Monday, June 27, 2011

The Wedding Veil

My membership on is coming to a close and due to present economic concerns I can't afford to renew it, so I am cleaning out my port and saving my stories to my computer so I don't lose them. This is a fun one I wrote a while back and am considering a sequel to it. In fact, I think you might see the sequel this Friday for my flash about cursed objects.  I hope you enjoy.

The Wedding Veil
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

 “Damn it!” I yelled, pounding my steering wheel in frustration. I’d been driving around in circles for an hour and I still couldn’t find the hotel. Leave it to Jason to pick a place in the middle of nowhere to meet, always worrying someone would see us together and tell his wife. Well, no chance of that. If I couldn’t find the hotel, there’d be nothing to tell Cecile. I reached for my cell phone to try and call him again, but got the same response I’d gotten the last 3 times I’d tried. Nothing! I couldn’t even pick up a damn signal in this forsaken outback. Doing a u-turn, I headed in the opposite direction.

“Where’d that come from?” I wondered, noticing a little shop on the left hand side of the road. I was sure it hadn’t been there the last 50 million times I’d driven past. “That’s silly,” I chided myself. “You’ve just been so busy worrying about Jason, that you didn’t notice it. You’re looking for a hotel, not an out of the way gift shop. I slowed the car and stared whimsically at a sign announcing CURIOSITY SHOP and below that another sign that said, OPEN.

Curiosity Shop. My grandmother had loved to browse those, looking for unusual items. She always said there was magic in the things found in such stores. Of course I knew better than that, but I was lost. Maybe the proprietor would know where The Last Chance Hotel was located at.

Last Chance, that’s what I considered Jason. My last chance at happiness and landing a man. True, he was married, but we loved each other. And he promised, right after Abby’s birthday he was going to ask Cecile for a divorce. But he couldn’t do it with Abby’s birthday so close. It would ruin her day. Of course, no matter when he told her, Abby would take it hard. No girl wanted her parents to divorce, but she’d adjust and I was sure I could make her love me. After all, Jason loves me.

I pulled into the parking lot of the Curiosity Shop and parked my car. Getting out, I scanned some of the items in the window. There were a variety of oddities. I saw some science beakers that looked like they came right out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. And a monkey’s paw! I grimaced, remembering a story I’d read about a monkey’s paw and the wishes it granted, including the resurrection of a woman’s dead son. The story was a reminder to be careful what you wished for.

I paused for a moment. This place was creepy and I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet Jason bad enough to risk going into such an outlandish store. I could always go home and tell Jason I couldn’t find the hotel. Time alone with him was so rare though, and I longed to feel his arms around me again. Besides, Jason could get so angry at times, and I didn’t want to make him mad again. The last time I’d missed a rendezvous with him, I’d had to wear sunglasses for a week. Of course he was sorry afterwards, he always was. He’d cried and begged me to forgive him, which I had. Still, I didn’t want to take the chance of angering him again. “Shit!” I said, opening the door and stepping inside.

As soon as the door closed, I felt as though I’d entered a strange world. There was a jar of dried toads on a shelf and I wondered why anyone would ever want to buy something like that. “The same person who would buy a monkey’s paw.” I reminded myself. I didn’t see a clerk anywhere around, so I bided my time perusing what the store had to offer. I picked up a wedding veil and smiled, imaging my wedding to Jason. Of course I couldn’t wear anything so old fashioned. Putting the veil down I moved on, looking at the other oddities that lined the shelves. There was a doll, so old the face was peeling in places, books, with titles like, How To Bring Your Pet Back From The Dead and I Married An Alien and a snow globe. The snow globe caught my attention, reminding me of one I had as a child. I admired the scene inside of a couple ice skating, arm in arm on a lake. I shook the globe and laughed at how it looked like the little people inside were moving around. Of course, it was just a trick of the light, but for just a moment, I wished I was in there with them.

I heard a noise in the back and made my way towards the sound. There I found the proprietor of the shop. She had the wedding veil I’d been looking at earlier and was wrapping it up in a box. Someone must be buying it, I thought, I don’t know why that made me feel so sad since I had no intention of wearing it, but I had this strange longing to tell her that whatever the other person was going to pay, I would pay more, which was really crazy since it wasn’t my style. This veil was too old fashioned and I was strictly a modern girl. At least that’s what I keep telling my mom every time she complains about me still being single at 32.

“Mom,” I would say, “get with the times. I’m a modern girl, and a woman doesn’t have to be married to feel like she’s accomplished something.” Of course, I didn’t really mean it, but I couldn’t tell her about Jason. She’d never approve of me dating a married man. She’ll forgive me holding this information back once Jason divorces Cecile and marries me. She’ll see how wonderful he is, and of course she’ll love Abby. She’s always saying she wants grandchildren.

“Ah! There you are!” the woman said, as though it was she who had been looking for me and not the other way around.

“This is quite an interesting little store you have here.” I said, trying to sound polite.

“Yes, yes!” the woman said. She was short, with grey hair and looked remarkably like my grandmother. I felt a strange longing for the woman who had passed away a few years earlier. It had been at her funeral that I’d met Jason. He’d just started at the law firm that represented Grandma’s estate and he’d shown up to pay his respects. He’d been the lawyer to draw up her will and told me how fondly Grandma had spoken of me. I’d ended up crying like an idiot and he’d taken me outside to get some fresh air. A few days later he took me out to dinner to discuss the will. Grandma had left a large portion to me, her only grandchild and Jason was the executor, which meant we ended up having several more meetings to discuss the details. A few dinners later, he and I had fallen madly in love, but because of Cecile’s illness, he couldn’t tell her about us right away. Then it turned out Cecile wasn’t ill, but pregnant and of course he couldn’t ask her for a divorce while she was carrying his child.

“I saw you looking at this and decided to get it wrapped for you.” the woman said.

“Oh no!” I said, a little too loudly. She stopped and looked up at me. “I mean, I was looking at it, but I don’t want to buy it.”

“Are you sure?” the woman asked. “You look like a woman in love. Are you sure you don’t have a wedding coming up?”

I blushed. How did she guess? “Well, it won’t be for another year. My boyfriend has something he needs to take care of first. But in a few months I turn 33. That was my grandmother’s favorite number and when I’ll receive my inheritance. Then I’ll be able to afford to buy the wedding dress of my dreams. I won’t need such an old veil.”

“Ah, but this isn’t just an old veil!” the woman said. “It has a history. It was sewn by a sorceress, who put a charm on it.”

“A charm?” I asked, curious.

“Any bride wearing this veil will know that the man she is marrying is the one for her. If he’s not, she will know that too. She made it at the request of a woman who thought her daughter was marrying the wrong man. The day of the wedding, she put it on and her mother had been correct! The man was cheating on her and she saw it all with the veil.”

“That’s…horrible,” I said, pushing it back at her. “Why would I want to wear something like that?”

“The bride kept the veil, and the next man that asked for her hand, she said yes to, but only after having put the veil on and seeing that he truly loved her. The veil showed her that they would have a long life together and lots of children. Besides,” the woman said with a sly smile, “you know the rhyme; something old, something new......”

She was right. The veil could be my something old. And it had history. My grandmother loved history. That’s why she loved these curiosity shops. Wearing the veil would honor my grandmother, who after all is the reason Jason and I even met.

As I was paying, I asked for directions to The Last Chance Hotel. The woman chuckled knowingly at me. Winking, she told me she’d been young once too. She reached under her counter and pulled out an old bottle of wine. I protested, but she wouldn’t hear my pleas. “No charge.” she said. “My gift to you and your young man.”

Jason was allergic to alcohol, so of course I couldn’t use it. But the old woman had such a twinkle in her eye; I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I took the bottle and thanked her, remembering the time my grandmother and I had celebrated my 21st birthday with a bottle, similar to this one.

The Last Chance Hotel wasn’t difficult to find, once I knew where I was going. Pulling into the parking lot, I parked my car next Jason’s. I couldn’t believe I’d had such a hard time finding this place. I always tried to arrive at our rendezvous before Jason, and here I was more than an hour late. I hoped he wasn’t too angry with me. I used the key he gave me to let myself into the room.

“About time!” Jason yelled. “I was about to give up and go home to Cecile. Maybe I was wrong to think I could depend on you!”

“I’m sorry.” I pleaded. “I couldn’t find the place. I took a wrong turn. I was on Old 105 instead of New 105. I had to stop and ask directions.”

“And do a little shopping?”

“I couldn’t just go in and ask directions without purchasing something. That would be rude.”

“Well let’s see what you thought was worth spending money on.”

I’d left the wine in the car, knowing what his reaction would be, but pulled the veil out of the bag.

“That’s hideous!” Jason exploded. “Why would you waste money on that?”

“Well, the old woman seemed to have her heart set on me having it. It really didn’t cost that much. You know, she reminded me of my grandma.”

“It’s lucky for you I’m so understanding.” Jason said. “Take it back in the morning. If you didn’t have me, you’d be broke within a year. Luckily I’m here to watch your spending habits. You’re so sentimental; you’d buy any gimcrack that reminded you of your grandmother.”

“What would I do without you?” I murmured.

“Let’s not find out.” Jason said, roughly pulling me to him. I dropped the wedding veil by the side of the bed, giving in to his demands.”

Jason left right after he was done. He never stayed, always rushing back to Cecile, so she wouldn’t be suspicious of his business meetings. I used to cry, once I was all alone, but over the years I had grown used to his leaving and now, just reminded myself that eventually we’d be together. Once he left Cecile, we’d have all the time in the world.

Jason had told me to wait an hour before leaving, so I turned on the TV and watched an infomercial on a blender that was supposed to make your life so much easier, by cutting cooking time in half. I picked the wedding veil up and for no reason I can think of, went into the bathroom and tried it on. It was beautiful! I don’t know how I could ever have thought it was too old fashioned. It would be perfect for my wedding.

But Jason had told me to return it tomorrow. Still, tonight it was mine. No reason I couldn’t wear it for a little while. Leaving the veil on my head, I went back to the television and flipped through the channels. I still had 20 minutes before I could leave.

I fell asleep to the drone of another infomercial. I dreamed that Jason and I were getting married. Everyone I loved was there. My mother, my dad and even my grandmother. It was the happiest day of my life.

Then Cecile showed up, begging me not to do this.

“Marrying Jason will be a mistake,” she screamed at me.

I told her that she was just jealous because she’d been unable to hang onto such a wonderful man.
I told her to go away, but she refused, begging me to look at what he’d done to her. I tried to walk away, but Abby blocked my path. Something didn’t seem right about her. She was crying and was pale as a ghost. Then I realized she was a ghost and so was Cecile!

“You did this to us!” Abby accused. “This is your fault.”

“Shush!” Cecile scolded her daughter. “She’s as mush of a victim as we are,” Cecile pleaded for me to listen, “If you go through with this, he’ll kill you too! He only wants your money.”

“He doesn’t need my money.” I protested. “He’s rich enough without me.”

“Don’t be silly, you foolish girl.” Grandmother snapped at me. “It’s his greed that caused my death. You don’t really think I’d be foolish enough not to have my furnace checked. I had it checked every year. When it would be my time to go, it wasn’t going to be from carbon monoxide poisoning.”

“But he’s already rich!” I protested, trying to push my way past the tree of them.

Cecile laughed. “Honey, I’m the one who’s rich. He didn’t have a penny to his name when we met. I had him sign a pre-nuptial agreement. If he ever cheated or divorced me, he’d get nothing. Why do you think he doesn’t tell me about you?”

I glanced at Abby and Cecile laughed some more. “He never wanted children. He was so angry when I got pregnant. Abby was someone who was cutting into his money. He knew someday I’d die; after all, my health has never been that good. Now some of my money was going to be going to Abby. “

”No!” I protested. “He loves Abby.”

“Your grandmother’s right.” Cecile said. “You are a foolish child. He used Abby as an excuse to keep you waiting in the sidelines. That way, when I finally did die, he would have my money and be free to marry you…and your money. But then you told him your little secret and he had to speed up my death.”

Cecile gestured towards my belly, and I knew what she was referring to. My insurance that Jason would have to tell Cecile about us. I hadn’t told him yet; I was going to wait until after Abby’s birthday.

“Once you told him, he knew he was going to have to act quickly. My health had been steadily getting worse, but I wasn’t at the point of death He knew if I found out about your affair, I would divorce him and he’d get nothing. So he made his plans and made sure he was out of town the night of the fire. Or at least made it appear as though he’d been out of town. Abby and I didn’t wake up in time to get out; compliments of the sedative he’d given us. And now that he’s gotten away with murder again, he’s feeling pretty confident. It won’t be long before he tries it again. After all, he doesn’t want another child coming into the world, cutting into his finances.”

I woke up out of breath. “It was just a bad dream.” I said, ripping the veil off my head. Daylight was streaming in through the window and I realized I’d spent the night there. Jason would be angry if he knew. He was always worried someone would find out about us and if I were to be seen leaving a hotel room that would just raise questions. I grabbed the wedding veil and hurried out the door to my car. I might as well return it before I headed home.

Two hours later, I was in my living room, along with the cursed veil. I’d tried to find the Curiosity Shop, but it wasn’t where I remembered. In fact, none of the businesses in the area had ever heard of the store. I’d returned home, not sure what to think, my head filled with the dream I’d had and my grandmothers words about the magic found inside such shops. The store owner had told me the veil showed you the truthes about the man you were going to marry. Had it shown me something from the future? I had to know. Picking up the phone, I called Cecile. I asked her to meet me.

A few hours later there was a knock on my door. When I opened the door, Cecile came in, stepping past me without a word. She sat down on my sofa and I sat across from her in my grandmother’s favorite chair, the coffee table between us. I started to tell her about my relationship with Jason. When I was finished, she didn’t seem surprised or shocked. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out some pictures. It seems she’d been suspicious of Jason’s late night business meetings and she’d had him followed.

“Why haven’t you confronted him?” I asked, confused.

“I’ve been married to him a long time,” she said. “I know his temper. I thought the pre-nup would protect me, but I’ve come to realize that if I say anything to him, if I try to divorce him, he will kill me and make it look like an accident.”

I told her about the dream I’d had and how in the dream she and Abby were ghosts. She held the veil in her hands, then put it on. Closing her eyes, she was quiet for a bit, then tears began to form. Suddenly she yanked it off her head and threw it across the floor.

“You saw it?” I asked, knowing she had. Cecile looked terrified.

“He’s going to do it soon. Tonight I think, or tomorrow. He knows about your…condition.”

“I haven’t told him!” I said.

“He is in charge of your trust fund. He knows every penny you spend. In the vision I saw Jason talking to your doctor. He wanted to know what some of the billing codes were on the bill he’d received. He was wearing the tie and suit he left for work in this morning.”

“Okay,” I said, trying to understand what had frightened her. “So he knows. That doesn’t mean he’s going to kill you.”

“After I saw that I saw him coming home. He told me he had a business meeting to go to. He made me a drink…Abby too. I saw him put something in our drinks. Then I saw a fire.” Cecile told me all that, her voice flat, as though she were helpless. “He’s going to kill us. And then he’ll marry you.”

“We have to call the police!” I said. I felt as though I was coming out of a spell. I couldn’t believe I had ever fallen for Jason. How could I not see what a monster he was?

“And what are we going to tell them?” Cecile scoffed. “Jason is a respected attorney. He may have only been here for a few years, but he’s made quite a name for himself. And you…well, everyone knows how flighty you can be.”

“Flighty?” I said, offended.

“Please, don’t be upset. It’s true. Your grandmother was a bit eccentric and people believe you inherited her little quirks. It’s not a bad thing. But if you tell the police that you had a vision that told you Jason was going to kill us, they aren’t going to believe you, especially when you say you got the vision from an enchanted wedding veil.”

“You can tell them you had one too!”

“I’ve been ill lately. I have certain medication I take that can cause some side effects. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I was hallucinating.”
“So what can we do?” I asked. “We can’t let him kill you and Abby. Maybe if I end things with him. I won’t tell him about the visions. I’ll just tell him I’ve changed my mind and I don’t want to see him anymore.”

“Do you really think that will work?” Cecile asked. “What happens to your money if you die before your turn 33?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t made a will.” I paused a minute, thinking about all the papers I had signed. Suddenly one particular paper swum into view. “Oh my God! I signed some papers giving power of attorney to Jason if anything ever happened to me!”

“Then he doesn’t need to marry you.” Cecile said.

“What do we do?” I asked. Then a plan began to form in my mind and I told Cecile about the other item I had aquired at The Curiosity Shop.

Together, Cecile and I came up with a plan. I called Jason and told him I needed to see him. He was angry at me for calling him at work, but I insisted it was urgent. I had something I needed to tell him. When he arrived at my place, on the pretence of discussing my trust fund, I offered him some wine, none alcoholic, I assured him. As he drank it I told him of my pregnancy. He went into a rage, which of course got his blood flowing through his veins faster. The alcohol worked quickly. He began feeling sick and when Cecile walked out from a back room he realized what we had done. But we’d had no choice. He’d killed my grandmother and would most likely kill us. Really, it was self defense. 
Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved

1 comment:

  1. Gah! I was going to write about a cursed wedding dress for Flash Friday! LOL.

    Very interesting story and premise. I would love to read a sequel!