Chapter Thirty Five: Dearly Beloved…

 Fliss and I arrived at Nat’s flat around 11am.  It was a sultry, humid kind of morning, and whilst Fliss seemed cool enough in her yellow cotton sundress, I was sticky hot in my jeans and t-shirt.  Nat wasn’t ready when we arrived, and she seemed exhausted as she slowly opened the door to us.  She was wearing a pair of grubby jeans and a half shirt, out of which an ample amount of cleavage spilled, and she was barefoot.  Her hair was a tangled mess, and her face seemed strangely naked without make-up.  There was a love bite on her neck.  I raised an eyebrow, and she looked away a little sheepishly as she gestured for us to follow her.

  She shuffled along the hall slowly and with a slight stagger, and I took in the slovenly state of the flat as we joined Flora and Katy in Nat’s bedroom to get ready.  Dirty plates had been left lying around, for days or weeks possibly, clothes and condoms were strewn all over the place, and there were reams and reams of dirty knickers spilling out of every corner.  “Nat” Fliss sighed, her eyes wide in wonder, disgust, and admiration, “You are…”

  “Yeah,” sighed Nat, wearily, “I know.”

  She left us to get ready.

  We each had a silver satin sheath dress to wear, and a posy of white foxgloves to carry, and the effect was mixed at best.  Katy suited silver best; it went well with her dyed black hair and lightly tanned colouring.  Fliss, with her fair hair, pale blue eyes, and fair colouring looked like an ethereal little ghost, whereas Flora and I quickly discovered that silver clashed violently with our hair and colouring.  We gloomily set about the task of applying our make-up to the accompaniment of the trickling water from the shower.

  When Nat returned, she was wearing an ankle length black satin sheath dress with a plunging neckline that displayed almost as much cleavage as the half shirt had.  Her hair hung loose to midway down her back, and she wore black patent kitten heels, had no veil, and was carrying a bouquet of purple foxgloves.

  Katy’s jaw dropped “Black?” She exclaimed in horror.

  Nat sighed in exasperation as she placed her free hand on her hip, “Well, I could hardly wear white now, could I?”  She’d done her best to cover up the love bite on her neck, but you could still see it, if you looked hard.

  “Black is a traditional wedding colour in Spain and Iceland,” quoted Fliss, “I read that in ‘Brides’.”

  A car horn hooted outside, “That’ll be the taxi.”  Said Nat as she picked up her keys and ushered us towards the door.

  “I thought the whole point of a wedding was to have a big flash car with ribbons and everything,” muttered a disgruntled Katy.

  I saw Nat’s shoulder’s tense in anger as she snapped, “Yes, well, I’ve been very busy just lately!”

  “It’ll match our dresses” said Fliss brightly as we climbed inside the black cab; she, at least, was smiling.

  Outside the registry office a heated discussion occurred as we waited to go in as to who would be the chief bridesmaid, “You two are the oldest,” said Nat, gesturing to Flora and me, “It should be one of you two.”

  “I hear if you’re the chief bridesmaid then you have to dance with the best man,” said Katy, with a wicked gleam in her eye.

  “I’ll dance with you Katy,” said Flora, hastily, “Maggie can be chief bridesmaid.”

  “But who will I dance with?” asked Fliss, plaintively.

  The wedding march (‘By The Way’ by Heavenly, which was probably Nat’s choice.) struck up at that point, so all further discussion was curtailed as Nat proceeded down the aisle, followed by me, Flora, Katy, and lastly Fliss.  “Hold it with both hands!” I heard Fliss hiss to Katy, who was carrying her posy, casually, in her left hand and looked as though she was gripping a pint glass.

  I can’t remember all the details of the ceremony, so I’m unsure as to how Nat’s not being given away by anyone was got around, or as to what was said before the vows.  Nat looked very pretty, and Dylan looked very smart in pale grey and white, but I didn’t really notice the best man, whose name was Ed, until I had to walk back up the aisle with him after signing the register: The Built To Spill version of ‘By The Way’ was playing then.

  The reception took place at a nearby hotel, and the room was light and spacious, lit up by the afternoon sun.  There was a steady chatter as we were seated at tables, and I found myself seated next to a woman in her late thirties or early forties called Lalita Cain, who I discovered to be Dylan’s older sister.  Despite her neat appearance, she seemed to share her brother’s energy and vitality and, as such, we got along very well.

  Before Nat and Dylan left, all the eligible women in the room warily lined up as Nat prepared to throw her bouquet.  To my horror, I saw as it took flight that it was heading for me.  I stepped to my left and collided with Katy, who had evidently been miles away, and as we stumbled I saw Fliss jump high in the air and snatch the bouquet before it could fall to the ground.  She cradled it like a child for the remainder of the evening, and was still cradling it when Fergus took me by the hand and led me outside to the car.  As I sat down in the front passenger seat, he kissed me lightly on the cheek before closing the door then he opened the door for Fliss and her bouquet.

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