Fiction Friendship

Jane’s blood pressure was on almost bursting point as she relentlessly paced the salon floor,

 “I can’t believe he’s done this to me,” she fumed. “I laid everything neatly on the bed all he had to do was dress himself, pick up my outfit and drag himself here. That’s not too much to ask now is it?” She flashed an enquiring glance at a bemused customer as she dragged her thumbnail across the teeth of the comb.

   “Don’t take it out on that,” chastised Sharon the senior stylist. “Her Ladyship will deduct it from your wages. You’re lucky she’s let you have the afternoon off as it is so calm down, I’m sure he’ll make it on time.” 

  “Margaret would never forgive me if I didn’t show up,” Jane persisted. “ This is her only daughter’s wedding day.”

“Don’t I know it!” Sharon muttered. She was becoming weary of all the tension Jane was creating. “Go and put your face on, I’ll stand lookout while Mrs. Jones is under the dryer,” she ordered. Jane reluctantly agreed although she normally preferred to apply her makeup after she was dressed. Luckily she’d wisely decided to carry her small vanity case on the twenty-minute bus journey across town that morning. 

“Here’s a red car now, I think it’s him,” Sharon shouted through the half-open toilet door. “Yes it is. Thank God, and not before time,” she added under her breath.

Dave had hardly opened the salon door before Jane was whipping the clear plastic suit bag from his arm. Kicking off the flat loafers she squeezed her swollen feet into the navy blue sling back sandals as she made her way into the back room to change into the wedding outfit.

“You’re living dangerously,” Sharon joked, “she’s been pacing the floor for forty minutes. What happened?”

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” Dave sighed looking hot and bothered.

After sufficiently recovering her composure, Jane emerged in a smart navy and white polka dot suit.

“You look lovely,” Dave remarked trying to placate the situation whilst trying to sound as if nothing untoward had happened. He had absolutely no intention of trying to explain to his irate wife the problems he’d encountered finding his way there after encountering a major diversion around the town centre.

“Where are my gloves?” Jane snapped. She wasn’t about to allow the affair to abate that easily.

“What gloves?” inquired her bewildered husband. “You didn’t say anything about any gloves.”

Jane’s hand flew to her forehead, “I put them on the bedside cabinet with the invitations!” The colour drained from Dave’s cheeks. “Please don’t tell me…”

The remainder of the question was unnecessary. To Jane it was blatantly obvious from the distressed look upon his face, that not only had he forgotten the finishing touch to her outfit but also - more importantly - the invitations specifying the name of the church.

Dave scratched his head, “It was called Saint someth…” He stopped mid sentence after realising how foolish the statement he was about to make sounded. Seeking to lessen the dilemma, he continued. “Anyway I’m sure there can only be one church on Dalton Road and I do recall where the reception is.”

“Well...” said Jane remarkably calm all of a sudden, “I hope for your sake that you’re right.” Common sense prevailing, she had come to the conclusion that time was now crucial, it was pointless arguing, and obviously returning for the missing items was completely out of the question. She would have to attend gloveless and invitation-less.

After passing the same children’s park twice Jane decided the most practical move would be to stop and ask for directions, so insisted that Dave stop the car at the next corner where she tried to attract the attention of a passing elderly lady.

“Excuse me,” she called. “Is this Dalton Road?”

The arthritic woman, suddenly aware her assistance was needed, made her way with difficulty over to the open car window.

“Dalton Road, yes my dear it is, are you looking for anywhere in particular?”

“Yes the church.”

“Which church my dear?” the lady replied, “ There’s St. Marks at the top of the hill, then there’s the Presbyterian about two miles further on. They are both on Dalton Road.”

Not daring to look at Jane, Dave shouted across to the woman, “Thank you very much.” He pushed the the stick into gear, dropped the pedal out with a clunk and shot off. “Don’t say a word,” he pleaded “St Mark’s sounds good to me.”

Two minutes later they arrived at the church and were reassured when they spotted the luxurious white Rolls Royce outside. Less anxious now, they hastily made their way up the long straight path through the churchyard where they could hear the congregation in full flow. Glancing at her watch Jane sighed realising they were now fifteen minutes late.

“Good!” exclaimed Dave. “They’re in the middle of a Hymn, we should be able to creep in unnoticed.” With relief they gingerly eased themselves into a pew and proceeded to join in with the congregation.

They enthusiastically entered into the spirit of things, Dave sang out with gusto. Jane looked at him in amazement; she hadn’t realised what a good voice he had. As the hymn concluded and the assembly of people resumed seated positions, Jane rapidly scanned the rows seeking a face she recognised. No one looked even the slightest bit familiar. 

Her gaze shot in the direction of the front pew intently searching for Margaret. By now the betrothed couple had started to take their vows. As the bride turned and her fiancé, with utter disbelief Jane turned to Dave and exclaimed in a hushed voice, “Unless I am mistaken the last time I spoke to Claire she was caucasian . We’re at the wrong wedding!”

The embarrassment on their faces was clearly visible as they attempted to surreptitiously vacate their seats.

The funny side of the situation now became apparent to both of them as they beat a hasty retreat down the church path, much to the amazement of onlookers who were expecting a bride and groom to emerge. The realisation that they had just stood singing at a complete stranger’s wedding was too much for Jane to bear and although trying desperately to conceal the laughter, she could contain it no longer as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

“There’s only one option now,” she declared “ we’ll have to go straight to the reception.” 

Grateful that she was in good humour after all that had happened, Dave opened the car door for her and with an extremely low bow joked, “Your carriage awaits milady.”

“Drive on Parker,” Jane continued the lighthearted banter. “To the Park Hotel. I take it you do know where that is?” She slipped in the cynical remark, but Dave wisely chose to ignore it.

As they approached the Hotel they observed several other guests still arriving. Timing was perfect.

“I don’t know how to explain to Margaret,” Jane moaned “I’m going to blame you.”

“I’ve got broad shoulders,” Dave responded.

Jane began to tense as they were ushered into a very elaborate reception room where they were both offered a glass of Champagne.

“Thank you very much,” Dave nodded to the waiter as he removed a flute from the silver salver and promptly emptied the whole lot down in one go. “I needed that,” he sighed as he reached out and grabbed a second glass from the passing tray – much to the indignation of the man.

“Remember your manners,” Jane reprimanded him. Then she spotted her friend heading in their direction. Prodding Dave she gasped, “Here’s Margaret!” Suddenly she found her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She grabbed Dave’s newly acquired glass of bubbly and quickly swapped it for her own empty glass, taking a huge gulp before Margaret was upon them.

Frantically trying to invent a convincing excuse for missing the ceremony she greeted her friend with a warm hug. She thought it in her best interest to start with a compliment, before the apologies.

“Margaret you look radiant,” she said truthfully as she cleared the lump from her throat.

“So do you,” replied the immaculately dressed woman. Before Jane could say any more Margaret continued, “Didn’t it go beautifully, and what did you think of the soloist, wasn’t she fabulous?”

“Er… Yes it was wonderful,” replied Jane throwing a,  ‘Don’t you dare’ glance at her spouse. Dave wasn’t about to let the cat out of the bag; after all he’d survived unscathed this time.

“Yes it was wonderful,” he agreed with a sly wink at Jane.

 Margaret gave Jane another peck on both cheeks before turning to leave, “I’ve got to mingle now darlings I’m so glad you could make it.”

“Better late than never,” Dave whispered into Jane’s ear, as he received a swift kick to his shin.

Shaking her head with relief she groaned, “I knew we were never going to make it!”

September 04, 2021 21:19

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.