Sunday, December 30, 2012


( Note:  This story was for our Writers' Group monthly assignment.  The topic was ‘friendly fire’ which has a military connotation of course but not so in this story.)
Organ music signaled the bride’s arrival to the country church.  Abbie turned to watch the very short, very plump bride walk slowly down the aisle with her father.

Despite her dimensions, the bride had chosen the latest trend in bridal wear, a sleeveless, strapless torso hugging gown.

‘Sleeves would have been preferable for those chubby arms.’ She told Ben.

‘Ssh!’ he hissed then quickly added, ‘Sweetheart.’

Ben had learnt a few unpleasant things about Abbie after working with her for 12 years.  Abbie was brutally frank and, worse, she was incapable of whispering.

He wanted her to accompany him to his cousin’s wedding.

‘Why don’t you take your latest boyfriend, Sam isn’t it?’  Abbie replied.

‘I need a girlfriend.  And you’re a girl and a friend.  I don’t normally attend family dos but Sharon is my favourite cousin.’  He explained.

‘Your family doesn’t know?  How can they not know?’

‘Easy.  I left home at 17 for uni.  Mum died shortly after. I was the only child.  Dad remarried after a while and started a new family.  I rarely go home.  They just think I’m citified.’

‘You know I love you and I owe you big time for helping with that budget project but I have a bad feeling about this.’

‘Please Abbie.  I will pay for everything.  I will pay for your outfit, hairdo, undies.  Hell, I will pay you by the hour.’ Ben begged.

‘Well, okay.” She relented.  “But now we’re even with that budget thing.’

‘Great!” Ben said then paused before adding.  “One small thing.  We’ll have to do some handholding and cheek kissing so we look authentic.’

‘That, my new boyfriend, is going to cost you a very very expensive pair of shoes.’

After the ceremony, the guests milled about in front of the church whilst the photographer snapped the bridal party in various poses.

Ben took the opportunity to introduce his girlfriend to his extended family. 

They did look an odd couple.  Tall thin Abbie was elegantly dressed thanks to Ben.  Ben’s medium height was greatly reduced thanks to Abbie’s five inch heels.  He did wonder if she chose them as a ploy to reduce cheek kissing whilst they were both standing.

The reception was held in the community hall.  Abbie and Ben were seated at a table with the bride’s siblings and their partners.

Abbie dragged Ben to a quiet corner.

‘I love Sharon.  She is the sweetest girl.  No wonder you love her.  But this is getting out of control.’  She warned him.  ‘First Sharon told me how happy she is that you’ve found someone to love.  Then your great aunt May insisted we attend her 80th birthday party in June.’

‘She’s got dementia.  She’s probably already forgotten she met you.’

‘What about those engagement questions? When we are going to make it official?  You’re both getting long in the tooth!  And, when are you going to make her an honest woman?’

‘Just the usual wedding day banter.’

‘Well, your step-mother wants us to come home for Easter.  We have to do something Ben.  If you won’t then I will and it won’t be pretty!’

When the huge servings of roast meat and veg arrived at the table, Abbie gasped.  ‘This is three day’s worth of kilojoules.  No chance of a salad I suppose.’ 

‘Just eat a little, sweetheart.’  Ben encouraged her.

‘I’ve just reached my goal weight.  I can’t spoil it with grease and gravy.’ She insisted.  ‘Do you think I should give Sharon a copy of my diet?  A little late for the wedding photos though.’

Her dinner partners gasped.

‘Maybe my sister prefers to look like a woman and not a praying mantis.’  Bruce, Sharon’s protective older brother, sneered.

‘Excuse me!’  Abbie spat back.  ‘I was merely suggesting that Sharon would be healthier and happier carrying less weight.  It also helps with conception when they want to start a family.’

More gasps.

The mudcake and cream dessert arrived at the table.  Abbie immediately pushed it away. 

‘The mudcake is great Abbie.  You don’t know what you are missing.’  Bruce called out to her.  ‘Here have a taste.’

A spoonful of mud cake flew across the table and landed on Abbie’s bony chest.

‘Ben!  Did you see that!  Do something!’  Abbie insisted.

Ben tried to remove the cake with his napkin. 

Abbie pushed him away, grabbed her dessert, stood up and walked around the table to stand beside Bruce.

‘Well, Bruce.  Because you love it so much, you can have my share.’  She dropped the dessert into Bruce’s lap.

Suddenly Abbie felt a second mudcake assault.  This time it landed on her hip.  She turned to see a sheepish Ben armed with the offending weapon.  ‘Ben!  How could you?’

‘Sorry sweetheart.  It was friendly fire.  I swear I was aiming at Bruce.’ 

Abbie strode back to her seat to confront Ben.  ‘Friendly fire my arse!  I have had enough of you and your hillbilly friends.  I am going back to the motel via the bottle shop.  And don’t you dare follow me!’ 

With her back to the table, she winked at Ben and stomped off.

The guests watched her retreat with sighs of relief and much sympathy for Ben. 

The word ‘engagement’ was not uttered again.

Michelle Keleher 2010 (Copyright)


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