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Romance Sad

The sun seems to shine all its light on her, and her alone. Blending with her sandy hair, the light can only emphasize her beauty, her grace, and of course, everyone else’s inferiority. Sadly, this will never be me - ordering the musicians around, in the grand garden of a chateaux in the suburbs of Paris. S, the bride to be, is claiming her title of ‘Lady of the day', acting like a princess and sporting an elegant diamond tiara that perfectly complements her white ball gown. She is currently screaming at the lead singer for not planning to sing her favorite ballad. Of course, the poor soul has no fault in that matter - he only obeyed M's wishes (the groom). But I have to give it to her - she looks utterly royal. I wish I could have even half of her confidence, her beauty.

I patiently wait for my turn to introduce myself to her. It would be my first-time meeting S. in real life, without the safety of an Instagram account to hide behind. When she made me the offer to come photograph her wedding in Paris, I first thought it was a scam. No one in their right mind is willing to fly a rather unexperienced photographer across the ocean and pay her 9000$ for snapping some photos of your fairytale wedding. No one but S., it seems. Eyeing her beautiful gown, I feel underdressed for the occasion. I am wearing a plain black button up and a navy-blue skirt that ends way below my knees, making me feel like a grandma coming to pick up her nephew from school. She is a bride in this world, a princess in another and perhaps a proud queen in her own world. This will never be me. And I am nervous. As I wipe my sweaty hands again and again, she waves and smiles at me, calling me over.

This will never be me.  I force a wide smile as I fluff the bride’s pristine white gown. I stop when my fingers graze the cold metal surface of what seems to be a safety pin. I crouch lower, almost disappearing under the enormity of the dress, and I remove the pin. With it, a blue piece of cloth with gold jewels falls to the ground. I crawl back from under the dress, cloth in hand and I notice that it’s actually a glove – with the letter S imprinted in gold on it. Gold drops are sprinkled all over the elegant, yet curiously small, glove, making it spark in the sunlight. I smile as I throw the bride a concerned look.

‘You know that gloves aren’t supposed to go under the dress, right?’

S. looks at me devilishly and she snatches the glove out of my hands, a tentative smile adorning her blushed face.

‘Oh, this is rather embarrassing. It was the first gift I received from the man I love… so, I wanted it to be my “something blue” for the wedding. It’s completely unusual, I get it. You must think I’m the silliest parson ever!’

‘No, no, not at all! It’s beautiful, so romantic! Here, let me put it back.’

As she hands me back the glove and I crawl back under the dress, I can’t stop the rush of envy that takes over me. The first gift that M. has ever bought her is a pair of blue gloves, sprinkled with something’s that’s probably gold. And the way S. blushed when she admitted the nature of the gift… that is what love must look like. This will never be me. I get up, brushing some invisible specks of dust off my skirt and I point the camera towards the bride’s radiant smile.

‘You look beautiful, darling! Just smile and look at the camera!’

I take one, two, three steps back and I press my finger against the dented knot on the top of my camera. Snap.

M. comes into the frame, hugging S., so much passion in his eyes, that it almost makes me turn away. I take a photo of the happy couple, and then another one, another one, returning mentally to my place of anguish and frustration.

‘Now let’s take a picture of the beauties! Bride and bridesmaids – here, in front of the rose garden.’

 I squint in the powerful sunlight and I look through the camera. The colors are so vivid and everything feels so magical that I wouldn’t be surprised if the photos would bear the scent of roses. The bride’s white gown and the slim dark cocktail dresses worn by the bridesmaids perfectly contrast with the green and pink background… nature truly is beauty’s ally. The bride stands in the middle of her girlfriends – sorority sisters from what I could gather – a smile so wide on her face, one that rivals the spark of the sun. This will never be me. After half an hour of switching positions and smiles, I put my camera down, patiently waiting for the groom and groomsmen to come into the frame.

Instinctively, my nose scrunches in disgust when I see some of them already wobbling on their feet – the party hasn’t even started and the stench of alcohol almost covers the roses’ perfume. They all take up their rehearsed positions, and I bring the camera to my face. I focus, and… Snap. I smile in hopes that my disgust is not that obvious, and I receive a wink from the tall blonde guy standing near the groom. I was to find out later that he was the best man – “Derek – the ruinous heartstopper". I blush under his stare, but I shake it off as I take the next picture, and then the next one, and the next one.

After the groom’s photoshoot, I got right back at it with the bridesmaids. We changed the landscape dozens of times, until we settled on the far corner of the garden- where you could see the contour of the mountains, as well as the colorful flowers tainting the fields surrounding the chateaux. As I was staring into the small screen attached to the camera - the screen that has become such a vital part of me - I don't see it coming: a short blonde girl running towards me at full speed. And what a blast! My camera slips out of my hand as I try to brace myself, to get up from the ground. But first, I have to get this child off of me.

Shame, anger and frustration washing over me, I hurry to the clothing room, where I left my spare camera - thank God for my obsession of being overly-prepared. I spot the camera in the far corner of the room, and since there' s no hostess to escort me, I crouch down and pass the red velvet ribbon, running into the room, gaze fixed on my brown leather bag.

My hand is midair, reaching for the bag, when I notice it: a blue glove with gold drops sprinkled all over, discarded a mere five inches to the right of the leather bag. I pick it up, and I notice the gold S in the middle of the glove. It must have fallen from where I fixed it under the bride’s gown. But I am lying to myself. A little further, the bride’s whole gown is discarded on the floor, together with a black tuxedo jacket. That doesn’t concern me. That shouldn’t concern me. I switch the cameras, replacing the broken one with the new one from the bag and I want to leave this room. But I can’t. Impulse takes over mind and I find myself walking towards the door that I know leads to a second clothing room. I poke my head through the opening and it takes all my self-control to not gasp, nor scream, nor cry. There’s Derek, breathing in her perfume, while she tastes his neck, his lips. Without my consent, my hands fish the camera from where it dangled around my neck and I snap a photo of them: S and Derek.

What is wrong with me? Why am I doing this? This is not me. What is wrong with me? Nothing's wrong with me. I was hired to take pictures and that is essentially what I am doing. NO. What? I take my whirlwind of thoughts with me as I tip toe out of the room, camera hugged tightly at my chest.

Through a daze, I make my way back to the garden, trying to make a decision. It’s not my place to tell M., but he should know. Confront the bride? No. I let myself drop on one of the cushions displayed near the altar, gathering my knees up to my chest. Exactly how I used to do when I was a child. I am so distracted, that I don’t see the little blonde girl approaching me – the same one that caused all this chaos. She looks familiar.

‘Hi, I am Serena. I am so sorry for what happened! I swear I didn’t mean to crush into you! I promise I will tell Derek to buy you a new camera if your old one broke’ she whispers in a trembling voice.

My eyes instantly widen as I take in the name.

‘Derek?’

‘Yes, my brother. He will pay you back, I promise!’

For a moment I just sit there, staring at this innocent girl…

It takes me a couple of seconds to come back to the present and notice her odd outfit: she’s wearing a light blue dress, with dandelions all over and… and she’s wearing only one glove. On her left hand, Serena is wearing a blue glove with gold details sprinkled on it and the letter S imprinted in gold in the middle.

‘No need for that’ I say hastily. ‘What happened to the other glove?’ I add, trying my best to keep my voice steady.

‘Well, there was a pair at first, obviously’ she says giggling. ‘When my brother gave it to me some time ago, he said it’s more of a symbolic gesture: he gave the gloves to the girls he loved the most. Actually, he never wanted to tell me who the other girl was! Can you imagine?’ she adds with a pout which gives away her young age.

No, I can’t imagine. I don’t want to imagine the twisted lies. I don’t want to imagine the truth.

‘That’s a really interesting story… something you hear about only in movies’ I chime in, desperately clinging to the ghost of the smile that still remained on my face.

‘I’m sorry, I have to go now. It was nice meeting you, and don’t worry about the camera, all’s good!’ I say as I stand up and rush past her. I don’t wait for a response; I don’t need to. I’ve made my decision.

I hit ‘delete’ right as the massive six- storage chocolate cake comes into view. The photo’s gone. I watch as the waiters place the cake in front of the bride and groom, both of them radiating happiness, peace, and a drop of arrogance. I don’t miss it: the way M. looks at S. – like love is the only source of life for him, like his love couldn’t be fully understood even by Shakespeare. I snap one final shot of this beautiful pretend. She meets his gaze and her lips slowly curve upwards as she mouths: ‘I love you. To the moon and back’.

I don’t want this to ever be me.

May 13, 2022 13:26

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