Four weddings: (4) Ring-a-rosie

Ray had issues. That’s how Giselle put it. But she’d always been a good Samaritan—rescuing injured animals, brokering schoolyard truces.

It wasn’t just his fragility that attracted her. He had the fragile beauty to go with it. They married amidst assurances of supportiveness and resolve. He’d lay off the booze and see someone about the things booze never cured. Giselle took a couple of months off work to help him out.

Five good years followed. But when William was born things changed. Ray came home later and later. He neglected his new friends and sought others from his past who were no friends at all.

The wheels fell off.

Now Giselle is planning another wedding. Eddy is a plumber. He has the build to show for his labour. His hands around her waist are the best thing she knows.

They are walking down High Street, checking jewellers’ displays. Suddenly she stops outside a dingy pawnshop. ‘That’s my ring.’

‘Great. So let’s get it.’

‘No,’ says Giselle. ‘It’s my ring. I lost it around the time of the divorce.’

‘Lost?’ He’s heard about that time.

‘Don’t ever take anything from me.’

He squeezes her. That’s how he tells her that it’s straight up with him. ‘Do you want it back?’

Giselle shakes her head. She has what she wants.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

Four weddings: (3) The boys

Mike relaxed in the limo’s back seat surveying the carnage. Phil and Max had passed out. Franco was struggling to open a beer. Leroy, shortly to be married, was duct-taped to his seat.

Their driver had abandoned his car and his clients somewhere near the coast. Taking his keys, he’d marched off while they partied.

Mike considered the evening another buck’s night triumph—he remembered the club, the strippers, the stolen rowboat, the police station where they’d dropped off Charlie when he said he’d had enough.

Franco looked at him through glassy, eyes. ‘Where are we?’

‘Dunno.’

Franco paused to process the response. ‘When’s the wedding?’

‘Six.’

Back in town phones were ringing—Jen and her friends in a panic, their husbands, partners and fiancés nowhere to be found. Except Charlie. He’d turned up, blue with cold and red-hot with anger.

By five they’d all somehow be re-united. Charlie and Laura would help with the flowers. Louise would have Phil on his best behaviour. Harriet and Max would take a bit longer—but they’d end up dancing the night away. Franco and Dee would look like film stars. Leroy would greet his wife with a new haircut and a sheepish smile.

And Mike would be alone as usual, cracking jokes with the bar staff.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

Four weddings: (2) Rom-com afternoon

Cheryl was thirty-three, successful and single. Dustin was a dreamer. They caught up weekly to talk about love and shopping. Their friend, Jordy, was about to marry the rich and boring Lillian. ‘If we can’t get a date at a do like that,’ Dustin laughed, ‘we’re not trying.’

‘Speak for yourself,’ said Lillian. ‘I’ll be trying alright.’

Dustin said the best man looked like a bear in a suit. Cheryl said he looked like a catch, and asked around.

‘Brandon Parkes,’ said Mara. ‘He owns three factories. He’s just through an ugly divorce. Says he’s over romance.’

‘He hasn’t met me yet,’ said Cheryl. ‘By the time I’ve finished with him he’ll be ——

Dustin mouthed something and made little chopping motions. A voice at Cheryl’s shoulder said, ‘Hi guys. Can I introduce Brandon.’

Cheryl turned ruby red. Brandon shook her hand. ‘You were saying?’

For the next few hours Dustin saw only distant glimpses of her, trailing behind Brandon who’d taken a fancy to the caterers.

After a beautiful ceremony the best man rose to speak, fell sideways into a floral arch and was carted to the house. The bride’s mother motioned for the band to play.

‘Oh, God,’ mumbled Cheryl. ‘I can sure pick them.’

Dustin rose, offering his hand. ‘You’re too hard on yourself. Care for this dance?’

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

Four weddings: (1) A spanner in the works

The kingdom’s pride having been dented by the turn of history, and its reputation tarnished by scandals it was decided a wedding was in order. The elder prince, having been the cause of the scandals, was passed over. Prince Oliver would be the one. He’d been linked romantically to a pretty enough girl. The palace went into overdrive recreating her as Lady Alice, the nation’s dream princess. In the same way that, in days of old, public spirits had been lifted by war, so they would be lifted now by love, and the problems of the realm would be forgotten for a moment.

Ronald Quinn was the royal mechanic. His task was to ensure the fleet of vehicles that would ferry the guests to the cathedral were in tip-top condition.

By the time the festivities began he was back at home—there were no invitations for workers like him. He settled in front of the television.

As the motorcade snaked round the final corner a puff of smoke issued from the lead vehicle. It spluttered to a halt and burst into flames. Guardsmen converged on the princess’s car. The decorum of the afternoon was shattered.

Erica Quinn squeezed her husband’s arm. They had not forgotten the atrocities of this same royal house on their homeland three hundred years before.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)