This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, but the wedding of Kayleigh Reynolds and Liam Hampton wasn’t the glorious event that everybody had hoped for. What it turned out to be was a parade of broken hearts.
It had started out just like any other wedding day. Kayleigh stood there in her wedding dress facing the mirror. She couldn’t deny how beautiful her dress was. The problem was that despite her dress being beautiful and she, Kayleigh, being the one stood there in it, she just didn’t feel beautiful at all. She felt like a mess, and she felt ugly. Nobody could convince her otherwise. Kelly told her she was being ridiculous. That’s Kelly Roberts. She and Kayleigh had been best friends for just over thirty years. They had met in primary school on the very first day. Kayleigh could always count on Kelly, and that’s why she had been chosen as maid of honour. Kayleigh wasn’t cooperating, though, and refused to accept that she was anything other than ugly. She wasn’t thinking straight either. She was on an emotional rollercoaster. She felt nervous, excited, terrified and anxious, and that was just in that one moment. Her emotions were fluctuating all the time. Every emotion that exists had been felt by her on that day, and that was just when everything had been going to plan.
Liam Hampton woke up that morning with a feeling he hadn’t expected, dread. He loved Kayleigh, and he wanted nothing more than to marry the woman that had helped him to turn his life around. He loved her so much, but not only that, he owed her the world. Five years ago, his dad had passed away. He had taken it badly and found himself on a slippery slope. His sister Evelyn had saved his life, but he still felt like a piece of him was missing. A piece of him always would be, nobody could replace that part of him, but then he met Kayleigh, and his life felt complete. A piece of his heart was still missing, but the piece of her she offered him almost filled the cavity. On that morning though, on the day when he should have been happier than he ever had been, he wasn’t. He felt melancholy. He missed his dad more than ever. His dad wasn’t there on the biggest day of his life, and that just didn’t feel right.
Kayleigh's self hatred session had met its end, not just thanks to Kelly, it was a group effort from all of her bridesmaids. They had caught her unawares with stories of not just her physical beauty, but her inner beauty too. She forgot to hate herself for a moment, and a smile slipped through the cracks. That was when she realised that her own opinion of herself and other peoples opinions weren't necessarily the same. She may have felt ugly, and look it in her own eyes, but Liam wouldn't see it that way. She was still nervous, but not anxious. She was excited more than ever. She couldn't wait to become Mrs. Kayleigh Hampton.
Liam couldn't get his head straight. It was the morning of his wedding day, and he should have been getting ready. Instead, he was drinking beer from the can. ‘Just one to get my head straight’ he told himself. Then it was 'just another to calm my nerves.' Two beers became three, three became four, four became five. And so on and on and on, you get the picture.
Kelly's phone was ringing. It was her brother Darren, he was also Liam's best man.
"Hello," Kelly answered.
"We have a problem!" Darren sounded anxious.
"Oh for f..... What is it?"
"We can't find Liam."
"WHAT?!" She shouted.
Kelly then reminded herself that Kayleigh was in the next room. She forced herself to lower her voice significantly.
"He's not at his place. I came over and he didn't answer, so I used the spare key. He's not here. I don't know what to do."
"Do you have Evelyn's number?" She asked him, just about a whisper.
"His sister, no. Never met her."
Kelly gave her brother Evelyn's number.
"Call Evelyn. Whatever is going on, she'll sort it. She's the only one besides Kayleigh who can ever get through to him."
"Maybe he just popped out for fresh air. Shall we wait?"
"We don't have time to wait, Darren! They're getting married in two hours. Sort it! I don't have time. I need to keep the bride happy,” Kelly hung up.
Kayleigh’s chariot of choice was a Rolls Royce That had been paid for by her father, Frank. The driver was a friend of her father’s called Ross Worth. She had never met the man before, but by the end of the car journey she had learnt his life story, as had Kelly and the bridesmaids who were all passengers in the same vehicle. As they arrived at the church, Kayleigh’s mother, Anne, was waiting outside. She took a final drag from her cigarette as the car pulled up. She dropped it to the floor, and squashed it with her shoe. Kelly spotted her angry expression. This wasn’t good.
At the same time that Anne Reynolds took that final drag of her cigarette outside St. Michael Church; Evelyn Hampton had just got off the phone with Darren. She was worried about Liam. Why would he just disappear on his wedding day and not tell anyone? He had been so happy since meeting Kayleigh, he had been the happiest she had seen him in a long time, so what had happened? Evelyn tried ringing her brother, but he wasn’t answering. She didn’t see the point in leaving a voicemail. She knew he wasn’t at home, but wasn’t sure where else she might find him. A long time ago he had gone out to Hester Point and almost drank himself to death. Evelyn didn’t think he would have gone there. It was fifteen miles away, and Darren said he hadn’t taken his car. Evelyn took a step back in time in her thoughts. She was up at Hester Point, her brother drunk and bleeding. She had saved his life. That had been the day their father had died. Liam had taken it badly. It wasn’t apparent to Evelyn at the time if he had planned to get drunk to stop the feelings, or if he just planned to drink himself to death. I don’t think Liam even knew that himself. He was happier now though, wasn’t he? Liam had been talking of this day for the longest time. To marry the woman of his dreams, to share that moment with family. That was when it hit her. Dad. He wouldn’t be there. Liam needed his dad today, and it wasn’t an option. Evelyn didn’t know if this was a relapse, or just Liam needing to clear his head, but she knew one thing, she had realised where her brother had gone.
Later that Evening Kayleigh was at home on her own trying to forget the day's events. Kelly had offered to stay over with her, as had her mother, but she just wanted to be alone. The man of her dreams had stood her up, and all of her family and some of his too, had all been there to witness it. She was broken hearted, and she was embarrassed. She just wanted to find a cave, crawl inside, and hide in the dark until everyone had forgotten all about it. Kayleigh was seriously considering going to bed and crying herself to sleep when there was a knock on the door. Somebody hadn’t got the memo she wanted to be alone. Reluctantly she got to her feet and answered the door; not even bothering to wipe the tears from her eyes.
As the door opened; Kayleigh’s eyes met Evelyn’s. She, too, had been crying.
Liam had gone to visit his father’s grave at Walker Row Cemetery. He was already drunk when he got there, and his mobility was severely impaired. He had fallen, and cracked his head on his father’s headstone. When Evelyn found him lying there he had lost a lot of blood. She couldn’t find his pulse, but he couldn’t be dead. That was what Evelyn kept telling herself. She cradled him in her arms. The tears were now coming thick and fast. She told him he would be ok, that he needed to go home and get ready for the wedding. She wasn’t talking to Liam really though; she was talking to herself, and she was lying. Reality hit her after a few minutes, and she embraced her brother, and cried like she had never cried before.
“I found Liam at the cemetery,” Evelyn told Kayleigh. “By then it was too late.”