Lachlan didn’t want a big wedding with the formality and the massive expense of it all. Mainly because he didn’t see the point, but also because word got back to the Watermans somehow. I guess he’d told some of his high school or college friends and the news just travelled. He knew they’d muscle in and turn it into something ridiculous, expensive and impersonal that we wouldn’t even want. Having met them one Thanksgiving, I was inclined to agree.
I was never that little girl who dreamed of her wedding day. In fact, I didn’t even think about weddings until that day I saw those rings on the computer screen. I didn’t mind at all, and given my busy schedule, decided that a small wedding would be best.
Besides, I couldn’t imagine saying everything I wanted to say in front of so many people. The very thought made me anxious.
It was decided that we were going to hold a tiny ceremony, practically an elopement, at Myshuno Meadows, under the same beautiful dusk that he’d proposed under. It’s been only two months since then, and the wedding’s Friday. The guest list was limited to Dianne and Kaylyn on my side, and Dax and his husband Jaron for Lachlan. Our honeymoon would take place in September – we’d planned to head to Sulani. The weather would be as good, but the prices cheaper.
With encouragement from Lachlan and Dianne, I told Uncle Miles, Aunt Adela, and Michael of our plans.
“I can accept that.” Miles said. “It would have been nice to see you get married, Sarai, but it’s your choice.” For a second, my stomach lurched with that familiar guilt; my brain screaming that I was making a terrible, selfish choice. It’s also for you and Lachlan, your future husband and the man you love, we kind of have to be the most important thing here.
“But,” Adela added. “Perhaps we could host a meal or something – a barbecue! Just something small, to celebrate you two getting hitched!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands together and beaming.
“Thank you,” Lachlan said, gratefully lowering his head. “That’s very kind of you two.”
“What can we bring?” I asked.
“Nothing!” Adela exclaimed. “If you think that you two are bringing anything, think again!” And we all laughed.
“Sarai, my amazing, beautiful sunshine, you have brought so much light into my life, by being kind, warm and caring. You’re one of the strongest people I know. I love you, and I can’t wait to start our lives as husband and wife.”
“Lachlan, angel…I don’t know what to say, apart from…from the day I met you, you have been caring, understanding and loving. You have been my rock. You’re resilient and intelligent and I couldn’t be a luckier woman. I love you so much.”
Tears pricked the back of my eyes. Why am I crying?
It’s because I’m absolutely on cloud nine right now, isn’t it?
When Lachlan and I walked into the garden, we were greeted by a smattering of applause. They all looked so happy for us.
“Hope it all went well…no objections, I hope!” Miles joked.
“I was actually completely against my best friend marrying the man she loves.” Dianne deadpanned. “Ow, Colt, hold still! Mike, could you – I need to give Sarai a hug!” She shoved Colton into her brother’s arms and dashed over to wrap me in a bone-crushing embrace.
Everyone else offered me their congratulations. Miles fired up the barbecue and everyone started chatting and eating and just generally having a good time. They’d picked excellent food and the weather was gorgeous.
I was halfway through a burger when the doorbell rang. Adela immediately ran to get it, quickly returning with whoever it was. I could hear their footsteps in the hallway. Something about the clack-clack-clack of what sounded like high heels was ominously familiar…
“It’s your sister, Miles.” Adela informed us all. A hush fell over the party.
There she was. It’s been..five years. Five years since I saw this woman in person. The woman who raised me. She never even met Lachlan, and I’d liked it that way.
“Did you not expect me?” she asked.
“Well…I didn’t think…” Miles began awkwardly.
She sat down. “It’s a family celebration, isn’t it? Hello, Dianne – what a sweet little boy, he’s growing up really well.”
Dianne nodded and gave a wavering smile. I noticed her worriedly eye Colton and scoop him up into her arms. Good call. “Yeah, Aunt Clarissa. He’s wonderful.” Despite her complaints about his behaviour, her face lit up when she said it.
“Look, we didn’t think you’d want to come.” Adela finally said. “Sorry, Clarissa. We were surprised is all, feel free to grab something to eat.”
“I’ve eaten,” she said. “I wasn’t planning to stay long, I’ve got lots of work to do, and then a conference call.” On a Sunday? “Sarai? Can I speak to you?”
I froze. Clarissa – the one person who has consistently been better at making me feel shit about myself than well, me. What was she going to say? My leg shook, my toes tapping against the ground.
“You don’t have to.” Lachlan whispered, squeezing my hand under the table.
I took several deep breaths, willing myself to hold it together. After all, I spent years unlearning every idea of myself that Clarissa helped me instil within myself. One conversation cannot undo all of that. It can’t. Otherwise what are you worth?
“Fine.” I said with a biting tone. “Let’s talk. The living room should be free.”
Lachlan and Dianne gave me incredulous, frightened looks. I nodded at them, showing that ‘I got this’ – even though I really wasn’t sure if I did or not.
Clarissa huffed and led me out of the room. When we got to the couches, she directed me to sit across from her. Like an interview – fuck that. We’re both adults talking about our lives. I sat next to her instead.
“Why did you get married so suddenly?” she asked. “I hear nothing and out of the blue – Miles tells me that he can’t come to help me with my furnace this week because he’s hosting a celebration for your…marriage.” She screwed up her face like it was an ugly word. Maybe it was to her, because she’d never come close to that her entire life.
“It wasn’t sudden. We’ve known each other for years. We became friends after he showed me around a property and-”
“A property? Did you finally buy a place to live?”
“Might buy it. I’m still renting with Lachlan but we’ll find somewhere. No, that property was for my business, which I own and run myself.” I couldn’t help adding a little boastful edge onto that. Fuck you for saying that I’d never amount to anything, that I was stupid and threw away all my opportunities and chances. I did NOT.
…I think you almost did, Clarissa. Who’s left in your life?
“-Well.” She looked slightly stunned. “Congratulations, I suppose. Rather volatile to put all of your eggs in that basket, but if you’re happy…”
“I guess Kendra would have been happy with you too.”
It was funny. All my life she told me I never would have been enough for my mother. And I always wanted it to not be true, and I wanted to hear it from Clarissa. Now that I finally had…it didn’t matter.
My thoughts were interrupted by a tapping on my shoulder. “I don’t think I’m wanted.” Clarissa. actually sounded rather crestfallen, and uncharacteristically soft. “I’ll leave you with this. I suppose you and your husband’ll want children someday, and they should know their family history.” It was a picture of her, my mother, and Uncle Miles, when they were young.
“Thanks.” This might be the last time I’ll ever see her. There had been no apology, no acknowledgement of the way she treated me. She still hadn’t given me the chance to confront her – she steamrolled the conversation as always. Never change, Clarissa, I sarcastically thought.
Why would I fucking bother with her anyway?
“What are you doing?”
“Emailing my parents. The rest of them can find out through them, they’ll be complaining for a while.”
“But I thought-”
“I know what I said. But I changed my mind. What can they do anyway?” he said with a crooked grin.