Delusional

Prompt: Purple

purple

Andrew stayed in his bedroom with the door closed until the last minute.

His mother had called for him at least half an hour ago, maybe to double-check his hair, nails, and suit, and he ignored her. He would emerge, if he did at all, when there was no time left to think.

“I hope you’ll come to love him,” his mother had said. She watched too many television dramas. Her view of the world was simplistic and, frankly, annoying. That’s why she only spoke to her father, Bernard, once, one time, on the phone before dropping Andrew off on his doorstep and leaving him with a complete stranger. They mumbled at one another, and then the old guy showed him his cats, which was weird, then they drove in his cab to the zoo, as if Andrew was a kid, followed by a major freak-out on his grandfather Bernard’s part and a visit to White Spot which was the only decent part of the day. Ok, his grandfather turned out to be not awful and was closer to him now than almost anyone, but his mother had no way of knowing that would happen. People did idiotic things like that on TV, and the plot twisted and turned and everyone had a laugh and it all ended up neatly tied with a bow.

Even Andrew knew that’s not how the world worked. He would not come to love Randy. He didn’t hate him or anything, but Randy was not the sort of person Andrew could love. His mother was delusional. So was Randy, if he thought he could be an effing “father figure”. He’d tried that on, tried to tell Andrew what to do. No way.

Andrew thought about moving out, but he wasn’t finished high school. He could maybe move in with his grandfather, but had a feeling Bernard would tell him to tough it out for his mother’s sake. Sophie said something similar. “Be happy for your mom’s sake,” she’d said. Andrew tried, he really did.

He heard a knock on the bedroom door, softly at first, then more strident.

“Andrew?” His mother. “Bernard will be here in five minutes; are you ready or what?”

There was a full length mirror on the inside of the bedroom door. Andrew took all the old jeans and t-shirts off the hooks and threw them on the bed. This was the moment of truth.

There he stood, in a dark blue, single-breasted suit, with a ever-so-subtly ruffled purple shirt and navy bow tie. The shirt was a fine purple, soft yet striking, the tie was clip-on, and Andrew looked like a perfect fool. He had to wear this outfit, as one of Randy’s groomsmen. Honest to god, his mother, sometimes.

He was hard-pressed to decide which was worse, Randy joining the family, or his having to appear in public in a clown outfit chosen by a delusional mother who watched too much television and thought purple was ok.

Bernard’s old taxi backfired a lot. Andrew heard it and went to the window. It was time to go downstairs.

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Ladies’ Choice

Prompt: Promises


Dear Wednesday,

Are you back already? Today’s daily prompt is “promises” and in lieu of a story may I present some of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is all about the promise:

cartoon-wedding-vows


 

Treat your lady nice!

cartoon-ladies-choice-dance-3


Finally, hello, HWSNBN*:

the-donalds-fast-food


Have a peaceful week!

FP

 


*He Who Shall Not Be Named

For Kimberly

Prompt: Graceful

wedding-cake-topper

Amid a sea of guests in chiffons and florals and discreetly tailored suits, the secret service men, in their black suits, white shirts, and dark ties stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Kelly Bak was not actually upset by this, since how many weddings have guests so important that government security is an issue?

Pat Nixon and Julie, one in a tasteful yellow layered chiffon with a beaded bodice, and the other in a pastel floral sundress, circulated among the guests as if oblivious to the dark buzzards that hovered about them or stood on the perimeter of the garden, their suspicious eyes alert for the most minor of disturbances. Thank heavens, Mrs Bak thought, that Richard was “unable” to attend, because the scandals were enough, and any more buzzards would have upset the balanced, cheerful celebration that she had worked so very hard to make perfect. For her daughter, of course, only for Kimberly.

She’d caused a fright, to be sure, being over half an hour late to the church. But in the end she floated down the aisle, arm in arm with her father, in her deep blue silk dress like an angel from heaven, to gasps and sighs from everyone in attendance. Even Harrison, stood tall and broad-shouldered at the end of the aisle, lost his assured grin for a few seconds, as the bride lifted her head and looked into his eyes. He faltered, Mrs Bak thought, from awe and pride. And so he should. There was never a more beautiful, striking, and graceful bride than Kimberly. Mrs Bak could tell, just looking at all the faces. The ceremony would be talked about. And the reception would be perfect too.

George’s brother-in-law had too much champagne and fell to his knees on the dance floor, causing two secret servicemen to pounce on him, which made things worse as he loudly protested. But there was always one drunken uncle at a wedding reception, Mrs Bak thought. The little glitches helped to illuminate the perfection of every other element. Like the flowers! Cascading lilac flown in from Washington state, the white roses planted around the marquee, in fragrant, full bloom. And the photographers’ flash bulbs flared for the duration of the reception, giving the festivities an air of celebrity.

“Darling,” Mrs Bak said to her daughter, as soon as they had a moment alone, in the downstairs powder room, their glasses of non-alcoholic punch set on the tile counter. “Why ever were you so late to the ceremony? I’m sure Harrison was distraught.”

“We exchanged gifts last night,” said Kimberly.

“Oh! and how did he like his watch?”

“Loved it, he said.”

“Darling, what did he get for you?” Mrs Bak pushed Kimberly’s chestnut hair away from her neck. No necklace there, except the one Mrs Bak had lent to her, the diamond encrusted butterfly on a silver chain.

“He gave me a person,” said Kimberly. She took a sip of her drink, and winced. “I am going to start on the red wine.”

“Not just yet. What do you mean, ‘a person’?”

“A person! ‘Here is Madison, she is yours’.” Kimberly threw the punch glass into the wastebasket, which was full of lipstick-stained kleenex. “Mama, he gave me a servant, a girl, trained to wait on me or something. He ‘picked her out’ himself; he didn’t just call an agency, as if that makes it all right.”

“It is fine to have a personal maid, Kimmy, I think it was thoughtful of Harrison.”

“It was creepy and horrible,” said Kimberly.

“Now you sound like a child,” said her mother. “You are a grown, married woman now, with responsibilities and a reputation to uphold.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” said Kimberly.

“Where is she?”

“Upstairs in my room, presumably, waiting to attend to whatever whim catches my fancy.”

“I’ll go have a chat with her. Meanwhile, keep in mind Harrison was just trying to be kind, or something like that. Thoughtful, too. He loves you. Go out and dance some more with him. Did you say hello to Julie?”

So Kimberly took her blue-silked body back out into the garden, found her new husband, put her hand on his wrist and whispered in his ear. They strolled to the wooden parquet dance floor, and danced a waltz while the cameras flashed.

Perfect

Prompt: Surface

blue wedding dress

Kelly Bak stood at the top of the seven steps to the wide, carved oak doors of the church. It was a perfect day: clear skies, low humidity, and a cleansing breeze to chase away the dust and the pockets of settled heat.

There was a long, covered walkway with morning glory twining up the posts, tracing the path the bride would take from the driveway where the limousine would stop, across a sidewalk, and up the church steps to the doors. The shelter was erected in case of a rain storm, which would not happen now, but the brilliant white of the canvas and the deep blue of the blooms were a perfect setting to welcome a perfect bride.

She was a little late, but that was the bride’s prerogative, and the only issue when Mrs Bak left the house was the makeup— Kimberley felt she looked like a raccoon with a rash. The makeup artist explained that this was for the benefit of the photographs, but Kimberley would have none of it. And was infuriated when the makeup artist turned to her mother for the last word. But Mrs Bak succumbed to Kimberley’s wishes, and the eye liner, shadow, mascara, and blush were duly reapplied. She was perfect.

Mrs Bak had chatted very briefly with her future son-in-law, Harrison, when Kimberley was ten minutes late. She assured him all was well. He wore a perfectly tailored navy suit with a white rose boutonnière. He had the luminous, well-groomed look of a young man entering the most powerful phase of his life; indeed, as Kimberley had told her mother that morning, Harrison was seriously considering a run for congressman. The future looked bright… and, well, perfect.

Though the bride, thought Mrs Bak, could be a little more punctual, to be honest.

Unstoppable

Prompt: Unstoppable

megality

Kimberly Bak was having second thoughts. It’s normal to have second thoughts, her mother told her when she tried to broach the subject on the weekend. The wedding megalith had started its unstoppable journey towards the union of Kimberly Nuance Bak and Harrison Albert Pepper.

The secret service had been to the house and searched the grounds, and even installed a few security cameras, because the wife of a President of the United States was attending, along with her daughter and son-in-law. You could hardly have the feds poking around your home and asking questions of your staff, and then call the whole thing off.

The marquees, and wooden dance floor, and bunting and garlands were all set up on the back lawn. Invitations had been send and responded to. Gifts were set up on display in the downstairs guest room. Kimberley’s wedding dress had been altered, received, gently pressed and hung in her closet. The caterers had left crates of plates, utensils and decorations in the kitchen foyer. The band and the photographers had sent confirmation messages. Harrison Pepper had sponsored Kimberly’s father’s membership application to the golf club.

She had hinted to her mother that she wanted to tell Harrison about the baby.

“There is no— was no— baby,” said Kelly Bak.

“I don’t regret it,” Kimberly said slowly. “But I feel bad about it.”

“You are a sweet child,” said her mother. “And were a child when you got pregnant.” She pushed Kimberley’s chestnut hair off her face. “There is no need to mention it to Harrison. I’m sure he has a few skeletons in his closet.”

“I don’t want to know,” said Kimberly.

“And I’m sure he feels the same way.”

But Kimberly wanted to tell him anyway. If he was offended or horrified, and called off the wedding, well, she would feel relieved. She was pretty sure she would feel relieved. What she liked most about Harrison was the sex, followed by his sense of humour and his ease with people, his skill at anything he put his hand to, and his respect for her parents.

She just wasn’t sure that she loved him.

Happy Time

Prompt: Blank

paper-doll

Kimberly watched her mother fill in the cheque. It looked as natural to her as her breathing. She eyed the paper fondly, as if it were an old friend. The pen, lightly clasped in her hand, seemed to guide her, rather than the other way around. It was gold in colour, part of a set. Her mother had several desk sets, corporate gifts to her husband, that Donna swapped out regularly.

She must have developed special muscles to sign cheques with such a flourish, the flourish of an artist, a dancer. Instead of being an artist or a dancer, she was a woman who excelled in writing cheques.

There was a tiny smile on her mother’s face. It was her resting face. Unlike Kimberly, who had a “resting bitch face”– an intimidating scowl– no matter what her mood. Perhaps her mother had willed her face that way, or perhaps Dr Stanford had done it. A tiny, tiny smile, that suddenly, to Kimberly, made no sense. It was enraging. She clenched her hands into a fist, digging her nails into her palms.

A memory parachuted into her mind: she was in a small inflatable wading pool  with another little girl, playing. Their mothers sat in lawn chairs nearby. When the little girl and her mother were gone, she and her mother were alone in the kitchen, and there was a puddle on the white tile floor, and Kimberly was shivering in her wet bathing suit, desperate for her mother’s warmth, and her mother shouted at her. Kimberly couldn’t remember what she said. She only remembered feeling cold and lost. She shivered now.

“There,” said Mrs Bak, triumphantly tearing the cheque out of the book with another flourish, and offering it to Jo, who stood in front of her desk like a supplicant.

Jo took the cheque and, pretending not to read it, folded it and put it into the zippered compartment of her leather bag.

“The balance on successful completion, now,” said Mrs Bak.

“Of course,” said Jo.

“I want this wedding to be subtle,” Mrs Bak said.

Kimberly laughed.

Her mother frowned at her and continued. “Subtle as opposed to ostentatious. The best of everything, but not twee or frilly or overpowering. Do you understand?”

Kimberly said, “I think Jo gets that you want the world to admire and envy you, without your seeming to care if they do or not.”

“Jo?” said Mrs Bak, ignoring Kimberly, the tiny smile back.

“I understand completely,” said Jo.

“Kimmy, what time is the fitting? We should probably be off.” She rose to her feet, smoothing her skirt. “Don’t look so glum! This is a happy time, despite your cynicism.”

“I’m deliriously happy,” said Kimberly. “This is just my resting bitch face.”

The Wedding Planner

Prompt: Flourish

Dinosaur-Photobombing-Wedding-Photography-InspirationsWeb.com-02

“Don’t be concerned about expense,” Kimberly told me. “My parents can afford it.”

This, after my conscientious warnings about the cost of flying in masses of fresh, off-season lilacs for table decorations. I wasn’t sure whether she held a conscious grudge against her parents, was simply trying to be helpful, or was, like her mother, not about to be told what to do.

Kimberly’s smile was sweet but frozen, like a cherry popsicle. I nodded my head in acquiescence and wrote another long note.

“Mostly both dark and pale purple lilacs,” Kimberly was saying. “But a few white lilac, too.”

“Your mother would like dark blue silk bows on all the dining chairs,” I said. “Is that correct?”

“Oh, whatever, you can leave the rest to her,” Kimberly told me dismissively, with a wave of her hand. “My dress is blue silk, so I suppose she wants a theme. Just bring in lots of lilacs.”

Again, in my role of wedding professional, I warned her: “Lilacs can be very, very fragrant. The scent might be overpowering, just so you know.”

“We’ll be outside,” Kimberly said. “It will be fine. Here she comes now.”

I turned to see Mrs Bak and a man, though not Mr Bak, whom I’d briefly met, striding across the manicured lawn from the house to where we stood.

“Just there,” called out Mrs Bak. “The dance floor. Where you are standing. A marquee overhead, with chandeliers. Soft lighting, not harsh. I’m too old for harsh lighting.” She turned to her male companion and giggled.

He was tall and broad shouldered– broad everything, like a formidable rugby player– and when he grinned he showed rows of perfectly adjusted and whitened teeth. And dimples, I noticed. Very charming.

“You are more likely to be mistaken for the bride,” he said to Mrs Bak, and he winked at Kimberly.

Mrs Bak laughed, Kimberly smiled, and said, “Have you met Harrison, Jo?”

“No,” I said, and we shook hands and muttered something about our mutual thrill at making such an acquaintance. It was nice to finally meet the groom, though to be honest, I thought they made an odd couple.

Kimberly seemed so young, and though it sounds contradictory, she had both a vulnerable and a steely air about her; though perhaps the latter quality was protection for the former.

Harrison presented a fully formed, somewhat conventional persona in a young and vibrant package. Despite Kimberly’s brittle shell, I found it easy to read her, but Harrison’s face was perpetually open and friendly, effectively hiding that he might be neither.

I suppose they complemented each other. He moved to stand beside her, taking her hand. They were handsome together, no question. He whispered something in Kimberly’s ear, she blushed, and then said they had a lunch date. They strolled back across the lawn to the house, still holding hands.

Mrs Bak promptly took the clipboard out of my hand, read the notes on the first page, and flipped to the second.

“All those lilacs. Really?” said Mrs Bak. “That will be ridiculously expensive.”

Here was that too common quandary for a wedding planner: do I side with the bride or the people who are paying the bill? It was not as easy a path as you might think. But I was a seasoned traveller.

“Kimberly is actually ahead of trend,” I ventured. “Spring flowers will soon be used at all the important weddings.”

“The smell alone will make me faint,” said Mrs Bak, who did not seem the fainting sort. “Have smelling salts and oxygen on hand.” She laughed. “Oh, and the gardeners will be planting white roses on the perimeter: here, and here, and here. I think some semblance of tradition is required at a wedding. Kimmy and all her blues. Some sense of purity should be present, don’t you agree?”

I did not. Still, I saw the Baks really would pay anything, as Kimberly had suggested. “Kimberly loved your idea of blue silk sashes on the dining chairs,” I lied. “Perhaps we could carry the theme to the servers? I know you planned on using your in-house staff, but my team is very experienced and well-trained for weddings; and perhaps we could dress them in black and white with blue silk-fronted vests?”

It would be a nice gig for my son and two daughters, not to mention my regular employees, Tommy, Jim, Dicky and Maureen, and Betsy. Mrs Calabash down the hall could sew the vests. She was not famous but utterly competent. There were not insignificant profits to be made. Why shouldn’t we all flourish in the wake of an extravagant society wedding?

“They would all have to be vetted,” Mrs Bak said. “We have some rather important people attending, and in the wedding party.”

“Of course,” I said, wondering if my older daughter’s drug use would some how be in a public or private record.

“Let me show you where I want the dining marquee,” said Mrs Bak, taking my arm and leading me across the lawn. “A little closer to the kitchens, don’t you think? And we can discuss the kind of crab we want on the menu, yes?”

Meanwhile, in the house, Kimberly and Harrison were furiously fornicating in the Bak marital bedroom.