As I opened the window I could hear the faint pealing of bells over the valley – someone had just got married in the village.
The blossom tree had scattered its petals like pink confetti onto the velvet lawn. The strong scent of hyacinths wafted in on the spring breeze. A blackbird was singing happily as it basked in the sun.
‘Do you think that sugar pink was the best colour for my bridesmaid dresses, Auntie Louise?’ said Sophie.
I turned round and smiled at my niece. She was holding a puffy pink satin gown. It reminded me of the pink sugared almonds she’d ask me to place in tulle nets and tie with tiny ribbons.
‘Er, yes,’ I replied. ‘It reminds me of pink blossom.’
‘Oh great. I couldn’t make up my mind between the pink or the lemon.’
‘You always were a bit indecisive, love.’
‘Yeah, it took me an age to choose the dress. I’ve got my final fitting this afternoon!’ enthused Sophie. ‘You’ll love the gown – it’s an ivory lace fishtail. It’s very snug fitting so I hope I haven’t gained weight,’ she giggled, putting her petite hands on her tiny waist.
I thought of my wedding gown which was now stored in the attic. It was a fairytale gown with a sweetheart neckline. Tiny pink rosebuds had been sewn into the huge tulle skirt and the bodice was woven with tiny crystals which sparkled in the sun. It had made me feel like a princess.
I recalled the butterflies in my tummy as I pinned the rosebud crown onto my head of golden curls with trembling hands. Mam had lent me a sky-blue pendant, which she clipped around my neck.
I remembered the warmth of the sunshine on my face as I rode in the horse-driven carriage with my father to the quaint country church. I remembered friends and neighbours waving with delight. I thought I would burst with happiness.
‘Auntie Louise, are you listening?’ said Sophie.
‘Sorry, darling, what did you say?’ I asked.
‘I was saying we’ve booked the honeymoon,’ she enthused. ‘To the Seychelles – I can’t wait,’ she said, her huge blue eyes twinkling.
I smiled as I finished tying the favours, thinking of the honeymoon we’d booked in St Ives. I’d been excited by the thought of all those romantic walks along the rugged coastline and candlelit meals in restaurants overlooking the sea. Tom would have preferred the Lake District with its mountains and beautiful lakes, but I had thought it might rain every day.
I glanced outside and the sky had suddenly darkened to an ominous slate grey. ‘It looks like rain,’ I murmured. Shuddering I got up to close the window.
I bit into one of the almond confections. It was hard and its sweet coating suddenly turned to an acrid taste in my mouth. A tear slid down my cheek. My eyelids fluttered as I remembered as clearly as if it had happened today, not over twenty years ago. I recalled my brother’s solemn face as we stood in the church porch festooned with flowers and he whispered into my ear. I remember that aching feeling in my heart as I dropped my bouquet of delicate white roses and orange blossom as he informed me that the groom would not be attending - he’d changed his mind.