She stood, staring blankly as the world began to close in on her. The bright colors chosen began to blend, and then all she could see was grey. A shadow of gloom overtook the moment. Varying scents of perfume wafting through the room became unbearable, tears welling and threatening to spill from the ducts of her eyes. It was assumed she was overcome with emotion, with joy. She would not be a spinster like other young women she knew. She’s so stunning. That dress is amazing. She’s going to have such a wonderful life. Everything’s perfect.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.
The room grew hot, beads of sweat formed at the nape of her neck, her breathing hitched. Hundreds of pairs of eyes rested upon the twenty-year-old as a man professed his love before God, her family, and guests.
She could only blink, her nerves seizing and overruling her calm nature as her chest began to rise and fall with each confident word he spoke. The smile on his face should have been a reassuring one, it should have brought a bit of ease to her mind. He had their life mapped out, he had plans, and plans for when those plans might fail. He’d found their first home, he wanted to start immediately on a family, and she would never have to lift a finger. It was the life most women dreamed of.
Butterflies seemed to flutter about her belly, but they weren’t the same butterflies she’d felt when she first met him. Nor were they the same as the butterflies that swarmed when he proposed with the Eiffel Tower and Parisian lights as their backdrop. They made her feel ill.
A mistake. It will be a mistake. Slowly looking over her shoulder, she could see as her parents teemed with excitement, her mother’s ivory toned cheeks full of natural blush as she dabbed away the tears that fell. Her father, a pillar of pride as he watched his handy work come to full fruition.
This was his idea, his hope that he’d move his only child from one wealthy family and into another. The plans had all been rushed, without a thought or opinion asked of the girl. It seemed she went to bed one night newly engaged and woke up the very next morning at the altar.
She shook in her heels, feeling as if she were going to fall on her face at any second. She wanted to disappear. “And do you, Margot Elizabeth Blake take Chet O’Hara to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold from this day forward; in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, ’til death do you part?”
She said nothing, frozen in time as an elderly woman played a humdrum tune on the piano just inches behind her. Whispers began, her eyes darting from left to right as the weight of a lifelong decision dropped itself on her thin shoulders. “Margot, dear…”
A lump formed in her throat, her breathing began to grow a bit erratic as her mother urged her to reply in a timelier manner. “Do you?”
Looking around once more, taking full view and note of the concerned glares that fell on her; tears spilled immediately from Margot’s eyes as she released the man’s hands. She grabbed the bottom of her dress, speaking softly with regret as she turned away and broke into a frantic sprint. “I can’t, I’m sorry.”
She caused an uproar, gossip and shouting springing forward as she ran down the aisle and out the door of her family’s church. Behind her, she could hear her father’s voice booming, calling her by her middle name. A sure sign that he was upset, and his words would not be kind ones if he ever caught up with her.
Margot rushed down the street, disregarding the wild stares and eyes that followed as she searched for refuge on a scorching summer day. She couldn’t do it. She could not marry, not when she hadn’t lived life. When she came to a stop, she took a deep breath and hopped on to the bus that pulled in front of her. More stares gave notice to the fact that her hair had fallen; wild, red strands strewn about beneath the veil she wore. The train of her extravagant gown was now dirty, marred by the streets she’d spent her whole life strolling along with caution.
“I can’t believe I did that.” And against her initial thoughts as she took off, she now felt no ounce of regret. Marrying him would have been a mistake.