My hands are shaking, I cannot stop them and I am barely breathing, because never in my life have I felt more beautiful than in this moment, right here. Enveloped in white lace and tulle, I carefully run my fingertips along the tiny seams in the bodice of my dress. The princess staring back at me from the mirror smiles, and I can feel tears welling up in my eyes. I have not even started down the aisle yet. I truly hope everyone is right when they say this is going to be the happiest day of my life. I pull up the sweetheart top a bit, adjusting my bust to look just right. I take a deep breath, nervousness rising up within me. Am I making a mistake? My hand immediately goes to my mother’s locket around my neck. The locket itself is silver with tiny blue and white flowers on the front and it dangles from a chain I bought six years ago at a local jeweler’s going out of business sale. There is nothing in the locket, the small metal clip that was supposed to hold in a picture or a lock of hair has long since broken. I have thought about getting it fixed, and Bruce, the man waiting for me at the end of the aisle, has offered to get it fixed many times, but I don’t think it will ever happen.
I was nine years old when my grandmother died. Her house was old and not in the best part of town, but she always had something baking. Cookies, pies, or cakes were always “just about to pop out of the oven, so why don’t you stay for a bit” and she always had enough to share. I remember seeing the locket swinging from her neck as she forcibly mixed the cookie dough by hand with a large wooden spoon, or as she pressed down the rolling pin to flatten out a pie crust. I would sit opposite her at the small island in the bright yellow kitchen and she would tell me stories about princesses and dragons. She told me that her locket was given to her by a fairy godmother, and that it had given her the strength to escape her dragon all by herself. At the time I did not realize she was talking about my grandfather. Grandmother said the locket would become my mother’s, and then mine. She talked about my mother becoming strong enough to run from her dragon, but little did she know that two years after she died, my mother’s dragon would run himself out of town.
I was eleven years old when my father left. I cried and cried, waiting for daddy to come home. My brother told me that daddy was never coming home, that love is a joke and only the stupid believe in it. I remember my grandmother’s locket swinging around Mommy’s neck as she fell after Daddy hit her, and the chain breaking as he pulled her close enough to smell the alcohol on his breath, screaming that she was the biggest mistake of his life. Mommy picked up the locket and told him to leave if he wanted to, but know that if he did, he better not ever come crawling back. I can still see the imprint of the flowers on her palm from how hard she was clutching the locket when she finally let go of it three hours later. She never got the chance to wear the locket again after that. We went to the doctor to get her nose set and the doctor saw something on the scans, we should do some more tests. The locket got put in her jewelry box and stayed there through the two rounds chemo. I almost buried it with her. Almost.
I am twenty six years old, gazing at this locket hanging from my own neck, the history of it weighing me down. I carry these women with me now, and forever more. My grandmother never got her happily ever after because by the time she left my grandfather she had a daughter to think of, and my mother’s life was cut short before she got a happy ending. When I walk down this aisle, I will be bringing them with me. I will share this with them for all they gave me. I release the locket, sure in my decision to trust in love and myself. One more deep breath, and as the wedding march begins I can almost feel them with me as I walk to meet my prince, not a dragon in sight.
Bio: My name is Sydney Sheldrick. I am a middle child of five, all brothers, from the middle of America. I am currently studying American Literature at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. My hobbies include reading, movies, and spending time with my pug, Peanut.
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