I shyly peek around the corner at my favorite Aunt. She is excitedly chatting with her bridesmaids. There is a shuffle in the air that I hadn’t experienced at my grandparent’s house before. The commotion seemed to be feeding everyone. This place was usually caked in sleepiness. The kind of coziness your heavy eyes find on Sunday afternoon. Tonight, it feels like everyone ate cake for dinner.

My Aunt smiles all the time. I never saw her upset. As I peek around the corner, I’m waiting to see if perhaps her smile fades. If maybe she is tired of smiling. Tired of pretending like I do. But she isn’t. I think to myself how can a person smile this much? 

Then I see him come through the door and I too, smile. Whenever he said “Jill” her face brightened even more. Her boyfriend made me roll with laughter. After all, I was his favorite girl. Once, I refused to smile. I didn’t want anyone to see my front tooth had fallen out. Then he taught me how to spit milk through the gap. A stream of milk went clear across my Grandma’s kitchen. Grandma didn’t mind though, she was glad to see me smiling; gap and all. 

My Aunt calls for me. She doesn’t know I’m eave’s dropping. I don’t know who Eve is and why she is dropping but I know I want to be near the excitement. I’m the flower girl. I try not to think about how my younger sister was asked first.  My Aunt loves my curls and wants my hair in an “updo with cascading curls.” If anyone can make me beautiful, it’s her.  I love when she styles my hair. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning. It will finally be My Big Day! I don’t know exactly what that means. Grown-ups keep asking me, “are you ready for the big day?”

Though when I wake up, my Aunt is gone. Her bridesmaids are gone.  Confused, I think I did something wrong. This is what I imagine lost dogs feel like. My Big Day is ruined. No one is here to put my hair in an updo with cascading curls.  Before we leave for the wedding, someone finally tosses my hair up but I don’t feel pretty like I imagined.

We arrive and I can’t find my Aunt and her bridesmaids. I thought I would be getting ready with them. I’m alone on My Big Day. 

My dress makes me feel better. The material is white lace with puffy Cinderella sleeves. There’s a ring at the bottom of the dress that reminds me of a hula hoop. It’s fun to twirl from side to side. Tiny rosebuds are placed in clusters around my dress. I had never owned a princess dress before. Today really is My Big Day.  

My Aunt wants to take a photo together before the ceremony. She reminds me of a real Disney princess with her long train. I feel special.  (Yes, it’s still in its original frame).

It’s time to walk down the aisle. I practiced for months at home with wildflowers. I was ready. No one warned me how many people would be looking at me.  So I look up at my Aunt’s boyfriend standing upfront. I don’t know what a husband is but I want one someday. He grins at me. This is my day. My favorite person will be walking down the aisle next. I can feel her. She is happy. I wonder if she will be looking at him too. 

I’m standing for a long time. The bridesmaids are surrounding me. I can’t see my Aunt. I’m fidgeting my hands. I’m shaking my legs in alternation. I’m getting bored. The excitement is fading fast like a sugar crash. My heavy eyes begin to feel cozy so I sit down at the alter. Everyone is laughing. I don’t understand why.

I’m walking circles around the big party. The music is loud like my dad likes it but it’s different. No one is angry. Instead, everyone is smiling. I want to smile too. I skip around groups of people I don’t know. Somehow everyone knows everyone.

Someone says, “Crystal!”  Then I see my new Uncle.  I hear “My Girl” playing in the background. He twirls me around like a ballerina and I feel silly. He picks me up and the hula hoop ring on my dress punches him in the gut. He laughs and I laugh.  He gives me a hug and I lay my head on his shoulder. He sways us and I smile.

Music came alive for me that night. 

I felt how a song and a person can make you feel special. I learned that music can be a soundtrack for life. I didn’t know the beauty of music before this. Music formerly acted as a vessel for my Dad’s anger. He blasted music until my ears rang. Even horror flicks have a soundtrack.

When it was my turn to be a bride. The first thing I made was our wedding playlist. It was the string holding our timeline together.  On My Big Day, music floated about like an invisible fog. I smiled as every song selected evoked a memory of our love story. 

This essay was inspired in response to a monthly theme (Music) from Illuminate, a writing community from the Kindred Voice

Read more stories on Work from other Illuminate members.

Across the Lines by Hannah Kewley The Music of Postpartum by Leesha Mony 
Strumming Soul Strings by Christine Carpenter

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