'Meeting the Family' by Angi Holden

Remember it? That moment when you introduced your new partner to your family? If you were lucky it was an informal meeting, a quiet drink at the pub, or a meal at the Italian on the corner of Market Street. Yeah, well luck never was my buddy. Toss a coin and call heads, and I can guarantee the bugger would have two tails.
            So it was a wedding. Cousin Sarah, you know the one: blonde, buxom and onto her third husband before she was thirty. Even then got married in white lace. I didn’t want to go, but the lass said it was a good opportunity to get the introductions over, everyone on a goodwill kick and all. Well, as I said, she’d not met the family at that stage.
            So there I was, togged up in this bloody suit that I hadn’t worn for five years and hadn’t bothered to try on till the night before. Nobody would notice the extra few pounds, so long as I didn’t button up the jacket. And anyway, people would be looking at the lass, dolled up in her finery. For a girl who lives in jeans and sweatshirts, she looks pretty fine in a skirt. It was Mum who spotted us first.
            ‘This your Jenna?’ she asked, grasping her by the wrist and leaving a red mark like a handcuff.
            ‘Jemma,’ said Jemma.
            ‘Come and meet Jenna, everybody,’ Mum called. ‘Our Michael’s new girl.’
            ‘Jemma,’ said Jemma. But even she didn’t sound too convinced.
            The ushers were ushering by then, trying to get everyone into the church before the bride arrived. They weren’t too efficient; they’d had plenty of practice but it was a good job cousin Sarah was always late for her weddings.
            ‘She’d be late for her own funeral, that one,’ muttered Dad. He hadn’t had a fag for ten minutes and was already getting fidgety.
            ‘Shh! Have a bit of respect. She’ll be getting upset over the dog, I reckon,’ said Mum. Jemma looked at me and raised an eyebrow. I was just about to say ‘Don’t ask!’ when Mum explained that Cousin Sarah had always had her St Bernard as a bridesmaid. A big fancy bow around its neck and its fur blow-waved for the occasion.
            ‘Bloody waste if you ask me,’ said Dad. ‘A barrel of whisky would be better that a bow. Still, it’s dead now, so we haven’t got that to look forward to.’
And then the wedding march started up, and in walks the bride, towing a kiddie's truck, with this blasted stuffed dog balanced on top, bow and all.
Well, I told Jemma later that she might have got away with laughing, cus she wasn’t the only one, like. But she should have made something up when Grandma asked her over the wedding breakfast what she did for a living. Teacher, shop assistant, accountant. Anything would have done except the truth. Nobody likes a taxidermist, after all.

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