Republished from Stories My Friends Started, where I take a sentence provided by someone else and turn it into a story.
For Shelley-Anne Wooderson Martin
Now that the body was tucked in the office chair, all she had to do was get the blood off her wedding dress before the ceremony.
“How are my eyes?” she asked her maid of honor, waving long, shellacked red nails frantically. “Have they returned to normal?”
“What?” Lettie was still recovering from the events she’d just witnessed, but she shook her head to clear it and turned her attention to the Bride. “Um, yeah, your pupils are still recovering, but the color–” KNOCK KNOCK. Her head whirled toward the door.
Damn, they were running out of time.
Jenny was hopping up and down, trying to breath normally, and muttering “ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod,” on repeat.
Another knock on the door.
“Who is it?” both women said at once.
“It’s almost time, honey.” The slurred voice of the mother of the bride came through the door.
“Okay, not too much longer.” Lettie looked straight at her friend as she said loudly to the door, “We’re just pulling ourselves together in here. A few last details.”
Lettie looked back over, motioning for Jenny to look her in the eyes. “Honey, stay calm. Remember your mantra. Chant it for me.”
“Come on, honey. Deep breath.” Lettie’s calm, soft voice lifted Jenny from the emotional wreck she was, opening up her mind, clearing her thoughts enough to realize she needed to chant.
Jenny began chanting. Lettie smiled. “That’s right, Jenny, now look right at me, I need to see into your eyes.”
Jenny took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down, then looked her friend right in the eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Jenny was on the verge of tears again. Lettie needed to calm her friend down.
Lettie peered in hard. “It’s okay, they’re normal again.” Jenny noticed Lettie’s shoulders relax for the first time since the incident began.
Jenny relaxed her own shoulders, and took a deep calming breath. “Good. Good. Wow, I promised myself,” her hands touched up her hair, calming herself down putting everything back to normal, “but it’s so hard to deal with all this wedding stress.” The bride flopped down onto the floor. She stared down at the red stain on the front of her dress.
“You remember when I asked you for an extra $2500 for a second cake?”
“Yeah.” Jenny had been surprised about the cake budget – it had seemed really high.
“You remember what happened at prom? What did I do then?”
Yeah. “You got me a spare dress for prom. Bless you.” Best best friend ever. Jenny felt a rush of gratitude, and the anger within subsided even further.
“Yeah well, stay here. I’ll be right back. Don’t let anyone in.” Lettie ran over to the door, and out into the hallway, and then was gone. Jenny quickly ran over and locked the door behind her friend.
Oh no. Jenny felt panic rising in her chest again. Jake was waiting at the end of the aisle, to marry her and her only. What a catastrophe the day has been so far. The florist had messed up the corsages, the ringbearer’s shoes didn’t match the flower girl’s hair bow, her mother was already drunk, and now this. Her dress ruined, all because the wedding planner had pushed her over the edge.
A knock on the door. “Who is it?”
Jenny pulled the door open in a rush, much relieved to see her best friend returned.
Lettie came in, bearing a white dress.”I got you a second dress. Just in case this happened. Not that I blame you, but it needed to be planned for and this one,” Lettie indicated the corpse in the chair, “wasn’t up to it.”
Jenny shrugged and couldn’t help but agree.
She pointed at the dead Miss Sherise, wedding planner extraordinaire, whose career lay dead at the feet of this catastrophe of a wedding. She’d never have worked again, anyway, just based on the flower arrangements, but Lettie hadn’t wanted to say anything. Seriously – baby’s breath and organza, so passe. So cliche. The bridesmaid dresses even had princess sleeves. What was this woman been thinking? Lettie knew better than to voice this now. They had one priority, and one priority only. Calm down the Bride and get her married to the man of her dreams. Sherise had screwed the pooch.
Lettie focused on her friend, “Sweetie, let’s get you changed. Strip out of that dress.”
Jenny started peeling away her layers of dress. “Look, I got some on the corset.”
“Ok, pull it off, give it here.” Lettie reached out for the silky white corset. Jenny struggled out of it and Lettie immediately folded it into the white satiny depths of the skirts of the old dress, threw it down on the floor, and sat down hard on that spot. “My fat ass might as well come in handy here.”
Jenny cracked up, and the tension let out of her stomach. She felt herself really relaxing.
“I’m really getting married, Lettie.”
“Yup. This should soak it up.” She wiggled hard, one more time, then pulled the corset out and handed it to her friend. “At least enough to be wearable without bleeding through.” Jenny’s eyes looked apologetic, and she teared back up as she worked her way back into the corset.
“You’re a lifesaver, Lettie. I couldn’t do this without you.”
“Of course not.” Lettie hugged her friend. Jenny squeezed Lettie’s hand, turned, and pulled the replacement dress up over her head.
Lettie was packing the old dress up into a bag when a new, more urgent knock sounded.
“Excuse me!” the disembodied voice of the bride’s father floated through the door, “They want to get the ceremony started, darling. It’s time. Come on out.”
“It’ll just be a minute, dad!”
“Head on out, Jenny. I’ll be right there.” Lettie smiled at her friend.
Jenny took a deep breath, wiped her eyes from a new set of fresh tears, except happier this time, more composed. Jenny smiled, walked through the door.
Lettie, an old hand at cleaning up after Jenny at this point, quickly rolled the dress in its bag, placed the bag onto the lap of the crumpled, bloody mess that used to be Miss Sherise, famed wedding planner, and rolled the chair into the closet, then dashed out the door. She didn’t have time to resolve it until the reception was over.
As Miss Sherise herself had said, whatever could wait until after the big day, should.