“What are you doing girl?! It is time to go get dressed,” Aunt Frankie said irritably. “You act like I can’t put on a wedding for my son.”
I looked at her and said, “It isn’t you I’m worried about Aunt Frankie. You’ve been perfect. It’s Uncle Roe. He’s been making noise that if this isn’t a ‘real’ wedding then he might just put a halt to it. As fritzy as he has been the last two days I wouldn’t put it past him to …”
Aunt Frankie snorted but nodded at the same time. “He’s like a cat with a stray hair. But stop worrying about it, the girls and I have it under control. One word out of him during the ceremony and …”
Under normal circumstances Aunt Frankie can be formidable; I certainly wouldn’t want to get on her bad side under less than normal circumstances. But as stubborn as she and Uncle Roe could be – and I know stubborn like I know my own face in the mirror – there is no telling what kind of ruckus could occur if one or the other of them got something into their head.
Wendalene came up laughing. “Will you just go? Get dressed already. And make sure you put that lingerie on underneath it. Jude is already chomping at the bit and looking a little gray around the edges like he isn’t breathing right. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he gets a load of …” She stopped and giggled. “Maybe we should throw some pillows down in case he passes out.”
I grumbled. “More like I’m going to be the one to pass out. I can barely breathe in that blasted corset. And I swear it is too cold for the wardrobe malfunction you seem to have set me up for with the rest of that get up. I told you that dress was perfectly acceptable the way I had it. Why you all had to make the alterations without asking me first …”
Faith took that moment to stroll up. “You looked like Old Mother Hubbard, aged sixty, and getting married for the fifth time and not caring too much to take the time to do it. Now the dress is more age appropriate.”
I squawked, “Age appropriate?! I look like I’m gonna pop right out of the thing if I move the wrong way too fast.”
Rochelle had to add her sardonic two cents. “If that happens Jude isn’t the only one that is going to pass out. I brought smelling salts just in case.”
I felt like stamping my foot but refused to give them the satisfaction of knowing just how discombobulated I was. I turned and sailed passed them – all of them laughing again at my expense – and headed to the room that the little church had set aside for brides and their parties to change in. Once in the room I turned and locked the door so I could have some peace and some breathing room. The area was icy cold and I was dreading having to climb out of my coat and into the silky bit underthings and then into the dress that was less than the modest one that I had originally envisioned it to be. If I had wanted to look like I was stepping out in the red light district I would certainly pass muster in the get up Aunt Frankie and the girls had turned my dress into.
I sat on a cold metal chair and for all of two seconds considered walking down the aisle with my winter coat over the dress but Uncle Roe had already nixed that idea. “I want a real wedding and I, by God, mean to have a real wedding.” I nearly told him that then he could walk down the aisle in the dress for me since he was all fired up about what was real and what wasn’t. I didn’t of course ‘cause I had some sense though I wasn’t feeling too smart at that particular moment.
There was a tapping on the window. I went over and cracked it open. “Let me in before Dad catches me,” Jude whispered breathlessly.
I opened the window and Jude was up and through it fast enough that I developed a momentary suspicion but decided that was in the past and to let it go. “I’m glad I caught you before you got into that dress. Look, are you sure you are OK with this? If you aren’t I’ll figure something out. I can probably get Brother Shirley to …”
“Is this your way of trying to get out of marrying me?” I asked hesitantly.
“What?! No!!” He shook his head almost violently. “I just don’t want you waking up tomorrow wondering what kind of nightmare you’d gotten yourself into.”
I relaxed. “My life is a bit of a nightmare here and there … but it’s never been your fault. In fact, there are days on end when you are the only thing that makes sense about what is going on.”
He got a goofy look on his face. “Oh.”
“Yeah. Oh. Just promise one thing.”
“Don’t hold this dress against me for however long we have together. Your mom and sisters kinda got ahold of it. And you gotta promise me not to pass out.”
He got an alarmed look on his face and started to ask me something but there was a knock on the door. “Dovie! Why is this door lock?!”
I rolled my eyes. “Because I don’t want someone just walking in while I’m trying to dress.”
I heard the man snort impatiently. “Have you seen Jude? We can’t find him … and he better not be in there.”
I turned just in time to see the window silently close. I was really going to have to watch the windows back at the house; he was far too talented getting in and out of them so silently. “I don’t see him in here Uncle Roe. You really wanna come in here and look?”
He cleared his throat and said, “No. Just don’t take all day. Folks are starting to arrive.”
“What do you mean folks are starting to arrive? I thought this was just a family thing,” I asked suspiciously.
“Close family, extended family, church family …”
“Uncle Roe you said …”
I heard him walking away with a snicker in his voice. Just what was he up to? Uncle Roe didn’t cut a shenanigan very often anymore but when he did … watch out.