The Weekly News
Laura hated weddings, and so did Zac.
“Ouch! Look where you’re going, you oaf!” Laura clutched her strappy-sandalled foot to stem the pain. “I knew it was a mistake coming to this wedding!” she seethed.
At the end of the pew, the smartly dressed young man turned around. “I’m so sorry! Here, let me.” Bending to take a look, he hit his head on the pew in front. “Ow!” he cried, clasping his forehead. “I don’t get on with weddings either,” he sighed.
“You might enjoy them more if you didn’t crash around like an elephant,” Laura snapped, letting go of her foot, and revealing five bruised toes.
“Sometimes,” the young man moaned, “I hate my size twelve shoes more than I hate weddings. Your sandals were no protection against my great clodhoppers. I’m sorry, but that idiot of an usher wasn’t listening to what I was saying.“ He looked into Laura’s eyes. “It’s entirely my fault. I still should have been looking where I was going and …”
Laura giggled. She could see the funny side now and placed a finger on his lips. “Let me look at your injury.” She peeled his hand away from his forehead, noticing him wince as she did so. “Hmmm, I think that’ll match the colour of my toes soon. Look, there’s room on the end of this pew. Why don’t you sit here? I’m Laura.”
“Zac. Otherwise known and Zac The Wedding-Hater,” he replied. “Are you sure you want to sit next to a disaster like me?” Suddenly, his eyes widened in horror. “Oh! I’m not sitting where your plus-one will be sitting, am I? Only I went to a friend’s wedding three years ago, sat down next to a lovely woman like you, only to have this huge guy, who looked like a bouncer, pick me up off my feet, out of the seat and bellow loudly to the whole congregation that no-one could sit next to his girlfriend. Then he dropped me into the aisle, just as the bride and her father were walking up it!”
Laura laughed. “No, I’ve no plus-one for you to worry about. In fact, sitting next to me could be dangerous for you. At the last wedding I went to, I came out of the church and I tripped down the steps. I lunged for something to grab hold of and caught the bride’s dress, half of which I pulled off and ruined as I continued falling. And that was before the official photos too. The bride and groom haven’t spoken to me since.”
Zac laughed, then winced when his chuckle reached his forehead. “My first wedding, which I detested, was when I was four,“ he remembered. “An older cousin wanted me as a page boy and I was dressed up in a sailor’s outfit. It was awful. Walking up the aisle, behind the bride, carrying her dress, I spotted my mum and ran to her. Except, I forgot to drop the dress and it got caught on the end of a pew. The next thing I knew, my cousin fell backwards onto the floor!”
“That’s not a good introduction to weddings,” Laura sympathised. She rubbed her toes again to wash away the latest pulse of pain. “So why were you arguing with the usher just now?”
“You mean, why wasn’t I looking where I was going when I trod on your toes?”
“The usher asked which side I wanted, bride or groom, and I said I was here for Batman’s wedding.”
“It’s a nickname he’s had since school,” Zac explained. “The usher gave me this puzzled look, so I said I was here for Bex’s groom, but he must have misheard and assumed I was from Bex’s side of the family and directed me here. I should be the other side, though.”
“I don’t think it really matters,” said Laura. “You call her Bex, do you? I’ve always known her as Beccy. Mind you, it’s been a few years since we last met. I used to go to school with Beccy. I think she only invited me because we recently found each other on Facebook. I don’t really know why I’m here when I haven’t seen her since she left to go to Uni, especially as, like you, weddings and I don’t get on.”
Zac tried peering over the heads of the people in front. “There’s a good few here, isn’t there? I can’t see Batman anywhere. He’d better be at the front with his best man.”
Suddenly, the organist played the chords to Here Comes The Bride. The entire congregation rose to their feet and turned to look at the back of the church. In front of the bride and her father were two young girls throwing rose petals onto the floor.
Laura grabbed Zac’s arm to pull him closer and whispered, “I had to do that once when I was eight, at an aunt’s wedding. The only problem was the rose perfume made me sneeze every time I threw a handful of petals onto the floor. The bride’s father, who was behind me, slipped on a petal and knocked himself unconscious when his head hit the floor!”
“We’re not good omens for weddings, are we?” Zac grinned.
At that moment, Laura saw the bride draw level with them in their pew and her heart stopped. “That’s not Beccy!” she hissed. “Batman’s marrying the wrong woman!”
“No, he’s not. That is Bex.”
“But that’s not my Facebook friend! Hang on.” Laura tried to think. “What’s the groom’s name again?”
“No, you idiot! What’s his real name? The vicar’s hardly going to say, ‘Do you, Bex, take Batman to be your lawful wedded husband,’ is he?”
Zac sniggered. “Now that would make it the best wedding I’ve been to, so far.”
“Stop laughing! Tell me the groom’s real name.”
“Oh great!” Laura slumped back into the pew. “Now, you’re going to tell me that this isn’t St Luke’s, aren’t you?”
Zac nodded. “You’re right. This isn’t St Luke’s. This is St Matthew’s. St Luke’s is further down the road.” Laura’s face fell into her hands. “I’m at the wrong blooming church!” she cried.
Zac sat down and took Laura’s hand. “I didn’t think anyone could have a track record with weddings worse than mine,” he smiled. “Look, why don’t you stay, now you’re here? You can be my plus-one, if you like. Who knows? You might actually enjoy this wedding because nobody knows who you are.”
Laura thought for a moment. He had a point. It felt like she was wedding-crashing, but if she was Zac’s plus-one, that wouldn’t be quite so bad, would it? She smiled. “Thank you.” She bent forward and kissed him on the forehead.
“Ow!” he flinched. “Mind the bruise!”
They laughed just as the music stopped and the rest of the congregation sat down. At the front of the church, Laura could see Robin and Beccy standing before the vicar. Then she looked at Zac with his bruised forehead and realised he was still holding her hand. She smiled. Perhaps weddings weren’t so bad, after all.
(C) Simon Whaley