Losing Game

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Write a story about a wedding photographer.... view prompt

48 comments

Lesbian Fiction LGBTQ+

‘Repeat after me.’

The flashlight of your cousin’s cheap camera blinds me for a moment as we stand in front of the registrar. I’ve asked you to tell your guests not to get in our photographer’s way and spare us their underexposed and unflattering excuses of photos, but I guess, they didn’t get the memo. Despite my annoyance, for a split second I relish in the world’s disappearance into the white light, before it is back again with the overwhelming decor of fairytale lies and our crowd, a mix of human cupcakes and classy, victorian gentlemen, and you, standing there still, with your perfectly curled hair, feigning innocence in frilly white satin. My picture perfect bride. After the many weddings I have captured through my lenses, after all I have seen I thought no matter what goes down during ours, I cannot be caught off guard. Truly, I’ve seen it all: the bride tackling the mother in law at dinner, the groom running off with the best man into the sunset, the flower girl stepping onto the bride's train and ripping off her whole skirt and their old priest collapsing in a heart attack, and all the drama about getting the wrong cake or the wrong flowers delivered and the DJ not turning up, and the spectacle of bridesmaids locking a drunken uncle into a food cupboard. 

Your family tells me I should feel very lucky marrying you, but this isn’t how I imagined it, being on the other side of the lens.

We should be happy now. 

Our hearts, our eyes should be overflowing with love as your gaze meets mine, but my eyes are dry and sore, and my makeup had to be fixed a dozen times already. We are going to hate the photos, and I feel stupid. I have seen how the tables can turn, how the presumed daydream can reveal itself to be a nightmare. Naively, I still wished to enjoy this day. After all, it was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives and I finally didn’t have to be the one taking the pictures. But how can I enjoy knowing we are about to do something we'll regret? 

You repeat the words like it is the most certain thing in the world that we should, wearing your lovely, confident smile and that low cut mermaid style dress with the sparkly belt I could never pull off. I thought I would be anxious to match your beauty, trying my best to compete, to not look any less stunning than you would. Not like I stood a chance, you were always the one with the right curves, always the one with an approachable smile, always the one everyone loved and fell for. Even now, when you are choosing me, I’m losing: you are a better woman than I. 

But I don’t care to one up you now.

Are you a better woman than I? Others may look at us and see just what you show them, your perfectly happy smile on your pink lips, and my awkward, blank face, but I know you better by now. I know you enough to see behind your bright smile, and see the hardness in your eyes, and your slightly raised eyebrows, reproaching me for not looking the part. Why aren’t you smiling? This is no time for a meltdown, you are ruining the pictures. Please, don’t make a stupid scene!

But I cannot erase my frown, you are a better liar than I.

Remind me, why should I stay silent now?

‘I, Helen Claire Brown, take thee Evie Rose Taylor–’ you repeat after the registrar with a smile, but why? Why do you take me, when so many others want you? Craig from high school. You manager, Ted. Your best friend and maid of honour: Lou. Surely, you want her too.

My phone digs into my thigh, strapped under my ivory organza skirt, reminding me of the picture your brother, the only person in your family with a spine, has sent me. An image so very well exposed despite the awful lighting: sharp and clear with your betrayal. I opened it this morning, when I was having my hair pulled up into an updo. To everyone else, I said I was crying because it was too tight, but I confronted you.

You refused to kick her out of the wedding, refused to pick someone else for your maid of honour. You refused to admit you did anything wrong at all. “I didn’t cheat,” you rolled your eyes. “Yes, I kissed her. So what? It’s not a big deal, no need to make a fuss.” 

I wish we could skip taking the pictures, jump to the image processing stage and just dodge this whole wedding.

You should’ve apologised by now.

Of course Lou was always a point of conflict because she never hid she loved you, and I always suspected you had something going on between the two of you. How many times have I asked? How many times have you lied? Yet, on your lips is my name, replacing her kiss from the night before as you carry on with the script: “to be my lawful, wedded wife.”

I love you, but I cannot stand you right now.

The confidence you have in my answer makes my blood boil. You should be scared that I might jilt you. Right? But I suppose you know me too well, you must know I would hate it the most if you were to fall into Lou’s arms straight away and I would be the only one left alone, feeling miserable. I would be the one to blame for ruining the day,  even though you cheated, and I would be the one to look like a fool. I wish I didn’t mind. I wish I could make a scene.

I take a deep breath, I should calm down now.

‘Evie.’ you hiss, because it’s my turn and I am spacing out. Maybe you are finally scared of me saying no. I stare at you in silence for a long enough time to make you and our guests feel uncomfortable, and then a little bit longer. I don’t want to say it. I don’t want to say it, but if I don’t marry you now, Lou wins. I won’t give her that.

And so, I repeat my lines after the registrar. 

'I, Evie Rose Taylor… take thee Helen Claire Brown…' The words leaving a bitter taste in my mouth, but you still keep that smile of yours on, until you hear “You may kiss the bride.” That’s when it melts off your face, because you know when I’m mad, I do not want to be touched and you don’t want to be rejected in front of everyone.

“Evie…” you whisper my name pleading, when I don’t move. 

I could just not kiss you now. 

I could be petty and ask why don’t you kiss Lou, but that would make me the bad guy. I bite my tongue. Knowing we will still argue later, but maybe we can avoid all of our friends jumping for each other's throats if I just comply, I step forward. I might as well get comfortable in the prison we locked ourselves in, a marriage in which I don’t know if I can continue loving you. I might be a photoshop wizard, but even I can’t edit out the past, can’t forget an exposed lie. A short kiss is all I bear to give you, and after, I am watching Lou. Lookin at your faces, at least it’s clear: I’m not the only one left feeling miserable. It’s my win, and I force a smile for the camera.

It’s my win, and we are all losing.

Should I feel lucky now?

May 06, 2022 16:41

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48 comments

J.C. Lovero
15:26 May 07, 2022

Ri Ri~ What a story. You chose exactly the right moment to start and end here, and there is such an intimacy with the POV you chose. It's almost like a letter, which you know is one of my favorite styles to write. Kudos! The double-edged sword of a situation is so well done here and could be applied to so many other facets of life. You chose being trapped in a marriage, but it could have also been trapped in a job you dislike, trapped in a town you don't want to live in, trapped with a family that doesn't understand you... the list goes on...

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Riel Rosehill
16:00 May 07, 2022

Thank you <333 Wow I just realised I forgot to start my comment replies with welcoming people here... Welcome to my registry office! Here is your welcome champagne, take a seat on the left of the aisle if you are the guest of the bride, and on the right if you are the guest of the bride. The cake will be cut later. At the end I might even warm up to this story after all the nice feedback... Thank you so much!!

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J.C. Lovero
16:47 May 07, 2022

So, where do the party crashers go?

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Riel Rosehill
17:33 May 07, 2022

Zack's house 😃

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J.C. Lovero
17:54 May 07, 2022

I promise I'll be a good house guest 😆 😅 😂 🤣 😇

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Kelsey H
09:45 May 07, 2022

Great POV in this, how it's in first person but also addressing her bride as you. Sort of like a letter form. Anyway I thought it really intensified the emotions and sense of hurt and anger. The sense of 'you betrayed me' comes across more strongly than if she was saying 'Helen betrayed me'. I really enjoyed the opening sequence where early on the events are foreshadowed with the phrase 'fairytale lies' and Evie then recalls disastrous wedding she has seen, then describes her own feelings as she stands there. At first I thought it was just...

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Riel Rosehill
11:41 May 07, 2022

Hi Kelsey! Thank you so much for reading my story and taking your time to leave this awesome comment. I really struggled with this story, the title reflects how I felt about my Reedsy writing career & my chances in the contest as I was submitting it. I think referring to Helen as "you" was my crutch to get me through this plotless mess (you're right, it would be much weaker otherwise). The fact that you too found things you liked in it made my day. You're up there with my favourite authors on this site, so I really appreciate your feedback!

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Kelsey H
00:16 May 08, 2022

You are being way too hard on yourself, you are very talented and I always love how creative your stories are. I totally understand the self-doubt though, I often think I should really just stick to writing work emails! This is one of my favourite quotes, I can't even remember where I saw it but I wrote it down and it reminds me why I keep trying to create something, however hopeless it feels at times; "This is what art does Good or bad, it imagines the heart of another whether that heart is full of light, or trapped in darkness" I always e...

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Riel Rosehill
10:36 May 08, 2022

Thank you! (You definitely shouldn't just stick to work emails... but yes, the self-doubt is real.) That quote is amazing & thanks for the book recommendation, I have almost finished reading Circe so I'm just looking for my next victim from the library. :) Thanks so much for cheering me on - this is an amazing community!

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Kelsey H
23:33 May 08, 2022

Your welcome, looking forward to reading your next story!

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Zack Powell
18:18 May 06, 2022

Welp, I was wrong. I guessed you were gonna do the "Start your story with someone taking a photo" prompt, and I'm pleasantly surprised you went with this prompt (which I think is the most fun one). Bonus points for hitting up the Lesbian genre tag! 👏 As expected, there was no need to have low expectations: this was great! This dual 1st/2nd POV is on my writer's bucket list but I've never been able to get it to work for me, so it's nice to see it be used successfully. It's tricky to do, but you nailed it. "You" is way more intimate and perso...

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Riel Rosehill
18:57 May 06, 2022

Zack you are a literal ray of sunshine 💖 I really struggled with writing this, and by the time it was done, I hated it so much! (I was ready for the comments to just say "ew") Only I had no time left or anything else to post, but I was feeling so down thinking okay, now I'm exposed for being a bad writer! So, thanks for cheering me up here, I can't tell you how much I needed it. I think technically could've submitted this for that prompt too, but at the end decided this was more suitable. :D My original horror idea was going to be with the ...

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Zack Powell
19:38 May 06, 2022

LOL, I'm in the same struggle boat with you. 8.5 hours left in the contest and I've got exactly 159 words to my name, so don't think you're alone there. You've got yours posted at least - mine is gonna be ROUGH, I can already tell. Side note: I'm not sure a bad writer would have as many followers as you do. 🤣There are a bunch of us who enjoy seeing your brainchild every week, so that's gotta count for something, right? (That being said, the horror one sounds like it would've been really good too. 👀) I love a good LGBTQ+ drama though, so may...

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Riel Rosehill
19:53 May 06, 2022

As long as you post SOMETHING (anything!) I'm happy. You can do it, I believe in you! 😁 Side note: the horror one was going to be pretty much this same story + a darker creepy thing mixed it that would've made it quite a bit longer and would have added some past so... It would've been LGBTQ+ still, but the drama would have been more supernatural xD but it was gonna be this same wedding... Maybe one day I'll do something with that idea! Maybe it would've been better, but I thought it might get boring if I post too much horror. 😅

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Kate Winchester
21:03 May 20, 2022

Hi Riel, This is really good! I like how it all takes place during the vows. I also like how Evie decides to go through with the marriage so she doesn’t lose to Lou. It makes it more realistic- the feeling of being lonely If she doesn’t marry Helen. Your words and descriptions flow really well and nicely together.

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Riel Rosehill
22:57 May 20, 2022

Hi Kate, Thanks a ton! I really appreciate your feedback, I'm happy you liked it! <3

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Kate Winchester
23:28 May 20, 2022

You’re welcome 😉

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Daniel R. Hayes
06:25 May 16, 2022

Hi Riel, I'm sorry I'm a little late to this. I've taken a little break to focus on my novel, but I wanted to come back for a little reading :) This was a great story and I think you handled the subject matter really well. I like to give spoil free comments, so I'll just say that I think everyone should take a little time and read this. I simply loved it!! :)

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Riel Rosehill
16:04 May 16, 2022

Hi Daniel! I wouldn't worry too much, the comment section is always full of spoilers. Thanks for taking time to come back and read my story, and for your kind feedback. Best of luck with your novel, I'm struggling with one of those beasts too... Tough work, but I'm sure we'll get there one day! 😁

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Lavonne H.
03:25 May 14, 2022

Dear Riel, You punched me right in the stomach with this one. I know we all play games in our lives, but how sad that a marriage was going to begin with dishonesty, anger, and pay back. I loved it! [Reminds me of my parents' marriage and how well that went... ;) ] Your story could be used to teach youth in Life Classes about relationships. And choosing healthy ones (for boredom's sake!) Keep up the strong stories of modern relationships...they are a tad less scary than your horror ones. LOL. Yours in writing, Lavonne

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Riel Rosehill
07:52 May 14, 2022

Haha, you will be pleased to hear I'm not planning on any horror for the next one! Thank you so much for your feedback, it's always great to hear when a story is impactful, even if that impact is a gut punch. I also don't have high hopes for this fictional marriage.

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Crystal Glisson
20:36 May 12, 2022

I really enjoyed this. The timing from where you started and finished was perfect. You are very talented.

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Riel Rosehill
20:39 May 12, 2022

Thanks Crystal! I really struggled with this one actually - one of those stories that didn't come easily.

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Priyanka Chaya
03:14 May 12, 2022

Ou, I just loved this. Holding ourselves back because we don’t want someone else to potentially win is a feeling I don’t believe is foreign to anyone. What a great scene; really struck a nerve!

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Riel Rosehill
05:44 May 12, 2022

Hi Priyanka! Thanks for taking your time to read and for leaving this lovely comment. I'm happy you liked it!

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Riel Rosehill
05:44 May 12, 2022

Hi Priyanka! Thanks for taking your time to read and for leaving this lovely comment. I'm happy you liked it!

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Riel Rosehill
05:44 May 12, 2022

Hi Priyanka! Thanks for taking your time to read and for leaving this lovely comment. I'm happy you liked it!

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Marty B
21:14 May 11, 2022

I appreciated the connection to photography and her situation. The 2nd person POV was really well done, it is challenging! I liked this lne, might be a photoshop wizard, but even I can’t edit out the past' and the image of the wedding guests as cupcakes !

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Riel Rosehill
21:46 May 11, 2022

Thanks Marty! Given she was a photographer I wanted her to think through that lens - no pun intended!

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18:15 May 11, 2022

"It’s my win, and we are all losing." Woah- It's a nice(is that the right word?) classic. The couple marrying, but one not wanting to because the other cheated. This story's good, I like the way it was written.

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Riel Rosehill
19:10 May 11, 2022

Thank you! :D

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17:27 May 10, 2022

I really loved the story! I love the letter-style POV, and you did it very well. I really enjoyed the tone of this story, it was great. Your characters are complex and interesting and it worked really well. Thanks for another great story!

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Riel Rosehill
18:09 May 10, 2022

Thanks, Ella! I think it was my first time trying this POV, I don't think it will become a regular thing for me, but it was interesting to try!

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Chris Morris
18:31 May 09, 2022

Some really great writing here, but such a sad story. I particularly liked this line: "I might be a photoshop wizard, but even I can’t edit out the past, can’t forget an exposed lie." Great use of her talking about her job as a photographer to illustrate how much she can't get over what's happened between them. Just watch out - I spotted a few typos in the story, so could have maybe done with another round of editing. But aside from this I enjoyed it. Well done.

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Riel Rosehill
19:13 May 09, 2022

Hi Chris! Thank you for reading & leaving a feedback. Yes... I didn't find the typos and I had too many things on to hunt for them until the deadline, so sorry about that, I'm still trying to find them in my document - this, I can't change anymore unfortunately.

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Chris Morris
19:16 May 09, 2022

No need to apologise! I've certainly done the same many times myself. I've even had a self-published book out with typos in it. Difficult to catch them all, especially when you're so familiar with your own work, your brain autocorrects them!

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Riel Rosehill
19:54 May 09, 2022

Oh yes, my eyes glide over them. And there are some that I just wouldn't notice... My English is still not on the level of perfection where I want it! Thank you for warning me about them though, I like to know when something isn't quite right.

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Jay Mc Kenzie
08:27 May 09, 2022

I love how desolate and cold this left me feeling with the backdrop of what should be a celebration. The tone is beautifully bleak and I really enjoyed the fact that Evie is a wedding photographer. Lovely detail. The POV is perfect for this. I'm just so sad for all three of these women! "We should be happy now." Heartbreaking.

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Suma Jayachandar
04:50 May 09, 2022

God, you do have a way of finding the frailties in people's minds and etching them out in an unsettling way:-) People's neediness to find a way of building stable things amidst betrayals, insecurities, and uncertainty is portrayed so well in this story. You seem to excel in bringing out the horror and beauty entwined in such situations ( which is true for most of the situations life presents). I liked the POV you chose here. That paints the feelings raw, which works so well for this piece. Thanks for sharing this :-)

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Riel Rosehill
09:41 May 09, 2022

Hi Suma! Thank you for taking time to read and comment - I hope relocation is going smoothly for you! I love what you just said here (Finding frailties, unsettling writing, horror & beauty) because it's not something I think about when I write, my stories just like to turn out this way and I actually love it so much when someone can point out what is it I'm doing, be it good or bad! Thank you. ❤️

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L. Maddison
19:18 May 07, 2022

Oh this is all so skewed; a wedding with the the early reference to regret, the spine of the brother who sends evidence of the infidelity, the fear of Lou winning. What a hideous, tragic, warped celebration, and yet simultaneously so real. Very powerful.

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Riel Rosehill
19:50 May 07, 2022

Aww thanks so much! It's always great to get positive feedback from someone as good a writer as you. Btw I'm literally reading your latest story right now, just catching up on reading... You must have felt my presence, coming over here, haha (or, the other way round?!)

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Michał Przywara
20:36 May 06, 2022

A fun read! The resentment is strong with the narrator, understandably so. It definitely sounds like a shitty position to be stuck in. I'm kind of surprised she went through with it – and when she didn't say her lines right away, when she let the silence drag, that was a very tense moment. I think I held my breath, and I didn't know which way she'd go. I guess that reinforces "I love you, but I cannot stand you right now." But I have a bad feeling about this marriage. Off to a terrible start. I like the ending too. "It’s my win, and we a...

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Riel Rosehill
22:35 May 06, 2022

Thank you Michał! I also have a bad feeling about their marriage... I was toying with the idea of leaving it open ended, but then I decided against it on this occasion, and Evie went through with it. A questionable decision, but hopefully(?) understandable too, though I have not provided a lot of detail in this story..! 😅

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A.G. Scott
17:08 May 06, 2022

Losing* The structure of this story pulled me right along. It came in waves: you take time to describe things in the longer paragraphs, and then everything comes to an emotional crest with those simple, cutting, standalone lines, each a little stronger than the last. There were a few typos along the way you should check for, but I was invested in the way the story was developing, so it didn't bother me too much.

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Riel Rosehill
17:15 May 06, 2022

Thanks! Can't believe I just uploaded it with a typo in the title 🤦🏻‍♀️

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A.G. Scott
17:24 May 06, 2022

Better than no title!

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