Venom

Some women claim that their wedding day is the best day of their lives. For years, we dreams of our day of glory, stepping before a crowd of family and friends in a voluptuous white gown. Salty tears of joy will stream down our face, red lipstick faded from the kissing of so many cheeks with stain our mouths, and memories that will never lose their shine will be ours forever. Yes, most women dream of that day.

I dream of anything but.

Yet, here I am. My mother is lacing my corset-esque ivory dress, and my older sister is pulling a brush through my hopeless curls. “Stop it,” I wheeze at my sister, barely able to breathe. “You’re just making it frizzy.”

She throws down the brush and stalks out of the room. Kind of overreacting, if you ask me. I haven’t been all that terrible throughout the previous months.

My mother ties the white satin ribbon in a perfect bow before spinning me around to get a good look. “My Alyssa,” she whispers, pulling my tightly wrapped body in for a hug.

I inhale the scent of her familiar perfume, and pray to God it’s not that last time I recognize that scent. Things can be different, when you’re married. I know Mel doesn’t like my mom, even though she’s as sweet as rock candy.

My sister reenters the room, this time with a mischievous smile on her lips. “I have a surprise for you, Aly,” she informs me, seizing my wrist.

My sweaty palm nearly slides out of her opera gloved grasp, but her grip is too strong. “Jaime, I don’t-“ I begin to protest, but she stops dead.

“C’mon, Lys’. I know you hate surprises, but this is a good one.” Her smile says it all, and panic fills my soul.

“I don’t want to see him, Jaime,” I declare, in a soft and terrified voice. Concern takes over my big sister’s face.

“ Alyssa, come on! I know you’re superstitious and all that s***, but nothing’s going to happen. Seeing Mel before the ceremony isn’t going to ruin your marriage.”

Dear Lord, I have to tell her. Before it’s too late. Before I can’t ever tell her. “Jaime,” I plead, “please listen to me. I have to tell you something. I’ve been wanting to for a long time, but I’ve always been afraid that-“

The door flies open right then. It’s old and wooden, little nails sticking out of the imperfect surface. I have to leap out of the way to save my left eye from its demise.

Mel is standing in the doorway, and he’s staring at me. Not like a soon-to-be husband should, though, with love and lust. His eyes, dark as a dungeon, are full of ice and hatred. He’s heard me. I nearly told Jaime, and he knows. Now I know this is the last time I’ll ever see my family.

“Thanks, Jaime, for bringing her to me,” he tells my sister, who’s still in awe of his unearthly face, even after all these years. “I’ll bring her back before one.”

Jaime giggles like a schoolgirl, and then winks at me affectionately. “Just keep the dress clean, alright?” and is out of sight with a cloud of rose-scented perfume.

Mel grabs my arm roughly, and rockets me into the dusty, abandoned old room. “You were going to tell her,” he accuses me.

“No, no! I wasn’t! I was telling her about my dress and how the laces-“I plead, eyes wide with terror.

The first blow is harder than usual, and sends my body, weak with the many attacks, backwards. I hear a loud rip as my dress shreds up the side, and the soft dust piled in the corner pads my fall.

“I told you not to lie to me, Alyssa. Especially when I heard the truth myself. You were going to tell her. And you thought she could stop me,” he’s kneeling in front of me now, smirking at my deer-in-the-headlights expression. Then his voice is gentle, almost romantic. “But you’re wrong, Aly. She’d go first, then you. Jaime’d be easy to kill; she’s skinnier than you are.” Mel’s laughter is like an axe; merciless and terrifying.

“I’m sorry,” I whimper, my eyes full of tears. Not tears of joy, like they should be.

“D*** right,” my future husband replies, standing up. “Now get up, b****. And quit crying. Don’t want them to think we had so much fun already. They might not pay for our honeymoon anymore.”

He cackles at his own sick humor, and leaves the room without another word. And that’s him, ladies and gentlemen. The love of my life.

I limp back to the room that my mother and sister currently reside in, oblivious and happy for me. They both fret over my smudged makeup, but I make sure to hide the tear up the side of my perfect gown. The petticoats and tulle hide it well.

Then it’s showtime, and I’m still shaking with fear. Usually, I can get over it by now. But the fact that he heard me…my God. He heard me.

It’s the only thing I can think of as I walk the aisle, my hand on my dad’s arm. He beams like he has the most beautiful daughter in the world, who’s being married off to the most perfect man in the world. And I’m sure that’s what it looks like.

And I’m by the alter, my sister beside me and my best friends beside her. Mel is in front of me, and he looks like a god in his contrasting dark suit and platinum locks. I should be happy. So, so happy.
He smiles at me, a smile that holds venom meant for my eyes only. I cannot smile back.





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