Everyone, even silly old me, was surprised that Barnaby Harrington was getting married but when Gabriella personally handed me the embossed invitation, the event, like his revered television show, became reality.
My heart sank. What on earth would I wear?
The press was bound to be there, clamouring for photographs, especially of his exes; the classier organs orgasmic over those in fancy frocks, whilst the gutter press would relish a glimpse of trendy “’nip/wardrobe malfunctions’.
“The theme,” Gabriella gushed, “is roses.” Indeed the invitation was splattered with tiny confetti rose bud petals. “The centrepiece on each table will be a single bloom and, after the speeches, each guest will ceremonially remove a petal and crush its perfume sap upon their wrists, symbolising a marriage sealed forever.”
“Like the Jewish tradition of breaking a wine glass?” I said but Gabriella wasn’t listening.
That extravagant twee invitation riled me so I decided that my outfit will be scarlet, bright enough to overshadow her blasted blooms. I could sport a pill-box hat with a billowing dramatic black veil. That’d get the tongues wagging.
Alternatively I considered going for the dignified and demure look by wearing soft pink. Capitulating to Gabriella might be better than being an embarrassment. I pictured myself in a pale linen tunic skimming the knee and a simple single-breasted jacket; I’d be a chunkier version of Audrey Hepburn in Dior. Was a clown’s tear dribbling down one cheek upon my pallid make-up going too far, I wondered?
“Isn’t Gabriella fabulous?” Barnaby said at a rare catch-up lunch the day after I had been given the invitation. Following the Hawaii honeymoon that Gabriella had insisted upon, Barnaby’s office would move to the studio and I’d hot-desk wherever needed. End of an era.
“She’s wonderful, so imaginative! Please tell me you adore her.” Barnaby continued to eulogise.
I tried but failed to nod as I sipped my coffee which inspired me to go for something dark, and turn up sour-faced in layers of grey chiffon over a full black dirndl skirt.
“Mother just adores her.” Barnaby grinned.
I imagined wearing black stockings with seams snaking towards my thighs.
“Did you know Gabriella’s a Fairdrover? Got a stupendous trust fund so she doesn’t need to work, but design is her passion.”
No, I’d wear green. A vivid satin puffball skirt and an emerald sequinned blouse with a shades-of-envy peacock feather fascinator.
As the day for the nuptials approached I became more cowardly.
I needn’t go, need I? I asked myself, not daring to confide in any of our friends all of whom seemed as enamoured with Gabriella as Barnaby and his blasted mother who, I’d heard, had chosen a floral two-piece with matching embroidered pumps that would be quite useless in a puddle. Though, would the gods dare defy Gabriella and rain on Barnaby’s wedding day?
I felt drawn to a yellow (for cowardice) gown in a Mayfair boutique. The palest of primrose voile embossed with seventy tiny ochre butterflies. I counted them; counting is what I do. Amber beads, the death jewel, skittled around the belt and along the ankle-length hem.
On the day, despite all my flirts with colour, I went for tradition and floated down the aisle in white lace with a veil adorned with pearls. I carried the ruby red bouquet like a trophy of hope over indecisiveness. I’d chosen the dress all by myself. Clever, vibrant, exclusive Gabriella – wedding planner to the stars – had understood that in order to control everything else, the bride should be permitted to choose her own dress.
Carolyn Eden’s short stories “Free White Towel” and “Some Carpets To Remain” are published in Arachne Press anthologies “Liberty Tales” and “We/She” with “My Daddy” being published in next year’s “Departures”. Carolyn has had several poems and sketches performed at SLAMinutes at both the Arcola and Pleasance theatres. Her stories have been performed at Liars League London and Hong Kong. “Late Night” appeared in .Cent Magazine in 2013. In conjunction with her alter-ego, actress Carrie Cohen, she is developing a comic character, “Hilda Pimlico” who teaches senior citizens how to be difficult.
Katy Darby is the author of the novel The Unpierced Heart (Penguin) and co-founder and director of Liars’ League (www.liarsleague.com), the award-winning, internationally franchised live fiction event where actors read brand new short stories every other month. Their next event is Trick & Treat, a selection of uncanny tales for Hallowe’en, on Tuesday 9th October at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PP..