For some women their wedding day is the happiest of their lives, for me, it was like the bars of a prison cell slamming shut on me. My family had chosen a man for me, scratch that, my father had chosen a man for me, and no matter how I begged or pleaded I was to be wed.
Now my life before, the life of keeping quiet, would blend into my life now, keeping quiet and keeping my husband happy. What boredom, what tortures await me I have no idea. No one cares about that, though. They care that the man that has been chosen was a good match. He was an asset to the family.
My family is among the richest in the world, my father sits at the head of the largest privately owned multinational conglomerate of corporations. My family had their hands in everything, legal and not so legal.
They thought I didn’t know that. They thought none of the women knew that. They thought we didn’t understand secret meetings and security guards and men showing up bruised and bloody. They thought we didn’t understand secrets. We heard whispers, we heard screams, we were ushered out of rooms, and we were visited by police and agents often. They never told us exactly what they did but we knew enough to keep our mouths shut about whatever it was.
I also knew that the secrets we had kept the men my father worked with as close as family, and just like tradition called for, we kept our unions within that family. My role was only to be pretty and worthy of attracting the kind of men that my father needed to keep close. I had done that and now I was staring into a dark future filled with more secrets and pretending.
My life would be a facade and what had been done could not be undone. For us a combination of religion, fear, and money kept us together no matter what. Divorce would never be an option.
So here I am, feeling the cage doors closing while my husband and I dance our first dance in the presence of my family, those related by blood and those related by secrets. I felt myself smiling, that was what I was supposed to do, but inside I felt hollow and low. I felt trapped, I felt angry, I felt hatred for everyone in the room, and I felt hopeless to do anything about it.
“I can tell you are unhappy.”
The sound of his voice snapped me out of my rage.
“What do you mean?” I couldn’t look at him. I hated him and I was afraid of him. How would he treat me? What secrets would he keep? What lies would he tell me?
We whirled around and around, still smiling like puppets. Still pretending this all meant something
“Your nails are digging into my back and even though you are smiling, you look like you could kill everyone in the room. This isn’t what you want, I know, and I am sorry. This is just what we have to do. I hope you will forgive me.”
The rage was back.
“I will never forgive you.” That was all I dared. This man would decide how much I suffered for the foreseeable future.
“I know you won’t. I know this is not the life you want. I want to tell you a secret though and I am hoping you have enough hatred for everyone in this room to hear me out, give me a chance, and maybe even help me if you can.”
He looked me right in the eyes when he said it, he smiled the whole time too, and he never missed a step in our dance. I was shocked by his words but he held me up when I lost my footing and kept the facade of the happy couple going.
His eyes promised something more than the life I thought I was getting. His eyes promised me a life where I mattered and I would trade anything for that, especially the people who had traded me so easily.
This man had more secrets to tell and I hoped he would tell them to me.
Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.
Featured image via April Killingsworth