It was an outdoor wedding. Henry stood proud and happy at the front of the service. Mathew turned and grinned at him. “You next, OK?” he said. The organ started to play and a gentle creature in white started slowly up the aisle. Her fat father was on her arm, looking jolly with a face like a rose. An excited atmosphere had risen from the audience in the stands. Everyone was smiling, only a few pairs of eyes welled tears, the sun glistening in. Henry saw Tiana, Mark, Conner, and West all clumped together in the audience. Mark shot Henry a grin. He looked around the stands for Marina’s face, but couldn’t find it on the groom’s side. He thought perhaps she’d been seated wrong, yet still couldn’t find her. He was sure she must be about somewhere. He looked over at Ansa, finally taking her last steps toward her betrothed. He took one final glance back and saw Mathew’s parents, sitting rigidly. He smiled.
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The ceremony played out. The Priest read through his part.
Mathew had remained a Catholic throughout his religious revelations. He had taken many paths about his faith; he had questioned it with other teachings from books his friends smuggled him whilst he lived with his parents. He developed his understanding by discovering the many ways one’s heart can lead him, and ultimately he decided what it was he truly felt was right. He held onto God.
Henry, now an agnostic had respected his friend’s decision. Henry himself had spent many years simply acknowledging his Protestantism. After this age of questioning God and hating Him for being such a ridiculously helpless deity, Henry found that the Bible meant nothing to him. And so he chose his own path. He hoped vaguely that there was a God, and that he would indeed live forever in some form, but he held no given faith any longer.
Those fateful moments arrived. Mathew looked quite humourous to his friends and family as he was. His light hair dragged down in a long ponytail behind him, and atop his head sat a top hat. Henry’s smile ached as he heard those ridiculously meaningful words spoken. Ansa followed with her delicate voice, and they slipped their rings onto one another. Henry wondered for a moment where that penetrating tradition came from.
Suddenly everyone clapped and cheered. The lovers had kissed. Henry almost hopped he was so glad. He looked for Marina again.
“Alright, calm down,” said Mathew.
“No, I’m not calming down, Mathew, fuck off, I am not calming down!”
He was on his earphone trying to find someone who knew where Marina was. He was running short of ideas. Zoraida made her way over to them. She was coming to tell them what a wonderful reception it was, and how much she enjoyed the wine when she realised something was amiss.
“I can’t find her, Nan,” he said.
“She’ll be fine, Harry, just give it a moment, she’ll turn up. She’s a big girl, she can handle herself.”
“Zoraida,” he said to his grandmother, “She would not miss this. Something has happened.”
Zoraida tried to think of someone else to call, but he’d phoned every address it made sense to. Most of their friends were present at the reception. They asked about, yet no one could recall any helpful information.
“She’s alright Henri,” said Weston. “You don’t need to freak out, man. Since when the fuck do you freak out? Trust me, she’s OK. Just chill.”
Henry punched Weston in the stomach. Mark and Mathew held West back from fighting.
“Just calm down,” said Mark into his ear. “Just go easy, go and sit down, and we’ll sort this out when it’s not fucking Mathew’s wedding, alright?”
Afterwards Henry and Zoraida rode in the same car home. Samantha and Damien were in the seat behind them. Henry began to get tearful in his calming state.
“Oh come here, darling,” she said. “It’s all going to be fine. We’ll find her.”
“Nan,” he said. “Mary’s going…she’s pregnant. She’s got my baby in her. She’s…” He chocked.
Zoraida held him as tightly as she could. He’d never been held by her before. He let a few tears drop, and suddenly felt ridiculous, as it was still possible she was perfectly fine.
When they got home it was decided that they’d try ringing the hospital.
“Hi, um, has someone by the name of Marina Tiva been checked in today at any point?”
“Hold on one moment, sir. There doesn’t appear to be any patients here by that name. Marna Teafa, did you say, sir?”
“No, Marina Tiva.” He spelt it aloud.
“By the way, sir, I just love your accent.”
“Thank you,” he said, irritated.
He heard keys typing and then a few moments of silence.
“We have a…some…would you like to come down to the hospital right away, sir?”
“You might want to try to identify someone.”
Henry immediately got in a car. Samantha and Zoraida followed him quickly, jumping in the back seats. It wasn’t until they were moving that he informed them of what he’d been asked to do. He didn’t elaborate any more than the woman on the other end of the phone had.
When they arrived, they were asked to wait a few moments. Five minutes later a female nurse came and asked them to follow her. Two at a time, please. Samantha stayed behind. All the way down the busy corridor Henry’s heart pounded irrationally. He could barely keep his movements stable. His blood pumped so fast he felt he would explode soon. They entered the cold morgue. There was a table covered by a sheet. The unmistakable figure of a woman lay beneath it.
“Are you ready, sir,” the woman asked flatly.
He nodded. Zoraida held her hands to her mouth. The sheet was pulled back. The features set into Henry’s mind. It was her. It was the body of Mary.
He started to breath heavily. He started to rock and walk about. He kept looking back at the body and then turning away.
“Can you identify this body, sir?”
He couldn’t make words.
“Could you tell me who it is, please, sir?”
“It…it’s Marina Tiva. Oh God, it…oh God. No, no, no, no.”
He ran out, but immediately afterwards he returned. He came near the body again and saw her face. It was so white. He thought she’d been a pale person, but now her skin had nothing to it. But it was her face, unbroken.
His fingers worked their way under her shoulders. So cold, so dull, like meat. As he brought his face to hers, tears ran.
“What happened? What happened?” he asked.
“She was hit by a vehicle, sir. Her spine was ruptured. There was nothing we could do for her.”
“OK, OK,” he said. He left.
Zoraida followed him out. After a moment they were asked to sign a form. They did so carelessly, then went out to the waiting room to Samantha.
“Is it…?” she asked.
Henry nodded and continued to march forward. He slammed the hospital entrance open with his hand. Samantha started sobbing. Zoraida drove them home.
When Henry finally set himself down in his room he decided there was nothing left for him. She was gone, and his baby would never come, and his entire future was dead. He realised this and he hyperventilated. The gasps soon turned into cries, and then into screams. He walked about banging on things, his knuckles starting to bleed. Finally he picked them up and threw them. He threw the TVPC monitor into the wall. It didn’t smash, so he picked it up again, and started beating it into the French doors that led out to the balcony. When they were all destroyed he moved into his other room and upturned everything. Anything of worth became smashed to pieces. He screamed as loud as his voice allowed, perhaps louder, it becoming an untamed screech, a wail. Samantha came to his door, wanting to sooth him, but he paid her no mind. She stood back, slightly afraid. He cried so loud his face was red and tears flowed fluently down his cheeks. He moved into a corner, shaking and sobbing. But the shaking was too powerful to allow him respite. He continued to move and walk about, sobbing, until he vomited. But still he continued. He didn’t sleep all night long. He finally fell unconscious when the sun rose.