The Impossible Bride – Never too Late
She opened her eyes to a sunny warm June day, thinking “My, isn’t life grand!” when it suddenly occurred to her that this was her wedding day. The look of peaceful bliss rather melted down her face, her eyes widened and her eager grin began to droop.
Holy Shit! Was this really happening? She became suddenly a little sick to her stomach. She’d known Tim for only six months, but yes, she was in love with him, and he made her happy. Victoria was thirty-eight years old and if she was going to get married then she’d better do it soon or she’d never understand the satisfaction her parents experienced when they celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary.
Victoria adored her parents and her four sisters, because she grew up in a pretty loving environment where she was the youngest and her sisters doted on her as much as her parents did. It was a near perfect scenario and at times perhaps it was almost too perfect. Perhaps being the youngest and the most pampered left her feeling as if she was never allowed to be independent but her father was the one who told her that she was special and that she would be the one to live a different kind of life. Perhaps he was living a life vicariously through her, but his words seemed to resonate with Victoria.
She had been proposed to three times and three times she left men at the alter, well, not exactly at the alter, but she left the relationships after invitations had been sent and flowers already ordered. She inevitably became frightened and as a result each time she came close, she’d back out awkwardly saying she wasn’t ready for this move. Eventually she thought, perhaps it was time to leave her city, Melbourne, as there were too many reminders that she was incapable of marriage. Besides there was a great big world out there and a lot to traveling she had yet to begin.
Her sisters were different, all married now, having babies, and they did not understand her need to be elsewhere. They tried to convince her to stay but once they were huddled together at the airport, they knew she’d made up her mind and they hugged and kissed her, making her vow that she would call them often and come home soon.
She was fortunate to find employment in Brunei where English-speaking teachers were at a premium and she found that teaching young children was something she was especially good at. She missed her family dreadfully and she experienced homesickness often but would not let her family know this. Instead she went home whenever she had a school break to re-connect with her family and as the years passed she did travel to exotic destinations, which was easy due to her central location. She loved the experience of other cultures and languages, so travel was both easy and rewarding. She thirsted for this kind of freedom, didn’t she?
Victoria was not a nun and she had other male encounters but each relationship ended before it really got started and somehow this was acceptable to her, as it eliminated any further disasters at the alter. Victoria was a social butterfly, she found friends easily so although she missed her sisters, she rarely suffered from loneliness but she did notice that with the passing of time, the idea of having children of her own, was fading, instead she adopted the fact that she had thousands of children, over the course of her teaching career.
One day after a much needed visit with her family, she sat at the Melbourne airport terminal, awaiting her return flight to Brunei, when she heard a definite British, baritone voice that sparked her interest. She was instantly drawn to the voice, it came from a few rows behind her but instead of turning around to see the man from whence it came, she listened to him speak about a project he was obviously recently involved with. It became apparent to her that he was speaking to a group of students who had accompanied him on an archeological dig in New South Wales. They were headed back to London that same afternoon, and though Victoria was immediately drawn to the voice, she waited for a few minutes before turning around, just imagining the owner of this yummy voice. When she turned around to find the man with the magical voice, she saw no one there, perhaps he’d gone for a drink or to the rest room, but now for some reason it became more urgent to her that she find this man. She was somewhat disappointed but then thought, ‘Que Sera,’ she believed in chance and besides the idea of the rest room visit, was a good one, as she detested airplane bathrooms.
While pulling her take on luggage, she noted a wheel problem and while looking down, she was promptly bumped into by a tall man. He came briskly from the men’s rest room, knocked her off balance and while she tried to remain upright, she felt herself fall backwards. Thankfully, the man saw what was happening and caught her before she hit the tiled floor.
“So sorry about that, I wasn’t watching where I was going, are you okay,” came the deep baritone voice.
“Well, I’m ever so grateful that you caught me,” said Victoria, flushed now. “You could almost say that I was falling for you!” she giggled, but a part of her knew that she wanted to get to know this handsome stranger.
“I do apologize,” he started, “I’m Timothy Gordon, and I’m ever so glad I bumped into you,” he said with a wink. “I think we have just enough time for a drink. My way of apologizing” He said this with a proper bow and held out his arm to encourage her to join him.
Victoria was thrilled, she couldn’t have predicted his lean physique and his intense grey-blue eyes and bleached blonde hair with the slightest white at the temples. She didn’t anticipate anything other than his alluring voice so she was also surprised to see straight white teeth when he smiled, he was in his late forties or early fifties, but he had a bounce in his step and a quickness that could belong to a thirty year old.
“Hi, I’m the slightly trampled, Victoria Brant,” she said, teasing. “Well, I suppose we can hear the announcements for flights from this bar,” she continued. “One for the road then?”
Within the next thirty minutes Victoria became enamored with not only the voice, but also the man. She sipped her wine slowly, took in all the details that might give her an idea of this man. Casually well dressed in sweater and jeans, trainers for comfort and one of those over the shoulder leather bags. He was quite conservative but witty and he had a gentle tone and conversation flowed easily between them. But there were other things Victoria needed to know.
He was single. Good.
His wife died of cancer two years ago. Bad, but also good, as he had time to grieve.
He worked. Great, gainfully employed is another star on his resume. He had a daughter, hmm, how did she feel about that? Well, she was grown and studying in university, so, good, yes, all good. It was the quickest first date she’d ever been on but when she was in the line up to board her plane, she realized that he hadn’t asked for her information.
Damn that karma shit! I guess I didn’t make a good impression, she thought. She was going over their conversation in her mind. She was witty and charming she thought. Still, this is 2007, so a gal could have, maybe should have, asked for 'his' information, she scolded herself. She sighed to herself and was about to give the attendant her passport when she heard a lovely deep voice say, “Victoria, I almost forgot to give you this,” he was handing her his card, “sorry I’m just so ……”
“Forgetful?” she offered.
“Yes,” he laughed, a full belly laugh, one that Victoria knew she’d never tire of.
Once seated on the plane she looked at the business card complete with email address and she thought that she really did believe in karma after all.
That night she emailed him and he replied immediately and soon they had a ritual in the evenings just before sleep when they would read and respond to emails. This was great but she soon knew that she wanted more.
A series of dates, required either him, to come to Brunei, or her to travel to London, where they could properly get to know each other with weekends or even weeks of time, but it became apparent to them both that despite even this extra time, they wanted still more. This of course was scary since Victoria had a terrible track record when it came to engagements and marriage.
One of Tim’s visits was during the national holiday about six months into their relationship and Victoria had big plans for them to meet up with friends at the local pub. The music, and rich local food was amazing especially topped with a glass of red wine later at Victoria’s home, but about midnight, Victoria was feeling unwell, and the symptoms came on quickly. She rushed to the bathroom just in time for the explosive diarrhea, before the urge to vomit overtook her. She wasn’t sure if it was the food or some gastrointestinal bug but she was still a sweaty mess when Tim came into the bathroom. He was holding damp strands of her hair away from the projectile vomiting only to have some of it land on his hand.
Oh, dear,” said Victoria, “I’m so sorry, I’m afraid I’ve become a bit wretched.”
As she wiped the last bit spit from her lips with the back of her hand, she looked up into Tim’s face. He was so was close, she was sure he got a whiff of the vile smelling emesis. It was at this moment, that Tim asked her to marry him. Victoria didn’t think she heard him right, she knew she looked a mess, with mascara smeared cheeks, her sweaty damp hair, and her limp body trembling.
“Pardon me?” She said, now looking into the toilet bowl, feeling another urge of nausea, “what did you say?”
“I said, Victoria Brant, will you marry me?” Tim was already on bended knee inches away from her face.
She looked at him incredulously then, she laughed and said, “well if you are asking me to marry you when I am definitely at my worst, the answer has to be yes. Yes, you crazed Brit you, I will marry you.”
“In sickness and in health,” he said solemnly, “but no engagement period, definitely, no engagement. I hear they are over rated anyway. Nope, lets set a date, how does next Saturday sound to you?”
“It sounds rather rushed,” said Victoria as she slumped on the bathtub edge. “Perhaps April or maybe May?”
“No, definitely not, I’ll fly home tomorrow and next weekend I’ll return and we’ll get married. We don’t need family or friends next week, we can have separate celebrations in both Melbourne and London, but we are getting married in one week. Deal?”
Victoria smiled and thought, well, who knows maybe my days of being single are finally over. “Deal,” she said with an uneasy feeling in her tummy but a strong feeling of warmth in her heart.
So why the jitters today, thought Victoria, no need to plan an escape, he is the man you’ve been waiting for. You’re are not seventeen, twenty or twenty two, you are thirty eight and this is a good man, a kind man, and he will give you all the love you can handle. She took one look at the floral traditional outfits laid out on the adjacent sofa, his and hers wedding garments all ready for this afternoon and the nervous tension returned. Tim had stayed at her friend, Razeen’s place, as was the custom before weddings in Brunei. She had exactly three hours before she would commit to a life with one man.
Was she ready? Was anyone ever truly ready for that big step, she wondered? In three hours, she could take the local ferry to Sabah, and she could escape into the jungle, get away yet again.
Victoria had spoken to her mother and father about the wedding yesterday, and they were both quite happy for her. She’d also spoken to each of her sisters who were more than delighted, but her father’s words, spoken so many years ago, kept returning to her. “You are special. You don’t need the safety of a man and being tied down. You can have adventure.”
She sat for an hour, trying to decide what to do, when her phone rang. It was Tim.
“Hi sweetheart,” he began, “I know you are likely having some doubts, but I want you to know that I will love you no matter what. If you decide you are not ready, then we can wait. I just didn’t want to become a statistic. Don’t leave me at the alter, please but know that I have enough love and even if I have to wait ten years, it will be worth it for me.”
Victoria, thought about the night he held her vomit smeared hair and how he’d asked her to marry him when she was probably most undesirable.
“Well, Timothy Gordon, I think its time we got into these pretty fantastic looking outfits and get ready for our wedding. Let’s get hitched!”