The Wedding March by Robert Vaughan

The congregation whispers, fidgets, and breathes like bellows. The wedding party are running way behind schedule. Tensions mount as the ceremonial time passes. The bald pastor rearranges his papers. Checks his watch, the lines deepening on his face.

Her wedding party fixes, adjusts, makes last minute preparations. She can’t seem to get her ringlets to behave, to twist in the manner they did at her run-through. “Do something,” she pleads with her maid of honor. Her panic mounts. She grabs the curling iron, snaps, “You’re just making it worse!”

To calm her, dad leads her aside, into the narrow hallway. He wants to savor these last moments with his sole daughter. His pride and joy. He takes her hand, opens it face up in both of his. Says, “When I was your age, we could fit everything we owned right here.” Traces a circle in her hand with his finger. “We had nothing.” He sighs, thinks of his own failed marriage. He asks her, “You’re sure you wanna do this?”

It takes her by complete surprise. The one question she wishes he might have avoided. She glances outside to steel herself, into the churchyard. The sun gleams on the gravestones. It feels like she’s wearing ankle weights as the organ barks the wedding march.

.

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26 Comments

Filed under Robert Vaughan

26 responses to “The Wedding March by Robert Vaughan

  1. Somehow I think maybe she could reconsider. Sounds like more than cold feet!

  2. Someone once asked me that question. I reconsidered. Great piece, the dread and the inevitability and a congregation breathing like bellows.

  3. Perfect buildup to this, and on something that seems so ordinary, happens every day, yet one of the biggest events in our lives. Nice!

  4. Love the way you hint at the back story.

  5. Andrea

    play another wedding song
    a wedding song goes on and on
    see the churches falling down
    this is only in your mind
    we’re useless
    we’re useless
    all their dresses stand so white
    all the brides are all in white
    play another wedding song
    a wedding song goes on and on
    we’re useless
    we’re useless
    walking on the paper ruins
    shoes and rice and one two three
    picking through the plastic ruins

  6. Todd

    A woman’s nightmare, so well crafted, right down to the last line. Loved this one! Thanks for posting the link on your Facebook page. I had no clue this site was here!

  7. Yasmine

    I had a feeling similar to this directly before my first wedding, Needless to say, you don’t have to ask how that one turned out.

  8. Theo

    Brilliance and mastery in composition; just enough emotion to make me want more. Great stuff, once again, Robert!

  9. “You’re sure you wanna do this?” This took me by surprise but I see, with the last paragraph, is was a perfectly timed turn. Like too how the entire story is laced with unspoken hesitancy. Well done.

    • Sometimes another writer can pick up on nuances in a flash piece that the author had no idea of, never even intended. Thanks for pointing this out, Al! I really appreciate it, and you, of course.

      • Al McDermid

        That’s what I love about this format, getting to see what I didn’t see, thanks to you and the other members of this excellent community.

        I guess Derrida et. al. deserves a hats off as well.

  10. As Al says, there’s a hesitency in the words themselves. You’re really good at this kind of effect. Bravo!

  11. Randal Houle

    don’t do it! don’t do it!

    just kidding. enjoyed this, especially the cliffhanger.

    • Hi Randal,

      Thanks for playing, I’m glad you had a definite reaction here on what the protagonist ought to do. And all kidding aside, I appreciate your input and comments.

  12. Read this twice, to get all the layers. The scene with the father and him tracing her hand – so telling. Just. Super. Peace…

  13. Hello writers and readers,

    Thanks for all of your comments and support. I love this site, there are so many great writers here! So much inspiration. I appreciate every single word.

  14. Frank D

    This is really superbly crafted, so real, how one question can turn an entire world upside down. Really great!

  15. stephen

    very nice. i’m interested in the layers of time in this piece, how time goes unhinged from “ceremonial time” (which i decided to take in more than the sense you mean in the opening paragraph) and slows down as individual moments expand. that’s how i understand the last paragraph as working…i like the way it opens up onto a seemingly endless field with no particular reason to go any particular way.

    • Stephen,

      Aspects of time, how it plays out (or not), how it comes “unhinged” (love that word to describe the progression here) are so intriguing to me. The more obvious themes: impending marriage, always being at choice, etc. are merely the backdrop for the spiraling outward of a “planned” or “expected” event in one’s life. I chose time here rather unconsciously, and had I given it more thought, might have slipped in a word much like “unhinged” closer to the end. But, perhaps that might have been too much (or in my case, slipped me over the 250 word limit!!!) Thanks for your insights, always welcome.

  16. Jane Banning

    LOVE the ‘barking’ at the very end. How UNsacred….

    • Hi Jane,

      Thanks for your read and comments. The word “bark” here is what the traditional wedding march usually sounds like to me. I always find it uncharacteristically “cheery” and odd, like a Disney movie with all the wrappings tied perfectly on the package. I was once asked to lead a every early morning stretching exercise routine at a weekly yoga retreat (in my 20s). The ankle weights came from that memory.
      I find it a fun exercise in fiction, to use unexpected word combinations, like “organ barks.” Probably evolves from my poetry writing background. In any case, glad you liked it! Thanks!

  17. Pingback: Week #29 – The palm of your hand | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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