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The One That Got Away

Sunday Writing Prompt – Aghast

I wrote this story for our Rose City Writer’s (RCW) group competition – the prompt being – The One That Got Away. This story could also be titled, ‘It’s Complicated!’

The One That Got Away

The scene was set.  The avocado trees and fernery would give a gentle glow from the fairy lights that lit the way along the garden walkway. Nicola would make her way to the manicured lawn where the celebrant would be waiting with Jimmy to take their wedding vows. The wedding reception would be held inside the historic homesteafwith all the charm. As Nicola’s wish or rather demand was for a yellow theme, yellow ribbons and bows, white linen tablecloths, and the sweetest white ceramic dove salt and pepper shakers grced each table setting. Exquisitely realistic artificial yellow tulips in vases adorned the tables.

Phyll, manager of the wedding venue had needed to pull the event together in a tight time frame, as the bride and groom’s original plan was to elope. This went down badly with the Bride and Groom’s closest family and pressure was on the couple to have the service with at least some of the clan present.

Phyll dusted the stress off, feeling committed to bringing her typically stylish wedding event together, despite time constraints. It would all be okay on the day, she told herself.  She didn’t often agree to elopements, due to short notice, but she had agreed to work some magic for the couple.

Val lived next door and was the ‘super-host’ of her charming, tasteful Air B & B. She was ready for the newlyweds to enjoy her swimming pool, delightful home comforts, and luxuries for their wedding night.

However, prior to the big day, Nicola had several moments and meltdowns over small detail; the planning had not gone smoothly.

Nicola had been a bridezilla, giving grief to the dressmaker about the 25,000 hand-sewn pearls on the bodice of her wedding dress, as well as her bridesmaids’ hairstyles and makeup.  

Jimmy and Nicola had invited the closest family members on each side, a Best Man, and three Bridesmaids, to have a cosy party of 20.  It was a small gathering but, the Best Man, Dean, had reassured Jimmy that all would be well on the day.

“The wedding will hold as much pizazz and fun as one with 200 guests.” Dean was qualified to say this, as only he knew the content of his speech, and he was sure it wouldn’t disappoint for entertainment value.   

“Dad would never pay for 200 guests, anyway, so just as well. Hey, you have kept your speech clean, haven’t you?” Jimmy knew Dean too well.

“I can neither confirm nor deny, my friend. But rest assured, it will be a good laugh. My speech is going to be the least of your worries. Nicola has turned into a feral rat about this wedding, if I can be so blunt. Are you completely sure bout this, dude?”

“Yes, she’s been a handful. The bridesmaids have been telling me. She’s stressed about everything from the design on the paper napkins to how much makeup the girls should wear. Lisa doesn’t want to cake it on, but Nicola sees it differently.”

“Best leave all that to the girls, mate. That’s NOT our department. Stay well clear of all that drama.”

“A hundred percent. Dad has already told me to make a run for it.”

“He did? Wow. Well, hold that thought. Meanwhile, can you help me with these cuffs? They are the dumbest thing ever invented!”

A few blocks away at Sally’s house, the bride and her maids were getting made up. But the mood wasn’t light and excitable. Nicola was having another meltdown.

“I can’t do this! Call it off!”

“Don’t be rediculous! Have another wine. You’ve just got cold feet.”

“This isn’t about Sam, is it? That fling was a bad move.”

“Shhh! Don’t talk about the fling right now. She’s got cold feet. It’s normal so just ignore it. Dont you remember when you told us how much you loved him?”

Nicola took a breath. “Yes, I do.”

Good. You can still say those two words. That the only vocabulary you need today.”

“Im worried about Dean’s speech…” Nicola fidgeted with her gel nails.

“I hear it’s going to be a good one.”

“Well, it had better not be embarrassing!”

“Of course it’ll be embarrassing Nik…it’s your wedding after all. It’s, not going to be all sweet and fluffy.”

“Have some wine, you won’t feel a thing.”

“Just don’t bust out of that bodice! Those pearl beads will go everywhere!”

“Don’t get her started on the bodice, Fran… for God’s sake..”

Nicola was feeling a flush of fury as she considered how awkward it would be should Dean mention her discreet fling with his brother, Sam. Maybe it hadn’t been a good idea to take up Sam’s offer of dancing lessons. Blame it on the super-hot Paso doble.

With 20 guests, it was going to be a small affair, but as Phyll called it, a happy bride usually made for a happy event.

With Nicola’s incessant demands and bossy behaviour, Jimmy had been pushed to the limits to keep calm before the wedding. Dean had already threatened to bail out.  Just weeks before the wedding and half-jokingly, Jimmy’s parents had told their son to run for his life.  He had laughed, but as their big day approached, he had looked more keenly at his running shoes. He had completed two marathons in them so they had less tread than when new, but they would hold up for one more dash to freedom.

Aghast, doubt overwhelmed Jimmy’s thoughts and a voice in his head echoed his father’s earlier warning.  Run.

The dash happened while he and Dean waited under a garden archway altar for Nicola and her bridesmaids.  Dean had tapped his toes and shuffled his feet awkwardly for 40 long minutes, while the celebrant offered banter and the best of her joke collection to entertain the group, who were rolling their eyes with anxious anticipation. The bridesmaids had done their best to hurry Nicola along but it was a fail.

Both men had had enough.  Some eye movement to his father as Jimmy gave an expression that spoke volumes, to which his father gave a tiny nod. Jimmy and Dean excused themselves, stating they left something in the car. They discretely made their way to the car park.

With adrenaline driving them, slipping off their uncomfortable dress shoes and into their soft running shoes hidden at the foot of an avocado tree, they swiftly hot footed it into Val’s backyard. They explained their predicament to Val and regrouped before heading back down the Mountain in Dean’s car. 

It wasn’t how Jimmy had seen this day in his dreams, but Nicola was not meant to be his new wife. He would explain everything later and brace himself for Nicola’s wrath, but for now, he was relieved to be the one that got away.

Thanks for reading


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