Anna closed her eyes, took a deep breath and counted to three slowly. As she exhaled, Anna tried to remember every gruesome detail from her visits to the orthodontist in the years past. But, the traumatizing memory of the pain she endured there was not coming back to her.
She needed to look grim and she had to look it fast, it was the only appropriate thing to be.
Pushing the cathedral door open, she was welcomed by the turned heads of almost 500 guests, half of which was made up of her family and their closest friends. She noticed that as she made her way down the aisle, the guests were smiling broadly. They were probably under the mistaken belief that the ceremony was finally starting. But, Anna knew that wasn't true, so she avoided locking gaze with those that had the itemized itinerary of the bride's wedding march. But, mostly she avoided the questioning stare of Aidan, the groom.
She had fantasized about this moment countless times and in each one she would be the epitome of grace and poise as she made her way to the altar. So much so that everyone would be neither bewildered nor filled with aghast at the bad luck of the jilted groom. Unfortunately for her, reality was a bitch. Right now, instead of the dewy complexion that her foundation promised, her face was obscenely flushed. It also felt like massive amounts of perspiration were raining down the side of her face. The coral silk of her dress felt coarse on her skin and the straps of her stilettos were digging in into the sides of her small toe, and suddenly she wished that she was not in this predicament.
Anna realized that the walk down the aisle took mere minutes, yet it felt like forever. She was sure that after the initial excitement, the guests detected the gloom that walked in with her. Not only that, Aidan's souring face was a blatant sign that something was wrong. Almost instantly, the crowd in the cathedral was abuzz with chatter, hushed at first before aloud. When she caught sight of her mother, Anna felt faint. She averted her gaze to the floor and quickened her steps so that she could get this done and over with.
"What is going on?" Aidan almost shouted when she finally stood in front of him.
"She's not coming, Dan."
"What do you mean?" he seemed to not understand.
"Did she get sick again? IS SHE OKAY?"
Anna looked at his worried face and her throat constricted. She wished that she did not have to deliver this piece of bad news to her brother.
"Claire bailed…" Anna stated simply.
"She left; she just disappeared with her friends."
As the meaning of her words began to sink in, Aidan's face darkened. For a split second he did not move. Then, he carelessly loosened his bow tie and sprinted out of the cathedral. Shocked by his actions, Claire's aunt and Anna's parents made their way to the altar to see what the commotion was all about.
"Honey, did Claire leave?" her mother began.
"She wouldn't. How could she? Did she really? " Lorraine, who was Claire's aunt, quizzed.
But, before she could give them a definite answer, Anna fell to the ground and fainted.