• Alexandra Claus

At Last

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

A Rom-Com in ~1000 words, inspired by the subject/character prompt: a confession/ member of the wedding

Aida hated weddings. It wasn’t the gushing love or the stress of a perfect day, the awkwardness of the plus one or the cringy speeches. It was that most of the weddings she attended were her own mother’s. Desdemona LaFevre was a romance writer with best selling books filled with everlasting love, while her own love life had a dismal track record. Aida did not know if her mother had truly loved any of the men that had walked into their lives since her father passed when she was ten. She suspected her mother had just been trying to fill in that gaping hole of grief the best way she knew how. For Desdemona, the happy ending meant a wedding. Aida was far more cynical about the whole thing.


And now here she was again, sitting at a pink frilled table with a champagne glass in one hand and her phone in the other, counting down the minutes until this next shenanigan was over. At least she had the inventor of Candy Crush to thank for having something to pass the time. Before she was old enough to have a phone, she would sneak crayons into the bottom of her flower girl basket (a role she had played far past the age of respectability) so that she could draw on the ceremony cards during the reception.


Someone at another table chimed their knife against a glass, and the rest of the crowd followed suit. Aida idly wondered how many of them were repeat guests, although their enthusiasm in celebrating Desdemona’s marriages never seemed to wane. Maybe her mother bribed them all with copies of her latest book.


Aida chimed along with the rest, if a bit belatedly, and at the head table her mother leaned in to kiss her latest husband. Jordan? Joe? It was harder to remember the names when Aida no longer lived at home. Paul, the first stepfather, was the only one she even kept in touch with. He had lasted the longest, three and a half years, and had always done his best to provide some sort of father figure to Aida. He would email to check up on how her life was going, came to her high school and college graduations, even sent a card of congratulations to her mother’s subsequent weddings. He had been a good guy, and Aida missed him but knew even as a thirteen year old that he just did not fit right with her mother. She wondered if anyone else ever would.


The DJ in the corner of the tent started playing Etta James’ At Last and the chiming died down. “Congratulations again to the beautiful couple!” he called, the microphone squealing a bit with feedback. “Now that everyone’s been through the buffet line it’s time to start the good stuff! Could I get Desdemona and Jackson down on the dance floor for their first dance as a married couple?” Cheers went up again. Aida really should remember the names of the men her mother married.


Jackson was leading a giddy Desdemona from the head table to the parquet flooring in the center of the tent. Her wedding dress poofed around her, the skirt studded with little pink crystals that caught every camera flash. Aida swore Desdemona’s gowns - and the rest of the affair - got more elaborate with each wedding, although the color scheme never changed. White and pink, oh so traditional. The DJ cranked up the music as they turned to each other and started swaying across the dance floor. Desdemona laid her head on Jackson’s shoulder and the crowd collectively “awwed.”


Aida rolled her eyes and swiped more matches on Candy Crush. Everything would play out exactly like the end of her mother’s novels, a perfectly lovely wedding.

She lifted her champagne glass to signal one of the passing servers for a refill and that’s how she must have missed his entrance. At Last cut off with a screech and the crowd gasped. Aida whipped her head back in the direction of the dance floor, only to find a most unexpected guest.


Paul.

It looked like he had dressed in a hurry, suit coat still unbuttoned and tie askew. His graying brown hair was a bit wild on the top, like he had run his hands through it and forgot to brush it out. His eyes were fixed on Desdemona. She looked as shocked to see him as Aida felt, her arms going slack around Jackson. Her new husband looked wildly between her and their intruder, completely at a loss over what was happening.


“Paul, what are you doing here?” Desdemona said, face pale. Her voice carried easily over the hushed crowd.


“I couldn’t take it anymore, Dez. I couldn’t watch you marry another one when I’ve never stopped loving you.” Paul’s voice was rough with emotion as he tentatively took a step closer to her. “I know we struggled when we were together, but who doesn’t? And I know you’re afraid. It’s easier to leave than to be left behind, but I promise I won’t ever do that to you. You just have to give me the chance to prove it.”


Champagne and Candy Crush were forgotten. Aida only had eyes for her mother and Paul, heart in her throat as she waited to see what Desdemona would do. She wanted to run up to them and physically smoosh the two of them together, but only her mother could truly take this plunge. Desdemona slowly pulled herself from Jackson’s arms. His mouth moved in protest but no words came out. What could one even say in this situation?


“You didn’t fight for me before, Paul.” Desdemona’s eyes glistened with tears.


“I did all I could to change your mind, but I knew I couldn’t push too hard when grief was the reason you were afraid. I cared too much about you - and Aida - to add to that hurt.” Slowly, as if afraid she would run, Paul placed his hands on Desdemona’s shoulders. “If you want to keep running, Dez, I won’t stop you. But I also won’t stop reminding you how much I love you.”


Tears tumbled freely down Desdemona’s cheeks. Even Aida’s cynical heart melted at those words, never so happy to be wrong. She cheered - genuinely cheered - with everyone else when her mother leaned in and kissed Paul. Jackson edged away from the dance floor and stood beside the DJ, expression still shocked but not all together heartbroken. Perhaps he recognized true love too, for he leaned in to whisper to the DJ and moments later At Last started playing over. Desdemona and Paul swayed to the music, eyes only for each other, and Aida knew this would be the last wedding of her mother’s she would ever have to attend.

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