Wednesday, August 1, 2007


They camped that night in the last dirty dregs of snow outside Adelaide, and in the morning, Diana awoke with her mind made up. She had made a promise and she would keep it. It wasn’t as if she had other options. The fact she was in this fix was proof she couldn’t manage on her own. Will was her best friend. It couldn’t be so hard to be his wife, could it?

They rode into the village, searching for someone who would marry them. Will asked the first townsperson they saw where he could find a judge or a preacher.

“You want to get married here, in our town?” the wizened little man asked.

“If that’s okay.”

“Well, sure it’s okay. It’s just we don’t have any young people around here since the resource wars. You’ll be our first wedding in. . .” He counted on his fingers. “At least eight years.” He grinned. “You go on to the Reverend Bickle’s house and he’ll take care of you. Turn left at the next street and it’ll be third from the end on the left. Green tiles on the roof. Can’t miss it.”

“We're not very religious,” Will said. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“You Christian?”

“My mother used read to me from the Bible.”

“That’ll probably be close enough.” He looked at Diana. “What about you, pretty lady?”

“My family was Lutheran.”

“That’s good.” The man chuckled. “Of course, Bickle would probably not much care if you worshipped trees, it’s been so long since he’s married anyone.”

They found the preacher’s house without any trouble and Bickle agreed to marry them that afternoon. His wife, Linnie took one look at Diana’s muddy boots and stained canvas pants, and pronounced her unfit to be a bride. “Come with me,” she said. “I’ll get you fixed up proper.” Before Diana could protest, she hustled her into a bedroom where she loaned her a pale yellow dress. “You can’t get married looking like you just wandered in from milking the cows.”

“He’s used to seeing me this way.”

“And does he marry you every day?” The woman brushed out Diana’s hair and pinned it in a pile on top of her head, decorating it with a flower from a vase at her bedside. Then she dug a yellow ribbon out of a dresser drawer, tied it in a bow on Diana’s wrist, and stepped back to admire her work.

By the time she led Diana back into the living room, a few neighbors had gathered, rounded up by the man they had encountered when they first came into town. They were a cheerful, decrepit lot, and they milled about, arguing over whose children, nieces or grandchildren had been the last ones married in town, and what had become of them.

When Diana saw the crowd that had gathered, she approached Will in confusion. Someone had loaned him a suit and a clean shirt, and his boots were freshly polished.

“What’s all this about?” she asked.

“I guess they don’t get much excitement around here.”

“They came just for this?”

“They’re nice folks. They just want to make it more like a proper wedding. They brought presents and they’re going to fix us dinner afterwards.”

Diana looked at the smiling villagers in dismay. “We don’t even know them.”

“Does it matter?”

“I guess not.” She glanced at the preacher, who was flipping through his Bible. Diana resisted the urge to rub her sweaty hands on her skirt. “Let’s just get this over with."

“Are you sure this is what you want? You don’t sound happy.”

Diana forced a smile. “I’m just overwhelmed. This is happening awfully fast, and I didn’t expect anyone to make such a fuss.”

Will took her hand. “Everyone likes weddings.”


Alice Audrey said...

Wow, he actually gave her a chance to change her mind? Well, he is a decent guy, if a bit blindered.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Yes, Will is a decent guy, but damaged. He had a traumatic childhood - abused, sold by his own parents, and then living on the streets - before conniving Donovan into taking him to Valle Redondo where Amalia and her sister Carina took him in.

His first meeting with Diana set the tone for their relationship forever after. She was friendly, pretty, confident, and to Will's way of thinking, she was rich and well-educated. She could read. Her family had a horse, sheep and honeybees. She liked him right away and assumed he was her equal, which really turned his head after so many years of being just another worthless street kid. Will has spent the rest of his life trying to be who he thinks she wants him to be.

All of this is why I can't hate Will for manipulating Diana. She never holds it against him, either. When her head finally clears a little, she recognizes the situation for what it is and is angry about it, but she'll never hate him.

Alice Audrey said...

Gah! Don't give anything away!

Wait. I already knew that would happen, since the characters are true to themselves.