It could have gone better. She could actually have turned up, for one thing. The band played on their makeshift platform and the guests chatted on the rented chairs, and murmurs rose to grace the ivy-wrapped rafters.
Finally, Luc had to ask, “Where’s Molly, then?”
He joked about it, grinned even, but we both knew it wasn’t funny. Bloody Molly. Poor Jase just stood there, a vacant look glazing across his eyes, almost fainting from the evening humidity and the hour’s wait, drenched in his rented tux. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought she did it on purpose. It would be just like Molly to desert her own wedding, to leave the altar as abandoned as it had been when she found the place.
She never even gave a reason.
Sorry came through in a single text, another hour later. She refused all our calls, took off. Probably for the best that she didn’t stay. Not sure Jase would be able to take it if she came in to work at the store with him next week. Not sure we wouldn’t have laid into her, either, Luc and I. A few choice words went through my head, that’s for sure. They’re still tumbling now.
I sigh as I gaze at the already-wilting flowers. Fragrant in the cramped church yesterday, their smell has turned to nauseating, cloying decay this morning. It’s poetic, really. Molly and Jase both wanted the church thing, but I guess it was too much ‘holy’ for her in the end. Now all that’s left is dying—her meticulously designed decoupages, her meticulously controlled relationship, her perfectly pruned life. She cracked, and Jase got the short straw.
I’m on cleanup duty only ’cause Luc’s working, and I don’t think anyone else can bear the thought. The caretaker let me in early, tutting like the old man he is—“This is why we don’t rent out, look at this mess, last time we let anybody in except the Preservation Society and even they don’t take no proper care…”
I let him complain, but when I shake out a trash bag he scurries away. Of course.
I can’t help my vision lingering on the ancient walls and stained glass windows as I clean, where saints in their faded color gaze down in disapproval, framed by grand, lead arches. Yesterday they’d looked stern, but in a splendid, Heavenly Father kind of way. Now, they might smite me. I pick up accidental confetti and peel wax off stands along each row. The candles all melted to stubs through the night; everyone was too distracted to sort it properly and it was so late then, anyway. My foot nudges a fallen program and I wince. Pick it up. Something has nibbled at the paper; probably whatever creature adds to the smell of the place. I stuff the chewed thing in the bin. Ain’t nobody going to want that memento.
Ghosts linger here. I’m not usually spooked, but I feel it in the cold stone of these cracked walls; in the melancholy of crumpled vows; in the lingering stink of too many guests, too much perfume and aftershave, too many shots of whiskey in the vestibule. Maybe the ghosts spooked Molly, too. Or maybe it was just her own damn skeletons. The hair on my arms stands on end as I sweep away the detritus of a wedding that never was. Fuck love. I’m never getting married.
Not even to Molly, no matter what she says.
This story was originally posted on Reddit in response to a constrained writing prompt about an uninhabited building. Thanks for reading! 🙂