I quite liked the story I came up with so I thought I’d write a continuation of it. Even after this one, I can see more parts are possible, but I’m flying by the seat of my pants – there’s no grand plan and I don’t know what’s coming next.
“You made it, then? Good to see you, buddy. Ready for the big day?”
The last thing Pat had expected was a two-hour phone call from Mark last night. But, with much cajoling and a tiny amount of strong-arm, Pat had successfully calmed Mark’s nerves. He could do far worse than Laura, after all. And Mark had at least turned up today. Now to find out what sort of state he was in.
“I need a stiff drink”, was as much as Mark could muster right now.
At that time of day, the bar was quiet, and Pat quickly bought two small brandies before ushering Mark to a table.
“I mean, what made her call last night, of all nights?”
“Did she know when you were getting married?”
“She said not.”
“Then can’t you just put it down to coincidence?”
In lieu of a response, Mark merely grunted, dissatisfied. All the call had done was reopen old wounds. He emptied his glass in a single gulp. “I need another.”
He felt Pat’s hand on his arm. “Sorry, buddy, but that was your one drink. You have somewhere you need to be, and I intend to get you there sober.”
And Pat was good to his word, shepherding Mark to the waiting room in the registry office, fifteen minutes before the appointed time. Taking the last opportunity to speak privately, Pat whispered, “When Laura gets here, she doesn’t need to know anything about this, right? Nothing you could say would help.”
No sooner had Pat uttered those words when the door opened to reveal his parents, followed shortly afterwards by Laura herself, and best friend Amy. She looked resplendent in a cream blouse and crimson formal dress, her favourite brooch, an heirloom from her grandmother, pinned to her lapel. Made up perfectly, Mark had never seen Laura look so pretty.
“Hi, Mark, you’re looking sharp. I like that suit.” They had made a pact not to see each other’s intended attire beforehand, and he and Pat had bought their matching, light grey morning suits two weeks before. Leaning in to kiss his cheek, she muttered, “Hmm, you smell good, too. And not too much booze”, she added approvingly.
“Thanks, babes. I thought I should probably stay sober for this”, Mark smiled.
“No second thoughts?”
“None”, lied Mark. “Let’s do this.”
Half an hour later, the pair emerged from the registry office, a married couple. They enjoyed a small celebration at the Chesterton Court, an ancient, plush hotel only ten minutes from the registry office, before returning to Mark’s – their – apartment together, to pack for the honeymoon. A delicious ten days exploring the kasbahs of Marrakesh.
A world away from here, thought Mark, as he unbuttoned his coat, finally having warmed himself from the cold drizzle outside. He was contemplating ordering another hot chocolate, maybe even another piece of that delicious flapjack, when the chair opposite moved. Looking up, Mark realised that his guest had finally arrived.
“Hi, Mark, I’m sorry I’m late.”
“Hi, no worries”. he assured. as he stood to greet her properly, “I’m just glad you made it at all. What would you like to drink, Toni?”