General Fiction posted February 20, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Weddings complicate everything


by Rachelle Allen

What Happened? Contest Winner 
"Just pick up the pieces," Muriel whispered as she latched onto her daughter's elbow and steered her toward the bell-shaped door at the back of the cathedral. "That is this family's strong suit."

Furtive, hollow eyes followed them as they skirted past pew after pew, the train of the six-figure gown now looking like blanched seaweed being dragged across velvet sand.

"Do not cry, do not look down, just keep your eyes on that door," Muriel told her daughter without contorting even the tiniest muscle of her Public Smile. Two ushers offered pained expressions as they politely averted their eyes and opened the ten foot tall wooden doors for them.

"The press will be outside, of course," Muriel said. "Give them nothing to hurt you with later on. Benign smile. Even in the limo: benign smile. These moments right now matter very much." She held her daughter's gaze. "Just five more minutes, Delia; you are more than capable of this."
Delia said nothing but set her jaw ever so slightly and gave her mother an almost imperceptible nod.

Like inter-generational Mona Lisa bookends, they faced the throng of photographers whose flashbulbs were like an electrified game of Whack-A-Mole. Eyes calm, carriage dignified, they lowered themselves into the white stretch limo and looked straight ahead as it rocketed down the street.

Once home, Muriel asked, "Do you have the statement for the press?" Delia slid it out from a cubby in the antique roll-top desk and read: Erick is someone I will always cherish and consider a dear friend. We have no animosity toward each other and ask that you respect our privacy at this time.

"Perfect," said Muriel as she poured them each a flute of champagne and pressed the remote. "Shall we watch the fireworks?"

The sounds of pandemonium filled the room as the press corps attempted impromptu interviews with the wedding guests who, in their multi-colored finery, scurried away like confetti-laden ants fleeing a stampede. Lead reporters lobbed questions at the newlyweds on the steps of the majestic house of worship. Erick, looking so handsome in his white tux, stood beaming, arm in arm with Kevin, his erstwhile Best Man.

The cameras panned to Erick's show-dog of a mother whose cheeks no longer rivaled that of her pink silk designer dress or frothy pink fascinator. Rather, they had become the color of damp concrete. Her husband, the senator, who, just last week, spoke to his constituents about the evils of sanctioning same-sex marriages, had aged twenty years in the five minutes since the grooms had said "I do."

Kevin's father, the senator who represented the metaphoric 'other side of the aisle,' was standing in the shadows of the eaves, looking haunted, no doubt, because he was finally hearing the words that his wife had pelted him with just days before: You are so over-involved with your job and your status and your image that you are completely oblivious to every last interpersonal relationship that goes on here within your very own family. I have to take care of everything!

The lead reporter now jabbed a mic in front of Kevin. "Do you have anything to say to your family, Kevin?"

Beaming and wiping away tears, he looked to Erick for help.

"Actually we BOTH do," Erick said. "You are the most wonderful people we've ever known. Your love for Kevin--and me--is amazing and selfless beyond words." Looking directly into the camera, he said, "Delia, you are going to be the best twin sister-in-law I could ever have hoped for. And Muriel, thank you for so graciously accepting -all those months ago- the changes that just had to be made to the original plans for this day. Thank you for making it all possible. We love you."

Writing Prompt
Write a story that starts with: "Just pick up the pieces..."

What Happened?
Contest Winner



No one escapes the challenge of reconstructing their lives after a disaster. Instead, they must work to fit the puzzling shards back together again in a way that somehow allows all involved to function as normally as possible.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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