Reaching up with two trembling hands, Allison pulled the thin lace veil over her face. Adjusting it slightly, making sure that it covered the curves of her cheeks without sticking to the soft pink of her lipstick. Looking in the mirror, the young woman took in her appearance, pressing her palms to the silk of her dress in a feeble attempt to steady them.
Like most little girls, Ali had spent her childhood dreaming of the future and how the man that she'd finally marry would be Prince Charming. Nothing short of perfect. Rolling around in the field of dandelions that was just beyond her back yard, the little girl would rub the weeds on the apples of her cheeks and chin, imaging what she would be like as a 'grown up'. She knew that the day would come. She just hadn't expected it to happen so soon.
Cerulean and completely cloudless, the sky beyond the window of her childhood bedroom reminded the woman of carefree springs spent chasing butterflies and lady bugs. But her days of melting Popsicles and sundresses were packed away in cardboard boxes along with her Barbie dolls and Easy Bake Oven. Turning back to her own reflection, she had nothing but the future to look forward too.
As the memories of her childhood slipped away, the sounds of her friends and family milling around downstairs began to compete with the gentle notes of one of her favorite Beethoven pieces that was playing in the living room. The two sounds began to mingle together, the voices providing a haunting chorus for the rich sounds of the piano.
It was a soundtrack that she had grown used to as a child at countless family gatherings but for some reason, Allison had never been comfortable with it. The din of chatter always seemed to carry snippets of rumor and speculation of the worst sort, and most recently those voices seemed to be uttering her name more than others.
Looking into her own deep green eyes through the mesh, Allison thought about the past few months, and a soft voice spoke in the back of her mind. 'In sickness and in health.' In saying 'yes' to her Prince's proposal, Ali knew what was in store, what her future would be.
Countless bottles of various cancer medications and weekly rounds of chemo had stolen her innocence in a way that even the terrors of adolescence couldn't. And now she stood staring back at her own reflection wondering what had happened to girl she had once been.
Allison had hoped that her veil would hide the dark circles under her eyes, but anyone that cared to take a second glance at the woman would able to see them. It wasn't like they were new. No, the tell tale bags had been there for a while now. They'd become a permanent feature of her normally gentle face.
Tearing her thoughts away from the woman gazing back at her, Ali's eyes flickered towards the tiny clock that stood atop her dresser. With the big hand only a few ticks away from touching together with the little one, the girl breathed deeply, closing her mossy eyes as she did so.
What should have been a sigh to soothe her nerves only caused her insides to ache with the pain of the past few months. Fighting back the tears that she had managed to hold at bay for so long, Allison couldn't help but think about the moment her Prince had proposed. The moment that he slipped the ring on her finger, she knew she'd made the right choice.
No matter how much it would hurt in the end.
Softly and tenderly, a gentle knock cut through the dull roar of her family and Beethoven performing their haunting duet. The sound was instantly familiar, and before she had a chance to say anything, Allison's mother had made her way into the room. "It's almost time Ali."
Caught in the tangle of her eye lashes, a single tear soaked into the eye shadow and mascara that had been applied only a little while earlier. "I know mom. I just…" Trailing off, her voice broke as her mother's hand touched her cheek gently.
"I know, honey. I know." Reaching out towards a small, cut glass jewelry dish, the older woman picked up a pair of sparkling earrings. They were made up of three shining crystals, the largest at the bottom, making them look like glittering tears. "I think that you should wear these today. He loved them on you."
"Something borrowed…" Looking down at the shimmering heirlooms, Allison remembered the only other time that she had worn them. Dressed in a fairy tale gown, she wore her hair up to purposely show off the jewels. Turning her head slowly to allow them to catch the light, her Prince had kissed her softly on the cheek, whispering that the gems were nothing in comparison to her beauty.
"No, something old. They're yours now, remember." Pushing back the soft waves of her daughter's hair, the woman watched as the girl slipped the posts though her ear lobes. Mimicking her child's earlier actions, Allison's mother reached out to adjust the black veil, running the tips of fingers over the earrings as she did so.
The earrings swayed as the young woman shook her head, but, instead of sparkling in the warm spring sun, they looked just as empty and devoid of light as Allison's eyes. Reaching out, the girl threw her arms around her mother's neck, just as she had the day she realized what death meant. "I'm not ready for this, Mom."
Clinging to her sobbing child, the older woman rocked her gently, stroking her hair as she did so. "Oh, Allison, we're never ready for the deaths of our loved ones."
The whole family had known that this day would come. They just didn't know that it would be so soon.
Cillian Chase's Chart
- Originally written for the lj community house las. (Theme: Spring)
- Ah Katie, that you for the wonderful beta job. You're most excellent. :duck: