The Wedding ...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man gets married.

Submitted: December 05, 2012

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Submitted: December 05, 2012

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  The frolicsome lion dance troupe skipped in to the room and the atmosphere became electric with their magnificence and splendour. The enthralled audience “ooh”-ed and “ahh”-ed at their antics. Entire extended families were invited today to celebrate the union of two vibrant young individuals in holy matrimony.

  David, the groom, glanced around contentedly. His gaze fell upon his bride, the quintessence of purity and vitality. He assessed her aquiline features: her dancing eyes, with pupils as black as ravens’ wings, her geranium red lips, the colour of blood. He smiled, knowing that after this noisy event, she would finally be his. A distant beeping sound jerked him out of his reverie. It sounded like it was approaching. “That’s strange.” He thought. “We did not call for a- ”

  David awoke with a jolt. Punching the snooze button of his alarm, he looked at the clock. It was six in the morning. He hoisted himself up into a sitting position on his bed. Today was the day. He was getting married to June, his beloved fiancée. After today, relatives would finally stop asking him when he was going to get married. He put on his glasses and stood. The shock from the cold hard linoleum under the soles of his feet jerked him into a more defined state of awareness.

  He went about the day’s preparations in aphonic silence, the serene stillness occasionally punctuated by his mother’s shrill nagging in Hokkien, telling him to hurry up. Wanting to savour every moment of the anticipation, he paid no attention to her mounting impatience.

  After he was finally done with the preparations for the event, David and his mother set out for the temple. As they were about to leave the house, his mother stepped back and studied him. Adjusting his collar, she gazed into his eyes and corners of her lips curled upwards in an odd manner, a mixture of melancholy and pride. He stared back at her, assessing her austere expression, appraising her small eyes, now clouded with cataracts. Years of manual labour as a washerwoman had carved wrinkles of wasted life under her eyes and as she looked at David, tears sprang out and settled on those lines. Today, he would have another woman to be responsible for, other than his aged mother.

When they arrived at the temple, he lingered by the altar. Soon, the guests started trickling in. Wearing big smiles, their glib tongues on the ready, they came up to him to shake his moist, doughy hands. He responded with civil pleasantries, as a gracious host should. Feeling a strange sense of excitement, he allowed his mind to wander, reminiscing about the first time he had set eyes on June.

  Oh, how lovely she was! He remembered when he had first popped the question with the ring he had saved six months to buy. Her response had been shrill and immediate. For the rest of the day, she had been chatty and overtly vivacious, a stark contrast to her usual, reserved, sophisticated self. He grinned at the memory. Of course, his parents approved of her as well. How could they not? She was the epitome of a compliant and subservient Chinese wife. Her warm and bubbly personality could win the hearts of even the harshest and most critical parents.

  An hour had passed. The guests had all arrived and the main event could now take place. David stole a glance at his mother, who was staring into space with a blank look on her face and her lips pursed. After all the usual fanfare, he could finally walk down the aisle to meet his beautiful bride. He was cognizant of the myriad pairs of eyes riveting him. Quivering with exhilaration, he synchronized his every step with the crash of the cymbals.

  ”Crash! Crash! Crash!”

Standing in front of his bride, he raised a trembling hand to lift the veil. Deliberating for a moment, he felt the texture of the filmy fabric underneath his fingertips, and finally lifted it. As he set his gaze upon her anthracite eyes, something clicked his mind and he felt an ephemeral sensation radiating through his body. The eyes were not those of June. Painful memories came flooding back, like the collapsing of a dam, enclosed waters pervading the fissures in the walls, crashing against the delicate confines of his brain, finally bursting forth. Snippets of the incident that had happened a week ago unfurled in his mind; recollections he had been trying so hard to curb. An exuberant June tearing across the road to meet him. A car traveling at full throttle. The smell of burnt rubber.  A loud bang and then a dull thud. “No!” he thought, his fists clenching under silky smooth black gloves as he stood there, under the scrutiny of the attentive audience. “It can’t be! June is right here, alive and breathing, in front of me!” Then more memories flashed through his brain. June’s body had slumped against the kerb, limbs splayed in awkward and impossible angles. A pool of crimson blood forming where her head had hit the burning asphalt. His mother’s voice, full of devastation, whispering, “I’m sorry you had to witness that.” David froze, struggling to winnow delusions from truth. At that precise moment, the truth broke through. He remembered. June had died a week ago from excessive blood loss, and his devastated self had not accepted that she had died, preferring to satisfy himself with empty fallacies and figments of his imagination. The situation felt intensely fatuous to him but he knew the mists of his delusions were congealing into a solid, irrefutable truth; he had become decadent from his phantasms.

  A single tear escaped from the corner of his eye. He had loved her so much. June, his lovely partner. June, the love of his life. June, the warm, jocular, soft-spoken lady his parents have had to replace with a cold, silent, unfeeling substitute.

  He stared into dark, glassy eyes; his wooden bride.

  A wretched feeling of dread spread through his body. He longed to weep, to break to his knees and weep, to curse and scream at the blatant injustice of fate. This was not the marriage he had dreamt of from the time he had first met June. He had dreamt that it would be June who would stand in front of him, in flesh and blood, instead of the effigy that now stood in front of him, with a wooden backbone and arms made of newspaper. He had dreamt that a heart would beat within the entity he would be married with, instead of an ancestral tablet representing the dead June being placed inside the effigy, so that the effigy would be animated with the deceased June. He had dreamt that he would wear typical white gloves instead of the black ones he now wore, due to the fact that he was the groom of a traditional Chinese ghost wedding.

After the standard proceedings, he watched as the fire consumed the effigy, greedy flames licking the wood and paper. He was sure that the emptiness inside him would consume him too.


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