Here We Go Again
‘Well, here we go again,’ remarked Alice cattily to her husband, sotto voce. They sat at the back of the church. There were spare seats nearer the front, but they had ignored the usher when he had urged them forward and shook their heads mutely.
They were late and the Bridal Chorus boomed from the organ the moment their behinds touched the pew.
Izzy, Alice’s sister looked lovely, of course, as she glided down the aisle for the fifth time, still in white, although a little thicker around the waste than the first time.
‘Wonder how long this one will last?’ Alice whispered.
‘Give them a chance, why don’t you,’ said Ted.
‘Fifth time! Forgive me for being a tad cynical.’
‘Just let it rest, will you! He’s a nice guy.’
‘So were the others!’ Alice hissed.
The music ended as Izzy turned to face her husband-to-be. People shuffled a little and a child on the groom’s side squealed as her brother pushed her along the slippery pew.
‘I’m her sister and I’ve no idea why she does it,’ muttered Alice. Someone looked round reprovingly and she realised her voice had carried in the now hushed church, but the vicar soon began his upbeat welcome like an over-enthusiastic MC on a cruise ship.
Alice leaned further towards her husband. ‘I mean, this will be five husbands in ten years! They all end in divorce. Why’s she bothering!’
Ted’s mouth tighten into an impatient clench. ‘They weren’t suited, that’s all. It happens. No one’s fault.’ He thought for a moment. ‘She rushes into things, that’s what it is. Needs to take more time.’
‘Hmm, maybe,’ said Alice. ‘She’s known this one for a year, but I still don’t hold out much hope.’
‘Let’s try to be positive, shall we?’ responded Ted.
‘I’m trying, but I resent the money we’ve spent on presents and the general drama of the whole thing.’
‘She doesn’t exactly cry on your shoulder, so there’s not that much drama,’ Ted rebuked her. ‘Maybe if you were more sympathetic she’d open up to you.’
Alice seethed. ‘Listen, Ted, I’ve asked her, cajoled her, pleaded with her to tell me what’s gone wrong each time.’ She gave a self-deprecatory little shrug. ‘I’m nosy apart from anything else, I’d love to find out. She tells me everything else. Always on the phone telling me about what she’s having for dinner, where she’s decided to go on holiday, but nothing about the marriages beyond the mundane. Nothing about the break ups.’
‘Very frustrating for you,’ agreed Ted.
‘Yes, it is!’ snapped Alice, hardly bothering to lower her voice now.
Someone else from the front looked round at them, someone from the bridegroom’s side again.
‘I mean, what would mother have thought!’ continued Alice, her voice only slightly more subdued. ‘I tell you, I’m glad she’s not alive to see how her youngest daughter is behaving. She was always so conventional, she’d be heartbroken.’
After songs and some sharing of mawkish sentiments about the lovely couple, all from the bridegroom’s side, the vicar finally asked the question:
‘If any person present knows of any lawful impediment to this marriage you should declare it now.’
There was a pause. Ted gripped Alice’s hand, not with affection but to indicate restraint. She hadn’t even considered saying anything until he did that. She shook off his hand and stood up.
‘I do!’ Alice called down the aisle. ‘We’ve been through this before, haven’t we, Izzy!’ There was a low muttering and a few gasps, from the groom’s family. ‘What’s it all about, Izzy?’ Alice sounded both furious and desperate. ‘You’re my little sister. Tell me. Why did your other marriages fail?’ There was a sharper gasp at the word ‘marriages’.
‘Because.’ Issy had turned to face her sister at the other end of the church. She looked almost sorry for Alice, and she smiled and shook her head. ‘Because the others weren’t perfect.’
The groom’s family looked extremely uncomfortable now. They obviously had doubts about the groom’s ability to live up to Izzy’s standard of perfect.
‘And how many weddings, how many marriages, how many more receptions and and speeches are are we going to have to go through? This is a mockery! What would mother say? Five marriages!’
Several of the groom’s family rose at this point. ‘Five!’ ‘Five!’ several exclaimed.
The would-be-groom turned to Izzy, crestfallen and incredulous at the same time. ‘You said you’d been married once!’
‘No, darling,’ Izzy said kindly, trying to smooth his concern by stroking his hands which were still clasped in hers. ‘I just said I’d been divorced. I didn’t say how many times.’
After that the congregation left in an untidy rabble of couples and small groups, muttering or shocked into silence, some gathering into a general stampede while others, the older relatives, tried to leave as quickly as they could while grappling with the kneelers that dropped to the floor like failed husbands.
When everyone else had gone, Alice walked slowly up to Izzy standing alone at the alter.
‘Will you ever speak to me again?’ she asked.
Izzy pulled her mouth to one side. ‘Yes, I suppose. Anyway, it might have been for the best.’ She looked up at her sister with an open expression. ‘Last week he left the toilet seat up after he’d been to the loo!’ she confided.
‘No, really?’ replied Alice, humouring her as if Izzy were waving around a large knife.
‘And, he really slurps his soup. You know how some people think they’ve got to suck the soup off the spoon instead of just putting the spoon in their blasted mouths. Can’t bear that!’
Alice took her arm and they made their way to the church door and the bright sunlight streaming through.
‘And, he turns off the tv and, and my computer at the wall at night. I hate that so much. You try turning the tv on and you have to scrabble round the back behind the curtain. My computer went flat. I mean, how annoying is that! And, he’s got one of those sort of wet snores that means he splutters, then I have to wake him up. Hate that. And… and…’