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Broken Bride MAG
The red angry marks on my forearms lay rigid and out of place next to my white dress. I grab my elbow-length bridal gloves and let the scars disappear under the fabric. Those are 23 years of scars that nobody needs to see. My whole family is here; they don’t need to be reminded of all the trauma on my wedding day. Wrapped in ribbon and a silver ball chain, my scarlet and white bouquet lies on the table next to me. I glance at the silver chain and my eyes focus on the rectangular tag. A memory of my Dad suddenly flashes through my head.
• • •
Dad was scheduled to come home in a week for the holidays. I hadn’t seen him since my 13th birthday, earlier that year. It was the only birthday I spent with him since I had turned six. The whole house was ready for Dad to come home. Mom neatly stacked all the groceries in the pantry. Everything from spaghetti noodles to A.1. Steak Sauce. Even the grease stain on the gas stove had been vigorously scrubbed.
The doorbell rang, breaking the silence. Mom walked to the front door and opened it. As I approached the door, I heard muffled sobs. A figure of a man stood outside the door with his hat tucked under his arm. His uniform was pressed and streaked with rain. Everything about the man reminded me of my father.
Mom wearily said thank you, then closed the door with a small click. She went directly to her room and didn’t come out all night. After a few hours, I snuck in when she had fallen asleep. Her eyes were puffy, her nose red, and her hands clutched a military dog tag with my dad’s name scratched into it. I fell to my knees as tears ran down my cheeks. Later that night, I felt mom’s warm arms wrap tightly around my waist.
• • •
I yank my slipping gloves up my forearm. After my dad died I was never the same. It broke me, and I still don’t feel whole. He was supposed to be here, waiting and ready to walk me down the aisle. He had always been there for me.
I picture the little white scar on the bottom of my hand near my wrist. Dad had come home that week, and I was playing out in our yard with my neighbor, Ethan. Dad had been inside relaxing while Ethan and I climbed trees. We were trying to see who could reach the top first, racing to the trees base, grabbing at the lowest branches and pulling ourselves up.
As I reached for a particular branch, it suddenly snapped. I fell, scraping branch after branch until I finally hit the ground. Jumping down from the tree, Ethan took my hand and inspected my most prominent cut. Dirt and blood mixed together; the cut was barely two inches, a straight angry red mark running diagonally from the line of my wrist. Ethan brushed off the dirt and wiped away my tears before leading me inside. My dad cleaned and bandaged the wound, and I remember hoping it would leave no mark. After two months, however, the little white scar was still there; Dad was the one who made me feel better about it, saying scars gave a person character.
• • •
That had been the first of many scars, and Dad had been the first person I lost. Tears prick my eyes. The door creaks open and Mom pokes her head in. She comes over, looking at my dress with wide, shining eyes. My eyes glisten in response, and she wipes a silent tear from the corner of my eye.
“You look so beautiful,” she says.“He’s a lucky man.” I give a soft smile and hug her close. I may not have my dad here, but I’ve always had Mom by my side.
• • •
For four years I spent my life devoted to a disrespectful man. He had another woman at the apartment when I came home from work. When I had asked him about it he hadn’t even tried to cover for himself. He accused me of being with someone else for years when he was the one being unfaithful. How did I not see it before? How he scorned me and thought it was funny when it got me mad. How he pushed people away from me until there was no one but him. Always the show off. Thinking it was funny to say sexist and insulting things. Was I blind? Being with him wasn’t bad enough – I was about to give my life and heart to him before this. It’s both a blessing and a blade to the chest.
“Are you okay?” Ethan’s sitting in the driver’s seat taking me away from him.
“Yes,” my voice was cracked and quiet. “Just take me home, please.”
After the fight I didn’t want to stay in the apartment any longer and I didn’t want to drive in my emotional state. It took a few minutes in comfortable silence to finally reach my mom’s house. I’d stay there until I could move my stuff out of my apartment.
I went inside to the dark living room and crashed onto the couch, muffling my sobs in a pillow. I woke up to blinding light cutting through the window. My face felt sunken in and tear-stained from crying all night. A blanket had been placed across my body, the gentle fabric keeping me comfortably warm. Sitting on the coffee table was a steaming cup of hot chocolate topped with three marshmallows and whipped cream. The burning liquid ran down my throat giving a warm feeling throughout my body.
Hearing the clanking of pans on a stove, I got up and headed to the kitchen. There was mom, flipping omelets with her right hand, her left perched atop her hip. I sat on the counter and watched her cook breakfast for the two of us. She gave me a sad smile and put a plate of food in front of me. We ate in silence. Though she always wanted to know what was going on, she gaves me the space to break the silence in my own time. I didn’t realize I was shaking until she put her hand on my shoulder and pulled me in for one of her crushing bear hugs. I held on to her tightly and let all the pain out.
• • •
The blood flows down my hand and drips off my fingertips. It had been a month since everything happened and I still feel the pain. The crushing pain of years building inside of me. One cut for the suffering I went through after losing my father. One cut for the torture of every humiliating memory. One cut for every person who has betrayed me. Dizziness overwhelms my mind. The bathroom walls go hazy and my reflection in the mirror blurs. Gripping the slippery sink, I try to stay on my feet but I can’t hold myself together for long. I slump to the floor lying, unmoving. How could my life come to be this bad?
• • •
I woke in a hospital room. Through my blurred vision I saw my arms, cleaned and bandaged. Squinting through the blinding light, I peer at two figures, a man and a woman, standing by my bedside.
• • •
My mom had found me and gotten me to the hospital before the blood loss became too severe. After that, she and my closest friends had helped me through my crippling depression. Through my hardest time of life, they stood by my side, supporting me unconditionally. I dedicate my healed scars to them, for I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.
• • •
“It’s time, honey,” Mom says gently from the door. “You wouldn’t want to keep Ethan waiting.”
I turn to give myself one final look all over. The white dress is wrinkle free and my hair is perfectly curled and pinned. My eyes focus on the gloves that cover my forearms – so much pain, so many memories lie beneath them. Every memory has led me to this moment. The gloves itch, feeling scratchy on my skin. My hands sweat, leaving small water marks on the gloves. I gently peel the silk gloves off my arms to uncover everything beneath. My eyes narrow. They look less intense since the last time I looked closely at them. The red angry scars I had seen before now look like a powder pink. The jagged marks that had stood out earlier looked smooth to the touch. I never noticed the new white skin around each mark and the older scars hidden completely underneath a thin white layer.
“I’m ready,” I softly say to myself. I grab my bouquet and head for the doors. They are closed, but I can hear the pianist playing soft melodies and the faintest of whispers from the crowd. Mom comes to my side, gently taking my arm just like how Dad would have if he was here. She smiles at me; I smile back. We both look straight ahead as the music changes and the doors are pulled open.