1: The wrong one
“It’s a very important day for your sister. The least you can do is be happy for her. Put up a fake smile if you must. But please, dear, let go of that frown on your face.”
Blood coursed through my veins as I hear the annoying voice of Betty Adams say from right beside me as we entered the chapel. You would think a mother should have her daughter's back more than anything, but I guess when you’re her least favourite child, that’s bound to happen. That is why today being the twenty-first day of March, I am walking my younger sister down the aisle to meet her future husband, whom I thought was the love of my life four weeks ago.
My story is short. I met Owen’s Pierce in my first year at the University studying medicine and thought we had something magical. Turned out there was nothing magical about us and he only used me to get closer to my little sister. I was the fool in my short story and four weeks ago they finally came out and told me the truth. I felt weak and unable to do anything. To make matters worse, they announced their engagement a week later, hinting at their eagerness to get married.
Owens and I dated for three years and not once in those three years did he speak about getting married, but I guess when you meet ‘the right one,’ you know. I was the wrong one all along.
Tatiana, my twenty-year-old sister, with whom I have since developed an estranged relationship since I found out about her affairs with Owens, made me her maid of honour and the chief coordinator for her grand wedding.
The last thing I wanted was to be anywhere near both of them. I needed a lot of distance to get over the heartbreak and the betrayal from both my ex-boyfriend and my sister. I chose to be the mature one, and I wished them well, but I wanted to do it from miles away.
They placed the burden of the maid of honour on my shoulder, despite my best attempt to decline. In Tatiana’s words, doing this would be my way of proving I was really over it. I had to agree to be her maid of honour after my mother stepped in and the wedding preparation started three weeks ago.
My mother saw nothing wrong with the whole situation. She had video-called to give me the news of Tatiana’s new ‘boyfriend’, even though she knew he was my boyfriend for three years and she had seen pictures of us together. The response I got from her when she saw my puffy eyes after the breakup couldn’t surprise me. In her words, at least one of us got to be happy.
No, the Adams did not adopt me, and neither was Betty, my evil stepmother. I was her daughter, and I became her least favourite amongst the other two after my father died. My parents had us three, Lionel, being the oldest, Tatiana, being the youngest, and then there was me. Lionel would have been our mother’s favourite if he wasn’t a drug-addicted junkie. So mother shifted her love to her youngest child, Tatiana, skipping her second.
Meeting Owens three years ago was a breath of fresh air. He was nice and good-looking with his red-brown hair and sky-blue eyes that made me smile every time he stared at me. He treated me much better than everyone in my family, except Lionel. It was easy to fall in love with him when he always said the things I wanted to hear and did the things that made me feel seen and wanted. He was from a very rich and respected family in our town and girls wanted to be with him and boys wanted to be like him. Little did I know he was grooming himself for my sister.
As the famous saying goes, ‘the Adams cannot lose both ways’ and in my case, they didn’t. I lost, but Tatiana got him and today she will become his wife.
I cried the first week of the breakup. I have since found comfort by reminding myself how this was better than marrying someone whose show of love was a charade all along.
Diya, my best friend, had told me to give my family the middle finger for pushing for me to be the maid of honour for my sister at her wedding. To an extent, I wanted to do that, rebel and make sure their day was as disastrous as it should be, but I wasn’t a vengeful person. I had never known myself to be and didn’t want to become that because of them.
Lionel was the only one on my side, but since they did not regard his opinion in the family, there was so much he could do.
In times like these, I wished my father was still here with us. He would have had my back, but sadly, he died seven years ago in a car crash while on the way to my secondary school swimming competition.
The sound of the melodious trumpets signalling the bride’s presence went off, and all those gathered at the chapel rose to their feet.
With a beaming smile on her face, Tatiana made her way towards the altar where Owens Pierce stood in a black tuxedo waiting for her with a charming smile on his face. I looked away from the altar and as my eyes drifted; they met with Lionel, who stood with mixed emotion on his round tan face. His eyes met mine and broke with pity and that made me madder and my grimace grew.
My knuckles turned white with the lack of blood flow because of how tightly I clenched my fist. We finally made it to the altar after what seemed to be forever, and the congregation gathered and took their seats.
“We gathered here to witness the union of these two wonderful people in holy matrimony and also to join the Watson and the Adams.” the priest began.
A scoff left my mouth at his words and Tatiana glared at me, but her glare could not compare to the one Betty cast my way from the left side of the chapel where she sat. I ignored them, and the priest continued like no one had interrupted. He read the bible passage and then read out the vows.
Grinning like an i***t, Owen said I do, and Tatiana did the same with a gleeful face.
“Is there anyone that has a reason these two shouldn’t be joined in holy matrimony?”
The Chapel grew as silent as the grave for a few seconds and I thought back to what Diya had suggested, flashing my mom, sister and Owens the middle finger. It would make this perfect wedding a disaster. It would also make me the villain, the hater of good things and the worse member of the Adams family. At the same time, this would make me so happy and at least Lionel will have my back.
But I couldn’t do that.
No one said a thing, and the union was sealed.
The couple then moved to the reception venue, Beverly Hall, one of the biggest event halls in the town where dancing and singing and food were.
I kept a reasonable distance, watching the new couple laugh and smile lovingly at each other. It made my stomach turn in disgust and I turned my eyes away.
“Do not be a hater of good things,” Betty said her famous line, coming to stand beside me with a glass of red wine in her hand. “Your sister is happy. That’s what’s important.”
Luckily enough, Tatiana’s happiness was Betty’s happiness as well. And today she was dressed to kill in her peach sequence gown and made up to look like the mother of the day.
I didn’t even look at her. At this point, I wasn’t ready to deal with her and I couldn’t stand to look at her.
“What about my happiness?” I said through gritted teeth.
She scoffed, “Do not be ridiculous.” She took a sip of the wine in her hand and took her leave.
I reached for the glass of wine on the tray of the waitress passing by and emptied it into my mouth. I placed the glass back, picked another and walked toward the sound engineers, who positioned themselves on the left side of the hall where everyone could see.
I’ll show Betty what ridiculous looks like.
I got over to the sound corner and requested a mic and though the DJ did as I requested, he gave me a weird look; I didn’t give him any other option but to do what I said. He turned down the music playing, and I began to speak.
“Hello everyone, it’s so nice to see all these beautiful faces.” the eyes of everyone turned to me and though I felt nervous, I continued. “When the priest asked who had a reason, the new couple shouldn’t be joined at the Chapel, I realised I didn’t have a reason, so I kept silent then. I, however, have a few things to say and it has to be heard.”
“Zera!” Tatiana called out, her tone warning me not to do what I had in mind, but last I checked, I was the older one.
I boldly ignored her and turned to the guest staring at me. I saw Betty’s cheeks burning red with rage and I couldn’t have loved it more. “Today my sister became the wife of this guy who one month ago was in my bed telling me how much he loved me. Turned out, he didn’t love me as I thought in the past three years. He was just waiting for my sister to become legal.” A gasp went through the crowd and I mentally patted myself on the back.
I will burn this f*****g ship to the ground!
“A month ago they came out to me about their relationship and three weeks ago they announced their wedding. I would have said too soon, but they’ve known each other for the past three years and that’s long enough. I am not mad at them. How can I be? They are in love. At least, that’s what they told me. My mother gave them her blessing and demanded I be Tatiana’s maid of honour today, despite knowing I dated Owen for the last three years. She asked me to be happy for my sister. I am happy for her, but I thought family was supposed to have your back, not kick you in the teeth while you’re down.”
Betty tried to surge towards me, but Lionel held her back.
“Before you wonder if I was adopted, I am not. Seven years ago, I lost my father and my mother had placed the blame on me ever since then.” My vision blurred as I spoke and my voice choked up a little. “I wished my father was here too because if he was, he would never do this to me.” The tear ran down my face and I quickly wiped it off and blinked the rest back in. I had to finish what I started.
“In the last three weeks, I have wondered what I even saw in Owen. He had the most annoying voice I ever heard, and he snored too loud for my liking. He also chewed with his mouth open and had the most annoying morning breath. All this I overlooked because I believed he was worth it, but now I realise I was so desperate to be seen that I accepted what came my way as the best even though it wasn’t.”
“It was never real,” I turned to Tatiana, who now had a face almost as red as Betty’s, and I couldn’t tell if it was from anger or embarrassment. “You can have him, sis. I didn’t lose anything and I am happy for you.” I handed the mic back to the DJ and took my leave from the now quiet hall. I did not look back until I was out of the event hall.
I dragged a deep breath and my eyes fluttered, feeling alive for the first time in the last seven years.
“What the hell did you think you did in there?!” Betty yelled at me, her eyes blazing and shooting daggers at me.
I turned to face her, having no remorse or apology in my eyes, “What I should have done a long time ago. Enjoy the rest of your life with the only daughter you now have.” I said and walked away from her with my head held high.