The church was already full, I could see my mum craning her head, smiling and gesturing, I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to tell me until Tinu stepped closer and whispered in my ear, “Caleb is MIA!” my steps faltered and Roger my step dad put his hand around my waist, “you okay dumpling?” he murmured, I nodded and swallowed hard, “this is my future, this is my future” I muttered as I walked slowly towards the alter. My mother’s pastor, Bishop Onovo beamed as he nodded and had his brows mopped by his chubby wife, Ivie. I saw Tony pinch his collar, he was sweating buckets, had his face always been so broad and oily? I wondered as I got closer. Roger handed me to him and I cringed as I placed my hand on his sweaty palm. He smiled but his eyes didn’t meet mine, we quickly turned to the pastor who smiled at both of us and gestured to the choir mistress to round up the hymn, ‘Blessed Assurance’ they sang as wedding March. He then cleared his throat and raised the cordless microphone to his mouth, “beloved!” he bellowed, “we are gathered here to witness the holy matrimony between our deaconess Patricia Attah’s first daughter, and the aviation minister’s son” really? I thought as I rolled my eyes, didn’t we have our own identities other than our parents’ own?
“Marriage is sacred in the eyes of God, which is why we always ask the couple if they are really sure they want to go through with it before we proceed" What? I thought in panic as I felt Tony shuffle beside me, I finally realized why it was called cold feet. I swallowed as the pastor looked at us waiting for us to say something, “no reason” I croaked as my blessed Tinu handed me a small bottle of water to drink from, I don’t know what I would have done without her. We all turned to Tony and he mimicked my swallowing as I generously handed him the bottle of water as well, he drank lustily making loud gulping sound that made the church laugh. Then he handed the empty bottle back to me and turned to the pastor as one of the grooms men mercifully handed him a white handkerchief, “pastor” he said mopping his brow, “can I have a minute with my bride alone” I heard a collective gasp from the church but the pastor nodded and ushered us to the side door that led to his office, immediately the door closed Tony and I stared at each other and suddenly, we were laughing our heads off. When we were done, we sat down side by side and held hands, we didn’t need to say anything, “I really love you Julia” he said quietly, I nodded, unable to reply candidly, “I know” I whispered instead, “but I knew Isokhe back in secondary school, she was my first” I nodded mutely again. It made perfect sense, that my wedding planner and the best man should ruin our wedding, he sighed heavily, “my dad will kill me, he really wanted us to marry, you know he promised to give Roger the flight license as soon as we’re married” I stared at him dumbly, “you didn’t know?” he asked turning to me, “no! when did they broker the deal?” “Before we met at the club, your mother pointed you out to me at the pink gala” he replied quietly, I stared! The pink gala was two months before I met Tony at the club where I was getting plastered for failing my bar exams, “I followed you to the club” he paused and mopped his face again, “your mum said if she introduced us you wouldn’t be interested so I had to make it look like a chance meeting” I shook my head in disbelieve, “and what is your father getting out of this? Why is he being nice to my mother?” Tony got up and stretched, “you have to ask your mother that” he patted my shoulder, “I’m not going back there, are you?” he asked pointing towards the church, I shook my head angrily, no, I’m not either” “you need a ride?” he asked as he fished out his SUV keys, I nodded holding up the long train on my wedding dress, we headed away from the church auditorium and before long we were skirting the car park, his SUV was directly in front of the church, like two naughty children we tip toed to the car and unlocked it, the usher by the entrance caught sight of us and made a sound between a scream and a word, we jumped into the car and Tony gunned it. Just as he zoomed past the open gates I looked back and saw people pouring out of the church, the usher was pointing at the car, then Tony turned and we were gone! Then I felt the soft hand nudging me and my eyes flew open, it was Tinu,
“Wake up sleepy head! Its your wedding day!” she said as I looked around and noticed that I was still in the hotel room, I dreamt it all!
I yawned and scratched my forehead as my racing heart normalised, “I had the weirdest dream, I dreamt that the wedding didn’t hold because I kissed Caleb and Tony saw us…”
“Yes boo!” Tinu interrupted, “I’m sure it’s an interesting dream when your married ex boyfriend Caleb is in it, but we need to shower, Isokhe called ten minutes ago and said the cameramen are here, so get up dreamer!” I got up and frowned, Caleb’s kiss, Tony and Isokhe, all a dream! I sighed as I headed for the bathroom, “You know the weird part? Roger was getting a flight license from Tony’s dad!” Tinu snorted, “Your step-dad Roger? The one who died five years ago? You should lay off margaritas or any kind of cocktail at night!” she gestured with her finger to her head like I was crazy, I smiled wanly and shut the bathroom door.
I put the shower on cold, I needed to be completely awake for the day.
The veil was lifted and I kissed my husband Tony as the whole church cheered, I looked to where my mother was sitting with my younger brother Jude, dabbing her eyes, I knew she would cry, but for the first time in a long time, I knew they were tears of joy, the dark days were over and I was now Mrs. Julia Onosode, wife of Tony Onosode, only son of the aviation minister.