Sister of the Jilted Bride by Jess Moody

My phone buzzes again. Today I am the keeper of bees. Smiling-safe from stings. Plus, the silly hat.

Outside the marquee, sitting down is proving improbable. Heels too high, gown over-structured (at her fixed-smile insistence) to prevent a slouch. The steps to the lawn are a perfect gradient for the fanning of bridal trains, but unaccommodating for a lazing lurker; knee ready for elbow in a Socratic crouch.

There’s a waist-high plinthy thing in the corner of the terrace. I totter over. With a grating thunk I shove its stone pineapple off into the rosebushes. An efficient, edged confetti. I sit in its dark damp space, crunching earwigs into satin.

A stifled shriek somewhere, as someone re-watches the video. Hand gasps. Gossip glee. Fascination fever. The cancelled string quartet play ‘November Rain’ in a sarcastic staccato.

The workless waiters look over. Nudge. Elect an envoy. He brings over champagne. On his face, a sympathy smirk. I ask for his bowtie, and another glass.

My clown-tie on, I swing my legs. Escaped balloons tumble on the lawn. She had it all timed. A net release of pastelled plastic ready for the God-shot: spontaneous joy, hands raised, guests blurring with their relative importance to the days’ festivities.

Make an effort, she’d asked. Just this once.

The wind is up. Table cloths flapping, lanterns warning: plague, shipwreck, disaster. The balloons are everywhere now. Moving from play to chaos, dashing around like over-sugared children on the dancefloor. Ready to run at the fleeing cars, the thwarted guests braking in horror on the gravelled drive.

Frankly, the scene is in danger of getting too metaphorical.

I still have the cake knife in my purse. A weighted edge, frustrated from mis-use. I could go stab a few. Pop pop. But no. I don’t want to validate their poetic posing.

Buzz buzz. My bees again.

I down my drink. A patina of queasy fizz lingers on my canines. I glance at the call-list. Back over the texts.

The exchange from two hours earlier. On the left:

< R U sure U really want this?>

Seconds later, my words. Not on the bride’s side of the aisle.

<I do. I really do >

I throw my empty glass onto the lawn. My phone follows. My bag. I keep the knife.

I slouch in triumph, humming dum dum dee dum.

Jess Moody is a Wulfrunian writer and reviewer based in London, UK. She likes her words and worlds a little weird. Tweets @jessmoodhe.