I woke up with a shock, it was like I didn’t expect to hear my alarm this morning. Springing out of bed as I realise the date. Today’s the day. Breakfast? Done, Shower? Done, now I’m sitting on my chair with one leg crossed over the other and a coffee cup in my hand. the dress hanging on my door. Today’s the day. I look at my left hand. The diamonds on my ring shine in the sunlight that dares to seep through the curtains. I smile.
“You’re so beautiful Sam.” He’s smiling at me. The world looks beautiful from up here, the sky slowly turning orange and pink. I have never felt so fortunate. “I have something to say.” He is down on one knee with my hand in his. “Samantha, you’re everything to me. I can’t imagine living without you. Will you marry me?” Of course I will.
I look at my watch. Shit. I glance at the mirror. My hair looks like it hasn’t been brushed in a week. Dark rings under my eyes. Even my fingernails are a mess. I wrinkle my nose and leave the apartment.
The door dings as I walk in, the sun shines through the windows casting a warm light. Lisa, who has been cutting my hair since I was five, runs over and envelops me into a hug squeezing tightly. “Show me the rock?!” she squeals. I glance in the mirror. Yes, it’s been that long. I hold my hand and show the diamond ring “He chose well,” I say. Lisa escorts me to her station.
“Are you excited?” she asks, running her fingers through my hair. I smile as she asks me question after question. “Is he sweet? Does he spoil you? Are you happy?” Yes, of course, he’s perfect. He’s probably more than I deserve, I tell her.
“Babe are you here yet?” He’s in the kitchen, yelling. I turn off the TV as he appears in the doorway. “I have a surprise for you.” He flops down on the sofa next to me and kisses my cheek.
“Well what is it?” He waggles his finger and jumps up, disappearing into the kitchen for a few minutes. “What are you doing? Oh no, should I be worried?”
His head peaks around the corner and waves me into the kitchen. I follow him and there’s a bouquet of roses, a box of chocolates and my favourite donuts on the table. I laugh “What is this about?”
“It’s your surprise. Happy anniversary baby.” He said picking me up for a hug. I wrap my legs around his waist, flipping my hair to the side I lean down to kiss his lips. “I love you, you big idiot.”
“Thank you for doing this for me! I love it.” I say as Lisa finishes my nails. I look in the mirror. My hair has never looked so good. I run my hands through it, the new blonde highlights accentuate my face. I flick my hair to the side and I get a quick glimpse of my nails, they’re a soft yellow, his favourite colour. I pay and leave the salon.
“I don’t usually do this kind of thing” he says, grinning like an idiot. He holds open the door of his car. He’s tall, blond, blue-eyed. I know nothing about him.
“So how do you know Pat?” I say deciding to get straight to the question that has been burning in my mind.
“He’s my cousin,” he says. “Wow, you really have no idea who I am, do you? Pretty brave getting in a stranger’s car.”
“Yeah, well, I want to support Pat and my car is at the mechanic to get fixed. So– “
“So now you know I’m related to Pat you’re regretting getting into my car!” He laughs, “I’m not going to lie, I totally get that.” He grins. I hold onto the side of my seat. Just in case.
His driving is a lot better than Pat’s and we make it to the show in one piece. I’ve let go of my seat.
“Hey,” he says as we get out of the car, “I forgot to tell you. I love the dress. Not everyone can pull off yellow. Not this bright anyway.”
“I wasn’t sure if this was what Pat meant by ‘dress boldly’, like what does that mean? Do I wear a costume or should I dress grab the boldest colour I have in my collection of clothes? I resigned to the latter as you can see.” I laugh shimmying my hips side to side causing the dress to fling in quick movements, “To be honest, I didn’t think I would ever see someone wear bright blue suit before until you knocked on my door.”
He walks ahead of me as if he was strutting down a runway, turns half his body and pouts in my direction. “You’re an Idiot.” I look away from him in an attempt to hide the smile.
Hands on his hips he gives me what appears to be the duck lip pout? I can’t be sure but I laugh anyway. “What? This is what girls like, am I right?” he has me in a fit of laughter by the time we reach the building. We spot Pat, “Cousin!” he says loudly as we walk in. I shake my head. This man is strange, but I like him instantly.
Walking around the room we debate on Pat’s eye for detail. We laugh and he tells me about a moment in history when he told Pat that he wasn’t going to make it as an artist, I laugh at him, I tell him he’s a fool to which he agreed. He’s funny and for a split second, I begin to imagine a future with him.
At home I slip myself into my dress and sit down at the vanity. Brushes, liquids, powders. His favourite lipstick. Blot, spray, smile. He didn’t much like me wearing makeup, use to say that he would love me no matter how I looked but dressing up for him, it’s something that I like to do and regardless of what he would say, he liked it too. I guess in a way; it makes me feel worthy of him.
I’m laughing out loud trying to smack his hands away from my hair. “No I don’t trust you, you’ll probably knot it up!” I say through fits of laughter as he tickles my ribs. He shakes his head. I sigh and move to sit between his legs on the floor. “Be careful, I love my hair,” I say softly.
He grabs a handful and starts brushing it. I close my eyes and relax.. My eyes fly open as he starts trying to braid, I can hear him cursing and I laugh. “Are you okay?” I ask curiously. “Et voila!” He claps his hands together. Imbecile. I grab my phone and switch it to selfie mode. My hair is braided on the side. My four-year-old cousin can do better. “You did pretty well.” I grin. “Time to change careers, yeah?” He pokes his head into the frame and sticks his tongue out. “Hey! That was a perfectly good photo that you just ruined.” I laugh smacking him lightly on his arm. I look at the photo, it’s not as bad as it could have been. “You’re still an idiot.” This causes him to smile and I rest my head in the crook of his neck, “But at least you’re my idiot.”
“Today is the day.” I slip my feet into silver high heeled shoes, grab the bouquet of pale pink roses and leave the house. I don’t bother to lock the door.
I look out of the window of the taxi, the traffic and buildings go by as if in slow motion, the sun is hiding behind clouds, it looks like it was about it rain. “Stop here!” I tell the driver, who pulls over almost immediately. I pay him and get out of the car. Bouquet in hand, I cross the road, hitching my dress up as I walk. I get to the other side as he begins to rain slightly, letting my dress fall back to my feet I bend down and place the bouquet on the ground next to the dozens of other flowers that are already there and pin a piece of paper to the wooden railing. Standing back up I lean my hip onto the railing. The rain is falling hard now. I look out over the river, in the distance you can spot the lightening along the horizon. By now I can tell that my hair is ruined by the rain but I don’t care, I clasp the ring that’s hanging around my neck and close my eyes.
“I hear there’s a surprise party up in here!” I hear a familiar voice yell. I turn to see Jason; my mouth falls open in surprise. The music starts as Jason slides his arms around my waist. “Thanks for doing this for me baby.” He whispers in my ear.
“You seriously crashed your own surprise birthday party?” I bump my hip into his stomach laughing.
“Jason, happy birthday.” His mother, Ariel, appears kissing him on the cheek. “If I knew that you were having a party, I would have had you celebrate at the house.”
“Mum, Sammy has done fine with the preparations.” He pulls me close with a smile.
“I see that.” She smiles and I see right through it.
I move to take a step forward when he squeezes me closer. “Babe chill.” He whispers with a kiss on my cheek. “Let’s dance.” He swings me in a circle before dipping me down and my hair scrapes the floor and I giggle. I love him, he’s perfect.
Moving my hair to the side I unclasp the necklace and place it around the wooden cross near the flowers. “Until death do us part.” I slip my feet out of my heels to climb over the rail ripping my dress on a nail in the process. Within seconds I lean forward and I’m flying. I’m flying through the air. I hit the water and there is darkness.
Jason’s mother pulls me aside. “What do you think you’re wearing? It’s just disrespectful.” She’s dressed properly of course. Black suit. Black shoes. Hair pulled back. No colour or softness or joy. Jason would have hated it.
“It was his favourite.” I tug at the strap of my dress. Bright yellow.
“He deserves respect. Don’t act like you know what he wanted. You were engaged for five minutes. I looked after him for his whole life.”
You don’t know what he would have wanted, I want to scream. He never got a chance to tell you. Or me. Or anyone.
But I don’t. Because the one thing he would not want is me to fight with his mother. Pat, my friend, offers me a black jacket and I pull it on.
“You should just go home and change, the service won’t be starting for another half an hour. You better be quick Samantha. We’re not going to wait for you if you’re not here by then.” His mother waves me off.
She turns her back to me, I growl softly as I take a step forward but Pat grabs my arm and we walk into the next room. “Not here Sam, Jason wouldn’t want you to fight with his mother. Not today. He loved you both. Think of him Sammy.”
“I am thinking of him, he would have hated this crap. It’s not him. She chose everything for him. Everything. What she failed to realise is that he didn’t want any of this, we didn’t want any of this. I understand that she’s grieving for her son but Pat why couldn’t she just let me give him his ring.” My hand immediately springs to the chain around my neck, I clasp the gold band in my hand. “We were supposed to live happily ever after.” Pat pulls me into a hug and I cry on his shoulder.
I think of the words I left for him. ‘I can’t imagine living without you.’