She was never one for “I love you” or even “I love you too.” Maybe she should have been, but she wasn’t.
She was one for “You’re not good enough” and even “You’ll never be good enough.” She probably shouldn’t have been, but she was. So it wasn’t surprising when I caught her snogging my fiance twenty minutes before we were due to spend the rest of our lives together. Well, it wasn’t that surprising, and maybe “caught” isn’t the right word. I’m not really sure they were trying to hide it.
My stoic face looks back unto itself, trying out different expressions. Butterflies in a sun soaked meadow! The smell of freshly cut grass! Listening to an amusing but confusing anecdote! Remembering that you’re a goddess! Instructions from the “How-To Expressions for Every Occasion” Youtube video float around the room as I try to emulate them. Too teethy. Too smiley. Not smiley enough. Constipated? None of them fit right, because there wasn’t an expression for You’re just about to get married on the beaches of Hawaii like you’ve always dreamed of and everything is perfect but you’re feeling terrible!
“Fuuuuuuuck this,” I sigh, the ends of my mouth reverting back to a frown. Mariella eyes me from her peripherals, barely, looking away from her Victoria Secrets Magazine for just long enough.
“You know...how about you just be yourself? It’s not like you’re gonna wear a scowl on your face when he’s reading his vows to you.” Her teeth subtly clamp down on the side of her lips as she goes back to poring over the models, all prettier than me.
“I might,” I respond, even though I don’t think I will.
“Because you’ll actively try to?”
“No. Because maybe that’s just how it’ll be. I guess now it definitely might, since I can’t stand to practice these god awful expressions any longer.”
With one last look at Taylor Hill seducing the page, Mariella tosses the magazine to the side, where it lands on an equally as glamorous model. This one isn’t scantily clad though. Instead, her curves are adorned by a majestic white dress, the middle split into an intricate design of lace flowers, the bottom uniquely woven with tiny plush feathers all around it’s edges. It was beautiful; she was beautiful. Her chestnut brown locks weaved, as if sown perfectly together, down her nude back, snowy pearls intertwined into them perfectly. Her saccharine smile complete with a nude gloss wasn’t too teethy, or too smiley. It was what the mentor from the video, Linda Carousi, would call Seeing angels for the first time, before realising that YOU are an angel too, and now your real family has come to take you up to heaven with your soon-to-be husband where you can live out the rest of your days being an absolutely fucking beautiful stockphoto couple! Maybe not, but the former part definitely.
“You look beautiful as is,” Mariella remarks cautiously, noticing my transfixion on the model in the wedding dress.
“I’m underdressed,” I comment, for the first time imagining getting married in anything else. Anything. Else.
“No! Daisy, stop it,” she reprimands fiercely, grabbing my shoulders and shaking my demure frame.
“You literally look so perfect. SO perfect. You’ve been dreaming of this look, this place, this wedding, since I can remember. Who gives a shit about those models, they’re all airbrushed anyway. Victoria’s Secret? More like Victoria’s Ruined the Life of Every Teenage Girl Ever.” Her grip tightens on my shoulders as she makes it a point to stare straight into my eyes and refuse to look away until she knew that I knew that she was right.
I glance to the side, the mirror reflecting a face that was lost. I see her still staring, but I also see her. I see her so clearly, one lei wrapped loosely around her neck, the other tightly around her head. I see my best friend, beautiful and stunning and right here with me, like she’s always been. I see her, in my past, present, and future. Her eyes tearing up when I told her it was finally happening, I was finally settling down with the One. Her, here, holding me tightly like she always does when she knows I might slip away, reassuring me that I’m perfectly perfect. Her in the unknown, spoiling my kids and coming over for dinner dates with her potential partner. Possibly. I don’t know the exact dynamics to that, but I do know that she’ll be there. Maybe I should have married her instead.
Then, I see me. I see myself, hula skirt, a lei identical to Mariella’s, though around my waist. I see the coconut bra. It holds something, something beautiful and ineffable and terrifying. Well, apart from my perky boobs. No, it holds something so much more; the secrets of my heart. And today, it’s been thudding against my rib cage, fighting to get out, dying to let me know that I love him. I genuinely, truly, really do love him. I love Nick Capaldi with all my heart, and I want to marry him. I’m about to marry him.
The kid had skidded past, chasing his friend, and I thought that maybe in the rush, I had heard him incorrectly. Even Mariella assumed it was nothing short of a crude joke from a kid forced to attend a sappy beach wedding.
“I swear to god, if your kids end up that disrespectful I’m not gonna refrain from slapping their tiny asses,” she grimaced as I laughed, the fears of earlier ebbing away.
“Be my guest,” I giggled, but the phrase kept coming back to nag me.
By the way, Nick’s kissing your muuuuuum. On the lips! and then he had ran off in the way that little kids do when they’ve just said a naughty word.
“It had to be a joke, right?” I ask Mariella nervously, anticipating nothing less of the answer she gave.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.” She winked, mostly for the sake of me. I wasn’t too sure, but she definitely did not expect to be so wrong.
Kissing on the lips didn’t even cover half of it. They were full on eating each other, her legs draped around his waist, his waist with her legs around it, her arms around his neck, his neck with her arms around it, her nails-her claws-digging into his back, his back, his bare back, forming half moon indents-
“WHAT THE FUCK," Mariella shrieks, her already wide eyes looking as though they were about to pop right out.
"WHATTHEFUCKWHATTHEFUCKITYFUCK,” she keeps saying it, over and over again, even though they split apart within seconds, like picking petals off a flower. Like cracking open a walnut. Like cutting your heart in two with a chainsaw.
“God...no what. WHAT? What the fuck are you guys doing?” Mariella’s shrieking seems far away, like I’m underwater with the fishes and she’s on land with the sharks. My vision blurs-am I crying, or really underwater?-and I can see my fuzzy mum patting down her hair while Nick dabs at the rose gold smudge on his lips. I see their lips moving but I can’t hear anything anymore, not even Mariella’s shrill tone, although I see her talking too.
“Why were you guys kissing?” I manage to croak out, I think. I’m not sure, because the tears or the ocean or the waves or whatever wet substance is rolling down my cheeks engulf me into a sea of sickening nostalgia and confusion and hurt and anger and I’m drowning this time. I’m definitely drowning.
I was never meant to be born on her wedding day. It’s not like I planned it or anything. I was just chilling in the womb, the amniotic fluid keeping me just the right amount of warm. I was comfortable, and definitely did not want to suddenly start feeling all these weird sensations, wanting to get out as soon as possible because I was suffocating and I somehow knew that the only way to stop was to push and push and push-
And there I was. In this...non-womb? I didn’t know where I was and all I could see was a blur of so many things I couldn’t just seconds ago, and was all just so much to take in. And things, like, slippery things on my face came out of my...holes? I had holes and they were leaking and I could suddenly breathe but it was like nothing I’d ever done before, not like the easy breaths in the womb. It was something fresh and exciting and quite frankly, terrifying.
Of course, my mum didn’t care for any of my feelings. In fact, her story was peppered with far more horrifying details, spurts of disgust and vile protruding every time she regaled it.
It was the happiest day of my life, before you decided to ruin it. How could you do that, Daisy? Why would you do that?
I don’t know, Mum.
We were getting married, Liam and I. Leah and Liam. We were in love. I loved him and he loved me and we were soulmates, bound to be together forever and everything was finally working out, you know? We had invited everyone, EVERYONE, even my mum came after years of hating him, but she was there and she was finally ready and I was ready and it was perfect. It was gonna be perfect, and he was reading his vows to me. I was tearing up at how wholesome they were, and I had these weird cramps but I thought, you know, it’s probably a mix of the butterflies and joy. And I didn’t think...I didn’t think it was anything else...or could have been anything else.
So you can imagine my shock and pain-oh god, it was so painful-when in the middle of him telling me how he can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together, my water broke. It just broke, just like that! Aha! And I was screaming in agony because it was so destroying and I was crying because it was only 33 weeks. 33 weeks premature, I never would have thought it. And I was scared, so fucking scared. Because no one knew, no one knew I was pregnant. We had put so much time into concealing it for that long; even my wedding dress was suited to discreetly hiding my bump. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t getting married because of you. We were both ready, and it was just convenient that you weren’t due yet. It was supposed to be a surprise, Daisy. I knew that if it happened after the wedding, the embarrassment would eventually die down. We would eventually live without a taboo on our heads.
But then you just had to come out, right there and then, on my fucking wedding day! In the middle of our vows! And one of Liam’s friends, he was a doctor or something, he helped me, but you could see the disapproval in his eyes that mirrored everyone else’s. I could see my mum, far away, horror on her face, letting me know that I let her down. Again.
The doctor left. The guests left. She left. Eventually, Liam left too. The only thing that was left was you and I.
It was the worst day of my life. How could you do that to me, Daisy? Why would you do that to me?
I’m sorry, Mum.
One day, I’ll ruin your life too.
“Nick’s not good enough for you,” she had said casually, six months before the wedding, sipping her fruity sangria and looking through the flower catalog.
“I don’t know why you bother to help me with this shit if you’re just gonna be unsupportive. You said that we would mend things. If this is your way of doing it, then your definition of ‘mend’ is seriously skewed,” I spat, tired of her annual empty promises.
“He’ll never be good enough for you,” she maintained, like I hadn’t heard it about Josh and Samuel and Vyasar and every other boy I’d ever liked, loved, a million times before.
“Thanks, Mum. You’re truly the best.” Maybe she was a little tipsy, I decided. After all, she had traveled all the way down to help me plan this. She couldn’t possibly mean it, after all these years. And at least her remarks on lack of worth weren’t directed at me. They hadn’t been since I was a child.
“I’m sorry, Daisy. That was rude of me...I don’t know what’s gotten into me today. I’m sorry darling-ooh, look at how gorgeous these are! That's it, we’re gonna have a bunch of daisies placed on the tables and the arch. Daisies, for my beautiful Daisy.” And she had smiled and squeezed my hand, and I squeezed it back. Maybe this was the day everything turned around.
She was one for “I love you” and even “I love you too” apparently. Just never to me.
She was one for those terms for endearment and more, especially now. She was one for them as she walked up the aisle, the daisy arch, my daisy arch, looming ahead. Is it just me, or does Daisy look shorter? and the likes were muttered in hushed whispers. It’s not me, it's my mum, I’d try to say, but there was still water in the lungs and the salt had shriveled up my tongue.
She was one for them as she reached the stage and clasped Nick’s sturdy hands. Is it just me, or does she look older too? and the likes were muttered in louder whispers. It’s not her, it's her mum, Mariella tried to say, but there was still a whistle in her lungs and the tip had indented her tongue.
She was one for them when she hesitantly took off her flowered veil, a malicious smile playing upon her face. That’s not Daisy, that’s her mum! and the likes were spoken in intense gasps. Told you, Mariella and I tried to say, but our lungs were filled with soggy daisies and the petals had inundated our tongues.
“I’ve loved you for so long, Leah Richards. I’m so glad fate had your daughter and I meet. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never got the pleasure of knowing someone like you. And god, you’re perfect, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together. I love you.” Nick doesn’t look at me, not once. He looks straight at my mum, a silent tear rolling down his cheek.
“Oh, Nick. I love you too. So much. So so much. I love you!” Mum looks at me, just once, but it’s enough. She ignores everyone else, and looks straight at me, a knowing smile curving on her lips.
And then it finally hits me. Nick was good enough for me. He was always good enough for me, and I was always good enough for him and for everyone else. She did it on purpose. She wanted me to question it. To know that I loved him despite her judgements. That we were soulmates, bound together forever. Only when she knew I was at my happiest point, would she attack. She’d hammer his unworthiness to me, while hammering him on the side. It would be the perfect revenge.
One day, I’ll ruin your life too.
I watch as she turns back to him, and everything happens all at once and now they’re kissing, kissing in front of everyone and everyone is horrified and confused and Mariella tugs on my arm to pull me out from under the water but I don’t budge. I just sit there, watching.
I don’t know exactly how it looks, but I’m sure Linda Carousi would describe my expression as something like this: That moment in time when you thought you were about to start the rest of your life, truly start the rest of your life, finally, with your mothers approval and the man of your dreams and your best friend by your side but instead your fiance loves your mother and decides she’s the one for him, and now you watch, as your mum and your fiance get married!