The Wedding, Chapter 1: Shutters and Mirrors

The first chapter in Voices’ sophomore serial, following a bride on the day of her wedding.

Illustrated by Rachel Lee.

A wedding is a time for family, levity and love. But what craziness ensues when an unwanted guest, the groom’s ex to be exact, shows up out of the blue? Find out over the course of four installments in season two of the UTA Voices serial!

Written by four authors and released in weekly installments with custom illustrations throughout the month of November.

I sat crossed-legged in a cushy chair, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I had specifically booked a venue with a boudoir like this— one with big, open windows and white walls, creating the kind of sugar-grain lightbox that would simultaneously make every facial flaw visible to the makeup artist and invisible to the photographer. The sound of camera shutter cut occasionally into the conversation — our cue to raise the corners of our mouths ever-so-slightly — creating the illusion that my bridesmaids and I, in our half-done makeup and satin robes, were in a state of perpetual, spontaneous glee. 

The makeup artist leaned over my shoulder, observing her work at my eye-level. 

“We’ve just got to let your base set for another minute,” She said, brushing a lock of hair away from my face and tucking it behind my ear.

The truth was, I couldn’t not sit tight. Every muscle in my body was locked in place, anticipation gluing each tendon into a tangle. I was sure that the tension would subside by the time I was at the altar, standing across from James, the love of my life. If not then, then certainly by the time we arrived in Hawaii for our honeymoon. The airport had always struck me as a strange place to send newlyweds in the immediate aftermath of their nuptials. No matter how young or in love or freshly married you might be, security lines and terminal changes seemed certain to create tension. 

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Luckily, I was a planner, and James was the type of man who was willing to go along with my plans. Sometimes, relationships are about being the boss of someone who loves you enough to follow you blindly. 

The makeup artist returned.

“Ready for part two?” she asked. I nodded. The camera shuttered. 

“Oh my God, she can’t be serious,” someone said. It was Layla, my maid of honor. 

“Should we say something to her?” said Alice, one of my bridesmaids. 

Their voices dropped. They huddled together, attempting to create privacy.

“What’s going on?” I asked. 

“What? Nothing, honey,” Layla smiled, trying to look nonchalant. The camera shuttered. 

“What are you talking about?” 

Layla and Alice exchanged a look. Layla exhaled and approached, holding up her phone. The makeup artist lowered her brush. 

“Look.” 

On the display was a picture of Diane. Diane Costello. My fiance’s ex-… well, it was hard to say ex-what, exactly, because it was never fully explained to me. She was the girl who had preceded me. That I knew. That there may have been some overlap between our respective relationships with James caused a scandal early in our relationship. Now, whatever they might have had, and whenever they might have had it, was in the distant past, and James and I were getting married. 

I approved her being there. She and James were old college friends. She was one of many of his old posse that was in attendance. I had a group of my own here, too. Of course, I hadn’t dated any of these friends, but if I had, I’m sure that James would’ve been just as understanding. 

“What about her?” 

“I mean, not to set the advancement of women back ten years, but she’s dressed like a harlot.” Alice murmured. 

She was wearing a tiger print dress. That I could not deny. It was a bold choice. Inappropriate for an event that was going to take place in a church. But who was I to judge her? She seemed like a nice enough girl. Surely not the type of girl that would make a move on a groom at his wedding. 

“It’s a little bit ridiculous.” Layla agreed. The camera shuttered. 

“You guys, that’s not fair.” 

“I just think it’s disrespectful,” said Alice.

“I think you guys are being dramatic.”

“Oh, come on, Monica. James isn’t here. You can be honest with yourself,” Layla said, taking her phone back from me. “It’s weird that she’s at this wedding. Clearly, she’s trying to make this about her.”

Adrenaline began to build in my chest. Maybe Layla was right. Maybe Diane was going to make some desperate bid for attention. This was a possibility I hadn’t previously considered. I had thought about the flowers, the caterers, the dress, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the venue, the cake— the icing on the cake! But I had never, not once, thought about Diane. Now, the fate of my night— maybe even my marriage— was in her tiger-print-dress-buying hands. 

I tried desperately to stamp out my anxiety. After all, feeling anything other than perfect tranquility was the enemy of careful planning. 

“Hello? Monica? Are you in there?” Alice poked me. 

“Everything’s going to be just fine.” I forced a smile. The camera shuttered. 

Email Jessica at [email protected]

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