I sit under the curtains on the seat right under the window. I watch as a V-car passes on the road and just as it appeared on the horizon it’s gone and passed the other horizon. I twist the ribbon in my lap and continue to look out the window even when someone knocks on the door. I don’t respond and continue to think of my life after this day, my wedding day. It is the worst day of my life; on TV they show the brides happy to be wed off to a man that their family picked for them. At least their families got to pick, for my marriage to this man was commanded by the emperor. To a family that my family has been feuding with for a while, I shall join our families together. I don’t want to be among those people and the nobles of the court of the emperor, another hated person in my family. He doesn’t seem to care about us and then when he wants something we must bend over backwards for him. Again a knock sounds, causing me to look over.
“Enter!” I call. My brothers enter and I scowl at them. “What do you want?” I hiss at them angrily. My oldest brother’s face draws an angry look at my tone but I couldn’t care less.
“Well, to wish you luck and also to tell you to get ready.” He, Matthew, spits.
“I don’t want your luck,” I say, looking away. “I don’t want anything to do with you.”
“Then this marriage will be good for you,” My other brother, Robert, says. His voice is tinged with laughter.
“I hate you, this marriage, and my life.” I spit at them. Robert looks at my brother and then slaps me. The slap is not as hard as Matthew’s but it does sting.
“Robert. You’re excused.” Matthew says. Robert looks perplexed but doesn’t press the matter, and leaves my rooms. “Sagilyne, you should not say such things. You have it nice, but you can, of course, choose not to marry.”
“Why would you say that and how?” I ask a sense of dread settling in my gut.
“Well, I will allow you to not marry, but then Cassie will be married in your place,” Matthew says. I think of my 14-year-old sister. Knowing that if I voice my concern, Matthew will say that I know what I have to do. I don’t want to marry but if I save my sister, then I must marry. Suddenly warm arms surround me in a nice, brotherly hug. “You know that if the emperor had not commanded it then you would not be marrying today.”
“Yes,” I sigh. “Please send a maid to help dress me for the wedding.” Matthew leaves and a few moments later my nurse comes in, holding the outfit I will wear to the wedding. The gown is beautiful and bright white with its golden ivy embroidery. I like it but it seems a shame that I’ll be wearing it a day I don’t plan to enjoy. I carefully slip into the dress and shoes. I don’t want to let my nurse do my hair but Matthew walks in and watches as my nurse braids my hair into a waterfall crown and sticks small blue flowers into the top of it. I put on my mother’s old blue necklace and my sister comes in.
“Here I thought you might want to borrow my earrings.” She says. “They match your necklace.” I smile. Matthew and Robert help me up and we go down the stairs. I walk to the chapel and wonder what my soon to be husband looks like. Matthew tucks a veil into my hair and then pulls the rest of the fabric over my face. I used to wonder, when I was young and still watching those stupid movies, why they covered the bride’s face, then one day I asked my mom why and she said that it was because the bride was so nervous she didn’t want to show her face to everyone, but then as I grew older I somehow knew it was so that the man wouldn’t reject the girl if she was ugly. I watch as the doors open but the crowd is just a blur of colors. I see a man standing at the end of the aisle. I keep walking though my legs have started to wobble. When I get down to the altar my fiancé takes my gloved hand and leads me up the steps to stand in front of the priest and altar.
“Do you, Sagilyne, take Jackson to be your husband, to love, and obey him in sickness or in health?” The priest asks. His words are measured and steady.
“I do,” I say, though I would rather not. The priest nods as Jackson slips a ring onto my finger and says almost the same thing to Jackson, exuding the obeying part, of course.
“I do,” Jackson says. I put the ring on his finger. The priest smiles and tells my husband that he can kiss me. Jackson pulls my veil away from my face. There is a sharp intake of breath, that includes my husband’s, and whispering.
“She’s beautiful,” A lady that whispers to the person by us. Jackson kisses me and then we exit the chapel.
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