The favours are little packets of love hearts, wrapped up so tightly in cellophane that it hurts my nails to unpick them. DON’T CRY. FOREVER. I eat a dusty green one and feel the fizz like a wasp sting in my mouth. Both straps of my bridesmaid’s dress slouch slippery.
I shiver next to the father of the bride, his raw skin surprised by a Saturday shave. I fantasise about that production of Macbeth where the witches hide under the table in the banqueting scene then crawl out later clawing, ready for vengeance.
I wonder if you – the impeccable, buttonholed groom – will mention me in your speech. You don’t. My smile is hair-sprayed in place.
I need water.
A memory floats to the top of my glass. Venice. Spring sunshine, the thin colour of prosecco that poured and bubbled through the thin curtains, as I watched you sleep. The muscles in your back like some miracle that I would recognise later in a fresco, in one of the countless chapels we would visit. The way you hung up my dress so carefully afterwards, while I lay in our bed, my linen skin warm and singing with the threads you had sewn through me.
Please be upstanding.
Underneath the tablecloth my stilettos are already abandoned, capsized boats sunk alongside my blistered tongue. Champagne bubbles taste like bleach.
Outside the shuddering marquee blackbirds are puffed up against the wind, completing silhouettes of bare cherry trees. They seem to me accidental curlicues, drawing themselves on the end of branches. They spell out my acrid vow; a defiant and silent I do against a script of raggedy sky. No one knows that this morning, I slipped the laughing photograph of us on the Ponte Ville Tette into the bottom of the bride’s suitcase. I predict a short honeymoon.
Until then, I choose cold sheets, empty evenings, lost afternoons, old records.
Olga is originally from Northern Ireland. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Paper Swans Press and Reflex Fiction. In 2017 she was commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize and won the Forward/Emag creative-critical competition.