mother scrambled to make her way out of her seat; as she did so, the elastic string of her pearl necklace snapped, and the pearls scattered everywhere, loose teeth littering the ground. At the sound of the necklace snapping, Emmy turned on her heel and ran like the wind. She never stopped, even when her mother screeched and the sound was like a bird getting hit by a car; even when Ronald cursed and kicked over the ivory arch, and it was like a building collapsing; even when the priest finally looked down and smiled, said “Amen”, closed the Bible and laughed.
Emmy didn’t know where she was going, but that was all right; that was just fine. She didn’t need a destination. She only wanted to know what it felt like to go somewhere.