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Miss Wrong and Mr Right

By´╝ÜRobert Bryndza

The players

My wedding dress burned easily.

I stood in the field behind the farmhouse on that summer afternoon, the afternoon of my wedding day, with my Mum, my Gran, and my best friend Sharon. It was almost two o’clock.

My wedding invitations stated that at two the reception would begin. I should have been sitting at the top table with my gorgeous new husband Jamie, listening to my Dad make the speech he’d stressed over for the past few weeks. Instead, I was peering into an old oil drum, and watching with morbid curiosity as the satin and lace of my dress puckered and curled, appearing for a moment like caramel, before crinkling, singeing, and then igniting with a whoomph.

The flames shot up high, and our view of the hills beyond rippled and distorted in the heat.

‘Natalie…What are you doing? This is madness!’ cried my Mum.

‘I didn’t even get a photo of you in it,’ said Sharon sadly, her camera hanging off her wrist. She was still wearing her peach-coloured bridesmaid dress.

‘It vas just a dress Natalie, and it made you look like a cream cake,’ said Gran lighting a cigarette. She snapped her gold lighter shut and stuffed it back in her fur coat. My Gran, Anouska, is Hungarian. She came to England as a young girl but has stubbornly held on to her accent.

‘I don’t know how you can say that. She looked beautiful!’ said Mum.

‘She did look beautiful, like a beautiful cream cake, offered up to be gobbled down,’ said Gran. ‘Is that how she vanted to begin her life as a married vooman, as a sugary insignificant object?’

‘Do you know how long it took old Mrs Garret to sew all that lace?’ asked Mum. ‘It cost a fortune! If I’d got here five minutes earlier, I’d never have let you do this.’

The breeze changed direction, blowing a toxic plume of smoke at us. We coughed and flapped for a moment.

‘Natalie didn’t vant to get married!’ snapped Gran. ‘And I paid for the dress…’

‘It doesn’t mean you can burn it. I would have liked to have kept it,’ said Mum.

‘Yes, only to remind the poor girl you think she should hev gone through vith it,’ said Gran. There was a fizzing popping noise as the flames worked their way down to the fake pearls on the bodice. I didn’t say anything; I was still numb with shock. Mum went on.

‘What were you thinking, Natalie? You walked down the aisle on your father’s arm, in front of half the village, and two minutes later you run back up it and out of the church.’

‘I thought you had a tummy upset, Nat,’ said Sharon.

‘How will I show my face in the village? And poor Jamie! That handsome lovely boy,’ cried Mum.

‘Annie, put things in perspective,’ said Gran, flicking the butt of her cigarette into the oil drum. ‘Didn’t I say Natalie vas too young to get married? She’s nineteen. She needs to get out into the vorld…’ She squinted at me against the sun. ‘You’ve got your whole life ahead of you my darlink. You need to try out some different men for size.’

‘She’s not trying any men out for size,’ hissed Mum. ‘She needs to…’

‘What about what I want to do?’ I shouted suddenly. ‘You’re all talking about me as if I’m not here! Can’t you ever be a normal family, and try to understand how I feel? All you’ve done is shout and persuade me to set fire to my dress!’

‘If you didn’t vant me to burn the dress, you should hev opened your mouth, Natalie,’ said Gran.

‘Like the poor girl had a choice. Once you’ve got a bee in your bonnet there’s no stopping you!’ countered Mum. There was an awkward silence. Sharon leant over and grabbed my hand.

My Dad approached us, picking his way across the muddy field. He still had on his morning suit and smart shoes. When he reached us, he peered into the oil drum in disbelief. My dress was now a blackened lump.

‘Bloody hell, is that…?’ he began, but Mum cut him off.

‘Martin, I thought you were going to get changed?’ She slapped at his lapels, brushing imaginary dirt off his suit.

‘I’ve been trying to sort out what to do with my parents,’ he said, fending her off. ‘I dropped them at the Travelodge, they want to know if we’re still having the sit down meal at the pub?’

‘Of course we’re not still having the sit down meal at the pub!’

‘I’m trying to get my head around this, Natalie, did Jamie do something?’ asked Dad. They all turned to look at me. I opened my mouth. Nothing came out for a few seconds.

‘I just, don’t feel ready…’

It sounded whiny and pathetic.