Entering the church, I took a deep breath. I walked down the aisle, then turned around. Delilah was glowing and the room seemed to pause as she glided down on her father’s arm to meet her groom. She kissed Francois on the cheek, then handed her bouquet to Rebekah for safekeeping during the ceremony. Having served in Penelope and Aaron’s ceremony, I felt more confident about the rhythms of the wedding. I knew when to sit down along with the other bridesmaids so that we could rest our feet. The minister spoke about love, commitment, devotion and dedication. I couldn’t help but look at Geoff and relate to his tender words, in regards to the both of us.
It had been a big month. After the service, Geoff approached me and kissed me on the cheek as I reached for a caramel slice from the post-wedding afternoon tea. It had been prepared by the church ladies who were friends with Nahum’s mother. Geoff lingered. I could feel the warmth of his gaze upon me. Before long, the photographer approached.
“I think we’re ready to go,” I confirmed with a smile.
Flanked by Delilah and the other bridesmaids, I walked out to the cars. I couldn’t stop thinking about Joel. We started to travel to the reception venue. The driver seemed to have a lead foot. I gripped the door and took a laboured breath. Thankfully, it seemed like people weren’t particularly interested in colliding with a wedding car. Eventually, we broke free from the suburbs and I was finally able to breathe out. The car pulled up outside the vineyards and I climbed out, walking around the back. Opening the door, I helped Delilah out. She held the lace skirt of her wedding gown in her fingertips. Delilah made the most elegant, sophisticated bride. While the photographer got us organised, I took a moment to be still. Fearless seemed beyond my grasp. We weaved behind the vines for photos on location. I tried to breathe deeply in between snaps. My surroundings were glorious. Eventually, though, golden hour came to an end. I glanced down at my red bridesmaid dress and finally made my way back towards the building. The bride and groom were welcomed into the reception. We followed behind them to sit at the head table, each place marked with a handwritten name tag. I would take mine home as a souvenir. Once entrees were served, Bandile leaned across to check that I was alright.
“Yeah, I’m good, thank you.”
It had been a heavy week for all of us. It was kind of Bandile to check on me. The noisiest table at the wedding reception was filled with Delilah’s uni friends. Naturally the drinks were free-flowing. A part of me wanted to approach them and tell them to quieten down. It wouldn’t have been my place, though. While we were eating the main course, I found myself glancing over to the bride and groom, picturing myself in that position. Even though I was confident that Geoff was the love of my life, it was difficult to imagine. Delilah was older than me, but I wouldn’t be able to hide behind that forever. By the time I pulled myself out of it, it was time for them to cut the cake. The wedding cake was served alongside a dessert station, as well as tea and coffee. Even though the temperatures had dipped, I selected an iced latte, a blondie and my slice of cake. Geoff and I shared from the same plate. Just before we were about to form the receiving line, a waiter passed with a tray of champagne glasses. I accepted one, when it was offered.
“Have you seen Joel lately?” Emilia wanted to know.
“No, I don’t think so.”
Of course it weighed on my mind that Nahum and Aaron’s brothers bore the same names. I was surrounded by love, even though my mind was full of death.
“Oh, there’s Joel,” Emilia spotted, then walked away.
As Maid of Honour and Best Man, I presumed they had secret tasks to complete together. Delilah and Nahum thanked their guests and farewelled them. My feet were sore, even though I hadn’t done that much dancing.
“Shall we leave now?” Geoff requested.
We kissed on our way out of the reception venue. Twenty-four months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to see any of this coming. Geoff and I returned home from the wedding. We collapsed into bed, me in a onesie and Geoff wearing a singlet and boxer shorts. It wasn’t long at all before I fell asleep. Hopefully, my dreams would be sweet.
The younger sister of missing Sydney man Mitchell del Reyan, Nina del Reyan lives on Dharug land in western Sydney. She has recently commenced a teaching degree at Macquarie University. Nina loves her family and friends and is deeply committed to finding answers and justice for the families of missing people.
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey desires to explore themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.