Life is an ocean of dreams you wade through as each step leads you closer to death. Xola had heard this said many times but had never felt it as clearly as when he walked down the aisle. This was supposed to be the special day but he couldn’t help but feel slightly hesitant. He was about to sign over his entire life to another person. Marriage is binding and he would have to devote himself to her and her only. Could he do this? Could he be the man she wanted and desperately needed?
It was ok when they were dating, but marriage meant he gave his word and promised to always be her one. He didn’t know if he could. Looking to the left as he walked down the churches isle he looked at her family and to the right was his family. Both sides were hopeful for a future he could not guarantee. His future in-laws wanted a son, to treat their daughter well and his family wanted a future daughter who would treat their son as the man they all thought he was.
“I am not the man either side thinks, I am. I am not as smart as they think, I am not as good as they believe. I am not as faithful as she thinks I am. How can I take this step if I doubt these core values? I am a man and as such I must do as I promised. I just wish I had not promised as much.”
In the bride’s room, the scene was chaotic. Bridesmaids were running around trying to fulfill every whim the bride had. They did not know that her greatest whim was not to be in that dress about to take that plunge, about to become Mrs. Mzimkhulu. When she had first gone on a date with him it had been on a dare, she had never thought things would go this far. He was supposed to have been the man who helped her get over her ex, and then disappear into the bag of forgotten ex and those sexual partners no girl ever admits to having. She was supposed to be getting to know her future husband, not getting married to a man who couldn’t even admit he needed help with maintaining his nucleus family.
“Brenda, do you think this is a good idea?” She asked her maid of honor.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t have gone for frills if I were you but I am not. I am still single and looking.” Brenda answered.
No. I don’t mean the dress, I mean the wedding” She never used to get annoyed when Brenda acted stupid but today was different. After today they would never be the same. Brenda would still be her friend. But single friends never lasted long around married couples. Either they tried to sleep with a spouse or they stopped having anything in common.
“I am going to miss you,” She said.
“Girl, please. I know your theory but I will always be there and your man ain’t cute enough to risk losing a sister. Now shut up and give me your leg, This garter won’t put itself on.” Brenda said.
“And remember just cause I am going that high up your thigh I am not Stella” She whispered in Ella’s ear.
“ Hush no one knows about that. And as my MOH I trust you won’t say anything,” said Ella looking around to see if anyone had heard the comment.
Everyone was too busy taking care of last-minute items on their checklists. Xola had made sure everyone knew exactly where they should be.
“ hahaha long as there is a groomsman for me. “
“Girl you know me, Chris is cute and by all accounts, he is a monster in the sack.”
“Says who? Cause if its Xola, he knows nothing. Boys lie to each other all the time.
Three doors down was the wedding hall. The groom and his groomsmen were already at the altar. Chris, Steven, Mzi, and Zola. They had been friends since primary school.
Chris was a sports enthusiast, anything that required running and sweating was his thing. Steven was a devote Christian in the throes of a crisis of faith, brought about by his burgeoning love for a Spaniard who had recently joined his church. Steven couldn’t reconcile Leviticus 20:13 with the earth-shattering joy he received when he received the Spaniard. Mzi was a fully committed hedonist. He had never had a relationship longer than 3 months, no man or woman could ever hold his interest long enough. Zola, on the other hand, had married at 26 and was in the process of starting a family, however, there had been some setbacks resulting in his wife not allowing him access to her treasures
None of them had ever imagined Xola would settle down. He had always been a free spirit and had always shared his love with as many people as would let him. Yet here they were at his wedding. But then Ella was a very special girl. They loved her the moment he had introduced her.
“I hope this one stays, I have a good feeling about her” Steven had said.
“Not with lech that Xola is. Shame she would have been an excellent addition. Wena, iphi eyakho, Stevovo? Mzi had asked.
“Rha, I am not introducing any woman kuni.
The conversation had gone on and on, with more friendly ribbing. Chris, Zola, and Xola had also joined in. But that was typical fair for their weekly soccer match parties.
“I wonder if he is doing ok, He looks a little pekid.” Chris thought as he looked at his friend standing by the priest in his black tuxedo. Usually, he looked good in suits, but today it looked as if the tie was choking him, and the trousers looked like they were restricting blood flow.
“Is he alright?” Chris asked Zola. “I have never seen his this nervous”
“Meh, he is alright, don’t you remember how I looked on my wedding day?”
“I wasn’t there, remember? I had an emergency business trip to Zimbabwe”
“Aw yeah, well you missed me looking I was about to be gang banged by a troupe of elephants. I was frightened. It’s just nerves. Everything will be OK when he sees her walk down to him. The people are coming in, I think things are about to start.”
People were starting to come into the hall. The ushers were directing them to their seats and everything looked like it was going well. Zola had chosen to have the altar was in the center of the room and the pews ran in a semi-circle around it. Every guest was assured an excellent view. It also made the filming easier. Along with the happy couple they had chosen gold and lilac as their color scheme. So the room’s stark white interior was softened by lilac shaded lights. They had wanted a minimalistic wedding so Zola had kept the decorations down to lilacs sewn together with gold thread spread out around the hall. The only break from this theme was the audiovisual island set in the furthest corner from the alter. Zola hadn’t even tried to disguise it, instead, figuring anyone who came to the wedding would understand it was functional and not meant to be aesthetically pleasing.
“I don’t think I can go through with this” Ella said.
“What? Why?” Brenda paused and looked at her friend’s face for the first time. All the movement in the room stopped. Brenda turned around and with a nod dismissed them all. As the maid of honor, this was the moment she had to do her best work.
“Is it cold feet, or do you really not want to do this?”
“I don’t know. I mean I said yes to marrying him, but what was I going to say? He asked me in front of all his friends and family. I couldn’t embarrass him like that?, then I thought we would have a long engagement and I would finally leave my fears behind, but now just 6 months after the engagement, we are here. And I do not know if we are doing the right thing.”
“Is this because of Stella or that thing you had with the guy a year ago?
“No, this has nothing to do with him. We had fun and he was the best fuck of my life, but that’s all he was. As for Stella, Xola and I have an arrangement, you know this. I don’t have to leave Xola for her, and she isn’t asking for that. I just feel wrong. I feel like I made no choices to get to this point. It’s like I blinked when I said yes and then I was here.”
Brenda looked down, her voice softer. She reached for Ella’s hand, then finally looked her in the eyes.
“OK, so here is the question do you love Xola?”
“I don’t know, I guess I do.”
“Please don’t judge me, not you please” Ella’s eyes glistened, her breathing was coming in quick ragged bursts.
“Shhh, no judgment here. I am your friend and all I want is for you to be happy.” Brenda pulled her friend close.
“Now my teary makeup is ruining your dress.”
“Don’t worry about that, Xola made sure everyone brings a second outfit just in case something happens, you know how your man is.”
“And that is what I am marrying into” The tears now flowing freely.
At the altar, Xola had started pacing back and forth. He kept looking at the time. At first, his friends had thought it was just him being time conscious as always. But Steven was starting to get worried. Instead of his normal straight-backed confident walk, Xola’s shoulders were bowed, he kept looking down and his signature “I have it all under control” smile was gone. Something very bad was going to happen.
“Boys we still have 20 minutes before things start, how about we go back to our room and have a quick drink and come back in 15 minutes,” Steven said.
“No, I have to be here, what if something goes wrong,” Xola said.
“Nothing will go wrong, Zola planned this with you, everything is under control.”
After some convincing, they went into the back room, where they had changed into their suits. There was a bottle of champagne ready and iced in the room.
“I figured we may need to have a quick drink before or after the ceremony, so I had them send one-up,” Zola said.
“Xola are you OK? You don’t seem like yourself.” Zola finally addressing the elephant in the room.
“I am ok. I have it all under control”
“Really? Under control like the bar exam or under control like when we went to the Philippines and you woke up on the beach in a dress and panties?”
“ hahaha, those were good times. Still can’t remember that night.”
“That’s not answering the question.”
“I am OK. It’s just that things are moving so fast. I know I planned it all. And I thought I had it well in hand, but I don’t know if I do.”
“Dude that’s just cold feet. I was the same when I got married” Zola said.
“This is not cold feet, this is my brain telling me I am making a mistake. But I don’t know if I can fix it. Everyone is here. Everything is ready and perfect. Ella is amazing, but is she really the one?”
“She is very good for you,” Steven said
“She is good for me, and we are good for each other, but shouldn’t I feel some sort of way about sharing her with Stella?”
“Love comes in many different ways, it’s not always the way we think it will come. The best one can do is just go with what feels right, even if it goes against society, norms or religion.”
“You and Ella have an arrangement about Stella, do you want to go back on that?”Chris asked.
“No, it’s just that when I found out about that affair she had, it felt like someone had taken all my internal organs and put them in a blender. But with Stella, I feel nothing, maybe a little curiosity. But there is no jealousy. I should feel something right?”
“Why did you feel jealous about the guy? Is it cause he is a man and Stella is a woman or is it because she told you about Stella and you had to find out about him?”
“I think its the last one. But either way, I don’t think I should be doing this. I mean it was good in theory and I would be able to check off another item on my list of things to get done. But I don’t know if we should be doing this.”
“Dude you will have to make up your mind. Marriage is not something you tick off on a checklist. If you want to do this we are here, if you don’t we are still here. If anyone has a problem, they can take a long walk off a short pier.”
“But people literally flew all the way here. And our parents are expecting us to do this. There is no turning back now.
“There is if you want to, I’ll be back,” Chris said as he stepped out.
Chris walked down the corridor to the bride’s room. He was about to knock when people started filing out.
“What’s happening?” He asked the seamstress.
“The bride is having cold feet, it’s perfectly normal,” she said.
He was about to knock on the door when he had voices from within. He stood there for a few minutes, listening and then he turned around and went back to the groomsman’s room.
“I have a plan, who has Ella’s phone number.”
“Why? Check my bag.” Xola said.
‘You will see”. Chris got the phone out and called Ella’s phone. Then he gave it to Xola and signaled to the others to step outside.
“What are you doing?” Zola, he can’t speak to her in the shape he is in.
“You will see. She is also in bad shape. They either become stronger together and face it, or they bow to pressure and go on with it. Either way, this is their choice, we can’t do anything.”
They could hear Xola talking through the door, but it was muffled.
“I hope you know what you are doing,” Steven said.
“We will see. He has stopped talking”
Xola opened the door, he was back to his old self. His bow tie was untied and hung from his neck. He had a smile on his face.
“The wedding is postponed.”