Thursday, October 04, 2012

100TWC - Day 69: Shattered

William marched swiftly along the hall, adjusting his tie. He hated ties, could never get the damned things on straight, but even more so when they were tight around stiff collars. There was nothing for it though. Judy and Punch's -- er, Frederick's -- wedding was a full top hats and morning coats do, so his best bib and tucker was the least that was expected.

The tie's intransigence occupying most of his attention, William nudged their hall table as he passed. It took a few moments for the collision to impinge on his consciousness and by the time he looked back Gillian's precious vase was already teetering at an impossible angle. Rocked by the old table it twisted one way and the other, and was clearly about to abandon its fight with gravity, and topple. William slid to a halt on the polished parquet floor and tried to back track.

Even as he started, he knew it was hopeless, but maybe...? He summoned up all the muscle memory he had remaining of his brief time on the school rugger team and launched himself at the table, arms outstretched to catch the now falling vase. He hit the floor with a breath-sapping thud, his fingers touched the vase, but there was no time left to get a grip before it made contact with the hard, unforgiving floor. The vase gave a hollow crack and split almost perfectly in half in his hands.

"Fuck!" he cried.

Gillian's voice echoed down the hallway from the kitchen. She appeared in the doorway.

"What...? Oh! No! My vase! My mother's vase!"

She ran down the hall, heels clicking and catching the hem of her bridesmaid's dress.

"What have you done?" she cried, tears starting in her eyes and plopping onto her cheeks. She grabbed the two halves of the vase from him. One of them fell into three pieces as she took it. Some sort of delayed reaction, William thought dazedly as the smaller pieces fell to the floor and shattered.

"You clumsy bastard!" Gillian shouted. "I've TOLD you not to run down the hall."
"I wasn't--" he began.
"This is all I had left of her," she sobbed. "It was her favourite! It was MY favourite. You KNEW how much I loved it. Oh God. You stupid, stupid bastard!"

William got up slowly off the floor, dusted down his trousers. He started to defend himself, but thought better of it.

"Why today of all days?" Gillian continued. "I'll look wonderful in the wedding photos won't I? With swollen red eyes and a face like thunder? Judy will be mad as hell if I spoil her day. It's your fault," she yelled, brandishing the largest piece of vase at him. "It's all your fault!"

"I--" he began again.
"You'd better get changed," she said angrily, cutting him off again. "You can't go like that, all dusty and creased. Judy will--"
"Oh for fuck's sake! Fuck Judy," William retorted, his anger and embarrassment vying for supremacy. "She won't even notice me for God's sake. She's your friend, not mine."
"Oh! Oh! Is she? MY friend? And there I was thinking she was OUR friend."

She looked down at the pieces of vase in her hand. At the fragments now littering the floor.

"It's gone," she said, "this is-- it's too bad. I'll never mend it."
"I could--"
"Are you still here? I told you -- go and get changed! We don't have time for this."
"I don't have another suit," William said.
"What? Of course you've got another suit. Wear the blue one. It's not your best but it'll have to do."
"The blue one is at the cleaners. I spilled wine on it at the stag do, remember?"
"God you're a clumsy prick," Gillian put the pieces of vase back on the hall table, rounded on him. "Spilling wine, breaking vases. What are you going to ruin next?"
"This stupid wedding, apparently."
"Yes," she said, eyeing him angrily. "Yes, you probably will. Won't be the first one, will it?"
"Oh, God. Not that again."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Sorry if you're still embarrassed about ruining OUR wedding too."
"I didn't ruin--"
"Forgotten already, have you? Why am I surprised? You never really wanted a proper wedding--"
"That wasn't a proper wedding. It was another one of THESE weddings. The kind you have to impress other people. It wasn't about what we wanted."
"It was what I wanted."
"What you'd been told to want. What you'd been forced into by all the talk from your friends. By Judy. It wasn't what I wanted."
"So you decided to break that too. Like you broke my mother's heart. And now her vase. Now I've got nothing left."

Tears welled up again in Gillian's eyes and she collapsed onto the hall floor, her lavender dress falling in ugly creases and billows around her.

[ this story is continued later in the writing challenge - on Day 71 in "The True You" ]

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