It’s quite normal to be on an afternoon run in the park and see a sobbing bride on a bench. Isn’t it?
No. No, it can’t be.
It took several seconds for my brain to process what I had just seen. I slowed my pace and turned around, jogging in place while I tried to assess the situation.
Yes, that was indeed a sobbing bride sitting on a bench. A bouquet of various shades of pink was resting on the bench next to her. She had kicked off her shoes and her bare feet were peeking out underneath the marshmallow bottom of her ball gown. A long veil was blowing softly in the wind.
I glanced around quickly. The crazy idea that this was possibly some kind of staged photo shoot ran through my head, but she appeared to be completely alone. I remembered that there was a church located adjacent to the northeast corner of the park and I had noticed that the lot was full of cars as I passed it earlier. It must be for her wedding.
Should I try to approach her? Surely this is not the natural state of a bride. She must have run away from her wedding. What could I do? Would she want a stranger asking intrusive questions? Maybe she left for a good reason and I would be rubbing salt in a wound if I attempted to speak with her.
But I simply couldn’t leave her.
I walked over to her slowly, not wanting to frighten her and hoping that she would hear me approaching.
Still a few feet away, I coughed lightly and her head jerked up.
“Can you I help you, ma’am?”
Her cheeks were streaked with mascara and she looked incredibly forlorn.
“I’m…I’m not a “ma’am.” I’m still a “miss.” At least, I will be for another 30 minutes or so. That is, if I go back.”
Trembling hands came up to cover her face.
I didn’t know what to do, so I took a seat on the bench next to her, the flowers catching my eye.
“My grandmother loved tulips. They were her favorite. I remember her telling me how they are so closely associated with the Netherlands, but they are actually from Turkey.”
Oh, fantastic, man. This poor girl has run away from her own wedding and you’re talking about your grandmother.
But she removed her hands from her face and looked at me. She actually smiled.
“Yes, that’s correct. Most people don’t know about that. I chose them because his grandfather emigrated from Turkey and we went on vacation there during the tulip festival in the spring.”
The smiled faded and the tears welled again.
“That’s where he proposed, right next to the Bosphorus Bridge. He said…he said we were like Istanbul, where Europe and Asia meet, that he wanted our lives to be united, to be brought together like the bridge brings the continents together. ”
She had begun to twist the engagement that was still on her finger in absent-minded manner.
“What a sweet sentiment. That’s a lovely description of what happens between two people.”
She nodded and more tears dripped off her face. I didn’t have any tissues with me, so I loosened the hoodie that had been tied around my waist and handed it to her.
“Here,” I said as I offered it to her, “Feel free to make use of this.”
A skeptical look crossed her flushed damp face.
“It’s quite soft. Give it a try,” I urged her, smiling in reassurance.
She took one of the sleeves and began to pat her face dry.
“He always lets me use his sleeves and he never chides me for not carrying any tissues.”
I took my cue from her; if she wanted to talk about him, then I would.
“It sounds like he takes good care of you.”
I was horrified when that seemed to inspire more tears in her and she had to use the other sleeve.
“Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. I don’t mean to upset you further.”
I reached out to pat her shoulder, figuring that we were beyond the point of worrying about social taboos. She didn’t seem to mind and even sighed a little, as if the action was soothing to her.
“No, you aren’t. You’re just making it obvious to me that I’m behaving foolishly.”
The way she was speaking was leading me to believe that she must have run away because she was nervous, not because of something awful that had occurred.
“I’m Tom,” I said, offering her a hand.
“Laura, forgive me if I’m over stepping my bounds here, but do you love him?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“And you believe that he loves you?”
“Oh, yes,” she answered, the voice stronger this time.
“Then what you are doubting?”
Her eyes closed and her hands were gripping the sleeves of my hoodie.
“I…I guess…I guess I’m doubting that he will be happy with me. We’re so different. I’m scared that the things he loves about me, the things that are different from who he is, I’m scared that he will soon be irritated by them instead of being…charmed by them.”
The last phrase had a wistful tinge to it.
“Charmed…is that what he told you?”
She looked at me in surprise.
“Yes, that’s what he says. He says he is charmed by them and that it shows how we complement each other.”
“Hmmhmm…and does his behavior support his words?”
That made her ponder for a moment. Her brows were knit together in concentration.
“Yes, it does. He gets frustrated sometimes when it causes a problem, like when I’m late for important things and it affects other people.”
She seemed rather sheepish about admitting that and looked away, but she continued speaking.
“And even then, he’s very patient and he never responds harshly to me.”
“Do you think that will change if you get married? Has he given you reason to think so?”
Turning her gaze back to me, she took a deep breath that appeared to chase away the last of her tears.
“No,” was the resolute answer.
We smiled at each other, although hers was more like a Cheshire grin.
“Do you do this for a living? You could be a professional Bride Calm Downer. Calmer downer? Well, either way, you’re very good at it.”
Her praise made me blush and I murmured a “thank you.”
We sat in silence for a few moments. She was reaching down to put on her shoes when I noticed a figure in black walking towards us at a rather rapid pace.
“I think perhaps your groom is searching for you.”
One shoe was on a foot, the other was still in her hand when she looked up and saw him.
I’d never seen a woman’s countenance change so quickly. Her whole face lit up and she sprang from the bench, but then she turned to look at me again and the slightest shade of fear crossed her face.
“What if he-“
“If you want the ultimate test of his patience,” I softly interrupted her, “I’d say this is it. I have the feeling that he’ll understand. If he doesn’t, then that’s your sign.”
That seemed to give her some courage and the smile returned when she looked to her groom and saw that he was extending his arms to her.
“This is totally normal for a bride to run away from her wedding, right?” she asked, almost laughing at herself.
“I’m afraid I can’t answer that, I’ve never been a bride,” I answered, reaching around to straighten her veil and handing her the bouquet.
She giggled and leaned forward and gave me a peck on the cheek.
“No, but you’ll make a perfect groom someday.”
I hope so.
“Well, Tom, this is my fairy tale moment coming up here,” she told me with giddy excitement filling her voice, standing up and adjusting her voluminous skirt.
“It was a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for the use of your hoodie. Send me the laundry bill for it. In fact, would you like to come to a wedding this afternoon? It might start a little late. I have some apologizing to do.”
I giggled at her and motioned up and down my body at my running clothes.
“That’s a lovely invitation, but I’m afraid I’m not properly attired.”
She waved a hand as if to indicate that my argument was invalid.
“Hey, I’m the bride. You have to do what I want. You just rescued my wedding. You have to be there. You can sit in the back. The bridesmaids will be all over you when I tell them the story. They won’t leave you alone when the dancing starts. Do you dance?”
“Uh, yes. Yes, I have been known to dance.”
She tugged on my hand.
“Well, put on your dancing shoes and let’s go.”
I pointed to the man who was coming up to us.
“I think perhaps you are the one who needs to put on shoes.”
She raised an eyebrow at me.
“Are you kidding? I’ll let him put the shoe on me. This is my fairy tale moment, remember?”
Me:So, Me and the voices in my head were talking the other day.
Kallie:Like ya do.
Me:And we all agreed.
Kallie:If you ever disagree, that's when there's a serious problem.
Me:Very true. But we decided that if ever Labyrinth were to be remade, if Tom Hiddleston were to be Jareth, we would all be fine with that.
Me:…Um... you okay, Kallie?
Me:Do I need to find a paper bag for you to breath into??
Me:….is that a nose bleed…?
Kallie:*fanning herself* zomg, so yeah, uh...words...
Kallie:*clears throat* I'm with you on this...you and all those voices.
Me:Good! Because, that would seriously be awesome. Before this I was like 'they better never remake Labyrinth' but then I thought of Tom Hiddleston as the Goblin King, wearing all the things that David Bowie wore and..... wait... what the hell just happened to my ovaries...?
Kallie:Because my ovaries needed a full scale assault tonight.