The bride’s car appeared at the end of the road. Stevie cast a panicky look towards the chapel. It was still a good distance away. She could make it, if she ran. Picking up the skirts of her beautiful green bridesmaid’s dress, she ran as fast as her high heels would let her.
She arrived, out of breath and red in the face, just before the car pulled to a stop. Louise, who had organised most of the event, glanced at her. Stevie nodded. The local publican has agreed to let them have some wine glasses, provided they came back clean. Glad that the Lancashire sunshine wasn’t too warm, she took her place in by the car and tried to surreptitiously fan herself with her little bouquet. Louise’s children Molly, Henry and Jack arranged themselves around her, all looking angelic in their page boy and bridesmaid outfits. Another little girl, a cousin of Jane’s stood slightly apart, nervous of the other children. Stevie caught her eye and smiled, beckoning the girl closer. The child smiled back, revealing a gap where her front teeth should be, and shuffled in a little closer.
The car door opened and Jane appeared. She leaned forward, helping her mother brush the dress into shape. When Jane straightened up, a small sigh went though the assembled crowd. Stevie could understand why. Her sister-in-law to be was beautiful. Not just pretty, but gorgeous in a ‘she should be a model’ sort of way. And, more importantly, she made Marshall very, very happy. Stevie flashed Jane a grin and gathered up the veil.
The organist started to play the bridal march. Everyone rose to their feet. Marshall was standing at the top of the aisle with his best man. He turned round. Stevie saw the look of utter adoration on his face and felt tears starting to prickle in her eyes. She blinked them back. This was Marshall’s special day. She didn’t want to spoil it by crying.
Stevie followed the bridal couple out of the chapel, throwing confetti and cheering. She watched them get into the car. She leaned down to look in and caught Marshall’s eye.
He grinned at her and mouthed ‘thank you’. She wasn’t sure what he was thanking her for – for helping organise the wedding? For being a bridesmaid? For being a good sister? Unsure what to say, she gave him a slightly wobbly grin back and mouthed ‘good luck’. Meaning with everything. Married life, work, everything.
The car moved away, trailing ribbons and bells and just married paraphernalia behind it. Stevie waved maniacally until it got to the end of the narrow street. As the car turned the corner, she caught one last glimpse of them both, waving back.
And suddenly, that was it. Marshall, who had been the rock of her life, the person who bought her ice cream when her heart was broken, who picked her up from places when she needed a lift, who shouted at her to ‘for heaven’s sake, tidy up, just once’, was gone. No longer hers. She was happy for him, of course she was. But there was a sudden loneliness. A tear escaped from her eye and rolled down to her chin. She turned and ran back into the church. In a few hours, she would dance and be happy for Marsh and Jane. But right now, she needed to find a quiet place to cry.