I did not want to be here. A sentiment undoubtedly evident on my face for all the other babbling guests to see. Not that I minded much. Certainly others were not shy in bloating my brain with their current well-being and state of affairs. Another mention of Bert’s ingrown toenail or the recent adventures of Snowdrop the pampered pooch and I might have to strangle someone.
The last saccharine notes of the rental orchestra ground to a groaning halt to the smattering cascade of dutiful palms. I followed suit; once, twice, thrice but could manage no more. After indulging in a graceful bow to the audience, the twelve piece orchestra slowly vacated the stage. They were in turn replaced by a group blatantly intent on a more modern flow of music. Surely enough the same spew of reheated, loud nonsense that was almost another traditional part of the conventional, western wedding began polluting the air space.
The day seemed to be one long progression of wearisome alternations. Firstly the drafty, hushed confines of the church where I endured prolonged bouts of boredom at the hands of pomp and ceremony. Now I was the subject of this popular vomit and stilted small talk. At least within the cold, grey interior of the church had I been given the mercy of my own musings. However, under the eves of the white and gold gazebo I was not left the hide in my head but instead expected to be sociable.
Suddenly I could not bear to sit still a moment longer. The new starched trousers that had only a month ago, been held over my head like a thundercloud, wrinkled and buckled immutably as I stood. The spur of movement caught my mother’s eye from where she stood, in conversation with some relation of mine. The name escaped me, as did the will to care. I held nothing against the woman of course; I simply resented the necessity of being here. I knew it was required, I knew it was fair but still the sentiment throbbed moodily. The things we do for family I suppose.
I might’ve given an inadvertent sigh of resignation, as my mother turned an encouraging smile on my disgruntled frame. Returning the gesture with an effort and giving a perfunctory nod towards the lady beside her, I set off in an arbitrary direction. I had decided to move and with no particular destination in mind. I needed to feel the thud and scuff of my highly polished shoes, if only to have something to occupy myself no matter how menial.
The afternoon sun had begun to list lazily in its descent toward the horizon and a wily autumn breeze buffeted the gazebo’s exterior with playful fingers. I passed a handful of faceless guests on their way to the dancefloor. You could reliably identify those who had reached the bottom of their champagne flutes by watching who took to flailing and wobbling in front of the stage first. One strange ritual in hand with another it seems. I left the tottering masses behind me, stalking methodically in the vague direction of the church tower.
Passing by its weather-worn stones, plastered in lichen my attention was piqued by a glinting from the middle distance. After a momentary pause, I realized it was the reflection of a nearby lake. My senses, having withstood relentless triviality were all but numb to stimulation at this point. By contrast to the day’s events, the lolling waters held an immeasurable fascination. I had not known there was a lake here. No one had thought to mention it.
Picking up the pace of my stride, I descended a gentle slope leading down towards the shore passed sparse copses of fir and horse-chestnut trees. Their shadows clung to me greedily, as if to protect their secret reserve from unwanted attention. As I stood upon the damp grass looking out over the cool expanse, a rogue notion occurred to me. Carefully, I slipped my shoes and socks off and setting one foot determinedly in front of the other, I walked up to my ankles into the shallows. It was cold yet not unpleasantly so. The tender lapping around my feet issued a definitive measure of calm and I stood thus for an indeterminate amount of minutes. It was quiet now, as it was back inside the church. Only this time, I wanted to be here.