Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ready! Set! Go!

          "Oh wow! What am I doing?"
I stood in front of the full-length mirror in the church's dressing room, staring at my own reflection. I saw a pale woman with chestnut-brown hair—her eyes too big, too wide, too fearful.
"You look elegant in mom's wedding dress," my older sister Rita said.
"I wish I'd have been slender enough to wear it, too."
I spun around to face her. "I don't think this is going to work."
"Nonsense! The dress fits you perfectly."
I pressed a hand to my queasy stomach. "It's not the dress I'm talking about—it's the wedding."
"Don't get yourself worked up, Kristy." My sister wrapped me in a soft, hug, then stepped back.
"I'm about to marry a man I've known since fourth grade. We dated in high school, broke up, lost track of each other in college, came back home, became best friends—and now we're getting married!'
"A love story for the ages."
"But I can't believe it."
"You love him, don't you?"
"What's love got to do with it? I'm scared." I swallowed. "I should make a run for it out the back—"
"Shhh! You'll give me a heart attack. Besides, if you run, I'll tell, and Jake will catch you."
"Not if I have a head start—"
A sharp knock at the door nearly stopped my heart. I thought the intruder might be Jake—my wonderful, kind, patient, loving husband-to-be. Had he finally lost his patience? I couldn't let him see me like this, near a meltdown with last-second jitters. No way!
Rita opened the door; my heart stopped, but Rita's husband and her ten-year-old daughter, Ellen, entered. "We've got restless people in church," Andy said. "Not to mention an anxious groom and a frowning minister."
"Jake's anxious?" I said, wringing my hands. "He should see me—I'm falling apart."
"You're beautiful, Aunt Kristy," Ellen said, offering a big smile.
"Thank you, sweetheart." I suddenly felt my eyes turn misty.
"We're nearly ready," Rita said.
"According to who?" I said.
"Go calm the groom down," Rita told Andy. She waved the two of them away and closed the door. Then my sister turned on me and said softly, "Coward."
"That's not fair."
"You're afraid to walk through that door, into the church, down the aisle, and say I do to the man you love. I'd say that's cowardly."
I heaved a big sigh. I crossed my arms.
Rita said, "He's giving up his former life, too, but he's ready to join you in making a new one."
"I know."
"He's making the same promise you are—until death do us part."
"I know."
Rita sliced a hand through the air. "Right now he's standing on the altar facing a church full of people, and he's wondering why your commitment isn't as strong as his."
"I need just another second..."
Rita stomped her foot. "Look at you! Ready to cry. Ready to change your mind."
"I'm not changing my mind."
"I'll bet by this time Jake is changing his mind, too—ready to run. Just like you wanted to."
I blinked. "He wouldn't."
"A fine pair you two are. You deserve each other—both quitters. How did you ever expect to stay married?"
"We are a good pair!"
"I don't believe it. Neither one of you has an ounce of backbone!"
I started to bristle. How dare my sister say something like that, especially on my wedding day. I fired back: "Jake's the most loyal, dependable, honest, considerate, loving man I know."
"Do you really believe that?
"Do you think you'd ever find a better man?"
"Absolutely not."
"Then what are you waiting for?"
"Ready! Set! Go! Walk though that door!"
I grabbed a deep breath. I pictured my dad in his tux, waiting to walk me up the aisle. And my mom standing in the front pew of the church in her beautiful dress, gazing back at me. And the church full of well-wishers, their shiny, smiling faces turned toward me. The minister. My bridesmaids. Jake's groomsmen. And Jake himself, tall and handsome, his blue eyes shimmering with love.
My chin jutted out. Rita opened the door, and I marched toward my dad, standing just inside the church entrance.
"Are you all right?" Dad asked.
 I looped my arm through his, ready to marry the man who loved me—whom I loved—ready to begin a new life with him, ready to kiss him and hold him in my arms forever.  "Ready," I said.
Dad patted my hand. "I was worried about you."
I glanced at my sister. The smile on my face felt huge. "Nothing to it," I said. "I'm fearless. Piece of cake. Right, Rita?"
She rolled her eyes and smiled back. "Right."

The End
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