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Intimate

On the morning of the wedding, I awoke at 3am. I thought that it would have been morning. Somehow I managed to get a little bit of extra sleep. I knew I’d need it. Once I woke up again, I pulled myself out of bed and made breakfast. After eating, I pulled my things together and drove across. I pressed the doorbell fixed to the wall beside the front door of Callista’s house. Footsteps scurried along the hallway and the door opened, to reveal the bride standing there.


“Good morning, Nina.” Callista was beaming, then her smile fell. “I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to Joel Griffiths. That’s awful.”

 

“It is,” I agreed with a sigh, “but today’s your wedding day. It’s a time for celebration and joy. Look, I never met Joel, but from what I’ve heard, he was the absolute life of the party.”


Callista giggled.


“He sounded wonderful,” she responded. “Thank you, Nina. Come in.”

 

Callista stepped to the side and beckoned me in. Once I stepped inside the house, she closed the door behind me.


“I was just about to have breakfast,” Callista revealed. “Would you like a coffee?”


“That would be lovely, thank you, but I can make it.”

 

I prepared a caramel latte with skim milk for Callista, deciding to make one for myself as well.


“Thank you,” she said as I handed hers over.


Taking a sip, it wasn’t bad indeed. I buzzed through the rest of the morning. Topaz, Sasha’s younger sister, arrived to be the photographer. She knew exactly what snaps needed to be taken. Before long, I was wearing my bridesmaid dress and getting into a fancy car to be driven to the church. This year had been filled with weddings, in quite an unexpected way. Callista and Tom’s had been a whirlwind romance, their engagement brief. Now was the time for us to celebrate their love, and their lives. I took a deep breath. We stepped out of the car under grey skies. I spotted my parents’ vehicle, parked across the road. Even though a midweek wedding could prove inconvenient for some, I was so glad that they were able to make it. Callista glided down the aisle. Somehow she’d made the perfect bride. I accepted Callista’s bouquet. She linked hands with her groom.


“We are gathered here today for the wedding of Callista and Tom.”


I glanced towards the stained-glass windows on one side of the church, then sat down. A part of me was grateful to be able to take the weight off my feet. Cameron gave a brief sermon. Callista and Tom had chosen classic wedding passages – 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4. By the time Cameron finished speaking, there was a massive smile on my face. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Weddings had the potential to fill me with joy. I was grateful that Callista and Tom had been brought into my life.

 

“If anybody has any reason why these two people should not be joined in marriage, please speak now or forever hold your peace.”


Thankfully, the awkward moment of silence passed without interruption, and the wedding ceremony continued. By this point, the bride and groom were standing. I knew that Callista and Tom were planning on going away for their honeymoon.


“Callista, I take you as my wife,” Tom declared, “to have and to hold from this day forward. In sickness and in health, I vow to cherish you. I vow to love you.”

 

Tears welled in his eyes. I tried not to imagine Mitchell in the same position. Memories of him haunted me. Mitchell would have loved this wedding and the thought of that brought a smile onto my lips. It soon came time for the bride and groom to exchange rings. Astoria handed over Tom’s to Callista, a gold band about five millimetres thick.

 

“With all that I am and all that I have, I honour you,” she vowed. “May this ring be a symbol of our love for each other, until death do us part.”


Callista giggled, having a little bit of trouble sliding on the ring. Then, it was Tom’s turn. Geoff gave him the wedding ring.

 

“With all that I am and all that I have, I honour you.”


Tom slid a ring onto Callista’s finger. It was a simple gold band which glistened in the light. He wiped tears from his eyes.


“This is my solemn vow and promise.”

 

I could barely believe the love I was witnessing. It brought me a joy I didn’t think I would have been capable of experiencing. During the prayers, I dipped my head and closed my eyes, but occasionally I caught a glimpse of Geoff across the church. As we said amen, I knew that we would get married. I didn’t need to be worried about that.

 

“I now pronounce you to be husband and wife,” Cameron declared. “You may now kiss the bride.”


We all cheered. Callista and Tom kissed for the first time as husband and wife. We threw hydrangea petals over the newlyweds. I collapsed into Geoff’s chest, grateful. After a short afternoon tea, we kicked on at the reception venue. Its ceiling beams were decorated with fairy lights. They matched the sparkles in Callista’s veil. She’d made the right decision, I thought, to go with the veil, rather than just having blooms in her hair. It transformed Callista into a bride. We planned to have more photos taken. The sky outside threatened rain, so we instead decided to make the most of the décor. Hayley and I flanked Callista as bridesmaids while Topaz snapped away. I enjoyed that we were wearing the same dress, but in different colours, and it worked all the more that we were cousins who already knew each other well. Finally, we were introduced to the wedding guests who had gathered. Sitting down, the entrees were served. Even while I was eating, I kept my eyes on Callista, because I wanted to be a good bridesmaid. I then checked my watch, even though there were still hours to go until the cars were due to return. I’d not long finished my entrée when the waiters returned again, to collect our plates. Soon after they were replaced with the next part of the meal. I didn’t recognise all the vegetables in the salad which circled the plate around the main course, but I appreciated their pastel tones. Callista and Tom valued eating healthy food, so of course that would flow through into their wedding catering. I couldn’t help but think about Sarah. I’d presumed she’d been invited to the wedding. I hadn’t seen her yet, but I hoped that she was going alright. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Sarah hadn’t come. Callista and Tom were announced for their first dance. The band played an acoustic version of a Taylor Swift song.

 

We eventually joined the bride and groom on the dancefloor. I ran my hand over Geoff’s back, through his suit jacket. Unsurprisingly, Callista’s high school friends were the most energetic, when they got their chance to boogie. I tried to dance my troubles away. There were enough people in this room feeling loss, but defying it. We screamed Strawberry Kisses at the top of our lungs while we spun around under the lights. Finally, the music stopped, so we returned to our seats. Geoff’s hand draped across my back, touching my exposed skin poking out around the criss-cross straps of my bridesmaid dress. I offered him a smile, then a peck on the lips. The wedding cake was wheeled forward. Of course, the prospect of marriage was on my mind – it would have been impossible not to think about it, given how many weddings I’d attended recently. long with the wedding cake, the bride and groom’s favourite coffees were served – a caramel latte for Callista and a macchiato for Tom. A smile came onto my lips. Following my slice of cake, I retrieved my phone from my clutch. I was about to scroll through Instagram when a familiar face strolled over from another table.


“Oh, Dinah, it’s great to see you again.”


I returned my phone to my bag. I found myself chatting with Dinah. It had been a while since our last conversation.


“You’ve been with Geoff for a while now, haven’t you?”


“Yeah, it’s been almost a year.”


It was longer than that, when taking into account the first stretch of our relationship. I glimpsed Dinah’s hand. She was still wearing her engagement ring. It had been less than a year since that night at uni. So much for our generation devaluing marriage. Callista and Tom seemed to have fallen hard and fast for each other. I couldn’t blame them, because they were both decisive people.

 

“We’re getting married in Ballarat in April.”


“That’s lovely.”


The reception seemed to come to an end far too quickly. I knew the motions which we needed to go through. Callista and Tom whisked themselves away, to embark on their honeymoon. A smile came onto my lips as I thought of all the fun they would be having in just a few hours from now.


“Ready to go?” Geoff checked.


I nodded. Once again, my feet were hurting. Returning home, I breathed out. Geoff and I were ready to sleep. Yet, if I wasn’t so tired, I thought that I might have been ready to make love.


 

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'.


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