Author's Note: I decided to try a writing prompt from Creative Writing Prompts. I used Random.org to pick which one. My number was 240, and I had to use the words: preacher, coin, stairwell, and comb in a short story or poem, so I bring to you my flash piece for the week. Enjoy!
I Do, or I Don’t
Mother placed the pearl-encrusted comb into my hair. The teeth dug into my scalp, and I held back a grimace.
“There now. Such a beauty.” She patted my cheek. Her voice oozed in a condescending tone.
I knew that tone all too well. I heard it from her friends when we announced my engagement to Sir Walter. At the ripe ol’ age of twenty-two, I was the old maid being wed almost too late. I gritted my teeth and stood as abruptly as one could stand with all the lace and ribbons attached to this dress. My corset pinched and I squirmed within it.
“Stop fidgeting, Daliah.” She thrust the lily bouquet into my hands.
I wrinkled my nose to keep from sneezing. A lady never sneezes, I imagined my mother saying, despite the fact I’ve often heard her nearly blow the house down with some of the achoos to come from her mouth.
“Now, it’s almost time. We shan’t keep Sir Walter and the preacher ready.” With a flick of her wrist, she motioned me out of the room.
I followed her down the corridor. The faint plucking notes of a harp floated through the air. My mother told me they paid a pretty coin for this ceremony. The lilies cloying scent tickled my nose again, and I lowered them to my waist. Each step upon the padded carpet felt heavier, as if children had clasped upon my ankles for the ride. My heart felt like it slammed against the corset bones.
“Mother, can I have a m-moment?” I stopped. Beyond those doors, hundreds of people would wait to see me. Only one of them was of any importance, the one who would be my husband. My husband. I couldn’t breathe.
“Of course, dear, but just a moment. Sir Walter is waiting.” She left me.
I only had a moment.
I dashed down the hallway and took a corner too short. I knocked into a column and a vase fell, breaking into shards. The lilies drifted from my hands, white against the blood red carpeting. My feet flew as if I had Hermes’ winged-shoes. I found the back stairwell. Lifting my dress to my knees, I pounded down the stairs and out the servants’ entrance.
Sunlight blinded me and a warm breeze lifted up the stray strands of hair. With a few shuddering breaths, I felt more composed, more myself. I squinted into the light and spotted the line of carriages.
The scent of horses wrinkled my nose, but they held my freedom. I took the front carriage, the one was supposed to be mine and Sir Walter’s as we journeyed to our honeymoon, and flung myself inside. My dress tilted over my behind, but I didn’t care about the indecency.
“Drive, drive!” I insisted to the coachman.
A whip cracked and the door slammed shut from the force of the carriage racing off.
I climbed into the seat and breathed a sigh of relief. I was free. Then I froze as I noticed gleaming eyes peering at me from the seat across mine.
“Hello, Daliah, my sweet,” Sir Walters said, “Going somewhere?”