Bride in Black
Georgina stood in front of her full-length mirror. Her long, black wedding dress practically swept the floor. Her fiancée picked this dress out for her. In fact, he planned this whole wedding. No church or fancy this. Just them at the courthouse, signing a marriage license. Georgina only went along with it to keep him happy. She was marrying a difficult man.
She pressed her caramel-painted lips. No point of just standing around here. She clutched her white roses in her hand and walked out the door. The taxi was parked at the end of the driveway, waiting for her. Georgina drew in a deep breath and walked up to the black and red vehicle. The cab driver looked at her with his worn, tan, leather face.
“You Georgina Limbert?” he asked. The bride nodded nervously.
“Yes, that’s me,” she said. Georgina opened the cab door and climbed into the back seat. The worn leather and smell of week old vodka didn’t settle her nerves any better. The driver looked at her through the rear view mirror.
“Where to, miss?” he asked. Georgina pressed her lips together as she felt her throat begin to tighten.
“To the courthouse,” she replied.
The taxi driver raised an eyebrow at her. “No church wedding?”
Georgina shook her head. “No, he decided on a marriage license.”
“I see.” The cab driver started up the taxi and pulled away. Georgina looked at the London suburbs she lived in with her fiancée’s family. It always looked the same, day after day. She should be happy, right? The driver looked at the bride through the rear mirror again.
“So who’s the lucky man?” he spoke up. Georgina kept her gaze out the window at the moving scenery.
“Hm?” she asked.
“Who are you marrying?” the driver asked again. The bride didn’t answer at first.
“Oh,” she said. “Tre Sutherland.” The driver gave her a low whistle.
“Wow!” he said. “You’re marrying into big family.”
“You don’t seem too happy about that.”
Georgina looked over at him with a puzzled look. “What do you mean?”
“You don’t really want to get married, do you?”
“What are you talking about, of course I do!”
“No, you don’t. I can tell.” Georgina went pale and quiet. It was true; it was more like Tre wanted to get married. She didn’t know what she wanted. Her black painted nails caressed along the white rose petals.
They drove out of the neighborhood in silence. The driver tapped his silver wedding brand against the steering wheel.
“So what is Tre like?” he asked. “I’ve only heard about him from the papers.” Georgina felt her stomach sloshing around as she tried to think of how to answer that.
“Well…” she said. “He’s…” Short-tempted? Controlling? Demanding? Intimidating?
“He gets angry… a lot.”
The bride nodded. “Yeah…” The rest of the drive was in silence. Georgina looked out the window at the moving scenery of downtown London. She was going to be married soon. All to make Tre happy. The cab pulled up to the courthouse. Georgina sat up and was about ready to reluctantly get to married when the driver drove past the building. The bride looked out the window, confused.
“Hey! What are you doing?” she asked as she waved her arms, frantically. “Stop the cab!”
“Saving you from a bad decision!” the driver replied as they sped away from the courthouse.
“My fiancée is waiting for me!” Georgina cried.
“He’ll have to wait!”
The bride sat back and sighed. “Why did you do that for?”
“You don’t really want this.”
“Yes, I do!”
“No, you don’t. I can tell by your tone and demeanor.” Georgina went silent again. Who was this guy? The courthouse disappeared out of view behind them.
“Where are you taking me?” the bride asked as she began to fear that she was being the victim of a kidnapping by a deranged nutter.
“Nowhere,” the driver answered. “You and I are just taking a little drive and talking like two civilized human beings.” Georgina’s stomach did another flip-flop. More like Hannibal Lector with one of his victims. But, what could she do? He was the one with the wheel and she was in the back seat. Maybe… she could call somebody. But then again, Tre would think this was an excuse to get out of getting married. That last thing she needed was for him to hurl more abuse at her on their big day.
“Tell me more about Tre,” the driver spoke up. Georgina looked at him.
“Hm?” she asked.
“Tell me all about Tre Sutherland,” her captive said. The bride began to panic.
“Look, Tre and his family are really rich! They can pay you whatever amount of money you want!” she pleaded. The driver raised an eyebrow at her.
“Pay me?” he asked. “I don’t want their money. What do you think this is, a kidnapping?”
The driver smiled and shook his head. “Nah, that’s too much trouble. I will let you out at the courthouse as soon as you answer my questions.”
“Good. Now, tell me all about Tre Sutherland.” The cab passed a chapel. A man and his boyfriend were getting married today. It took them many years to get to this point. Their problems mainly consisted of mixed feelings, their families’ disapproval, and bitter public opinion. The couple nearly broke up at one point. But, they managed to rise above to have this beautiful ceremony today with all of their friends and families. The man and his boyfriend vowed to honor, love, and care for each other through sickness and in health until death do them part. The man slid the ring on his boyfriend’s finger and kissed him on the lips.
“Tre is hard for me to describe,” Georgina finally broke down.
“How so?” the driver asked.
The bride bit her lip as she gathered up the words together in her head. “Well… he gets angry easily. Mostly at me…”
“Angry at you? Why would he get angry at a pretty woman like you?”
The pearl beads in her black veil bounced as the bride shook her head. “It’s hard for me to say, really. Maybe because we came from different backgrounds.”
“What makes you say that?”
The bride shrugged her bare shoulders. “I can’t really remember my past very well. But, I know that I am a Catholic-Jew.”
“Catholic-Jew, huh? Like the ones during the Blood Reign Days?”
“Yes…” Georgina went quiet. Despite most of her past being blank, she could still hear the screams and cries of back then. Some much hatred and blood during that twenty-eight year period. Everyone in England seemed to pretend that that period in their history never happened. Most of the victims were dead with the time. The ones that survived, like Georgina, repressed those memories as they grew up to try and live a normal life.
“So how did a poor lamb like yourself end up involved with the Sutherland family?” the driver asked as he turned right into another neighborhood. Georgina came back out of her thoughts.
“Sorry?” she asked.
“How did you get involved with the Sutherland family?” he asked again.
The bride gave him a soft smile. “It’s kind of a funny story, really.” The cab passed the park. A girl of fifteen sat on a park bench with a dark blue stroll by her side. Inside, her three week old son lied asleep. He was a reminder of a bad mistake she made nine months ago. The girl thought she had found her soul mate in a boy that was a grade and year older than she was. She didn’t really think much about losing her virginity to him; she was only sleeping with someone she loved. Needless to say, their wild nights in bed led to a little pink plus sign. The boy said that he would stay with her through the whole pregnancy. About seven months in, it all came unraveled. He dumped her for another girl and she gave birth alone. The young mother’s parents helped out begrudgingly, but it just wasn’t enough. She sat back on the bench wondering how her life would’ve turned out if she had chosen to wait.
“I was on the streets when I was fourteen,” Georgina explained as she looked at the London life outside the moving window. “I don’t think I have any living relatives then and now. I was just on my own. I kept coming and going out of homeless shelters all over London. Then one day, I met this beautiful boy. He took me into his house and I have been with him and his family ever since.”
“You don’t sound too happy about that,” the driver said.
Georgina shrugged her shoulders again. “The family is okay. They provided me with the basic needs. His mother even treated like his own daughter.”
“And times were good then?”
“Tre’s parents died four years ago and he became head of the family.”
“And that’s when he started to become angry with you?”
“Yeah…” Georgina’s mind got lost on the past four years. She couldn’t remember a day when Tre didn’t yell at her or call her “stupid,” “bitch,” or “cow.” His younger sister, Alicia, wasn’t helping matters either. She never did like Georgina from the beginning. It might have been the bride’s imagination, but Alicia seemed to have borderline incestuous feelings for Tre. She constantly chased away his girlfriends. So it was easy to imagine her dislike rising even more when she found out that her brother and Georgina were getting married.
“So why are you getting married?” the driver asked.
“Uh…” the bride said as she looked out the window again. She spotted the courthouse again. This time, one of Tre’s close friends stood on the steps, probably looking for Georgina. The bride flagged the driver again.
“Stop the cab!” she cried.
“We’re not done talking,” the driver told her.
“But, I have to get married!”
“I told you you’re not getting married today. So don’t ask me to stop the cab again, am I clear?”
“Because you don’t want to!”
“Yes, I do!”
“Stop telling yourself that lie! You don’t want to get married. Just admit it and come clean with yourself!” Georgina clutched her bouquet as she sat back in her seat. The taxi pulled away from the courthouse again. They passed another car in the intersection. A white English man was kissing on an Indian woman. They looked at the cab as if to ask Georgina and the driver, “You’re judging us because of our relationship?” The man and his girlfriend had long stopped caring about what others thought of their relationship. The lovers were scared at first to pursue it because of the judgment that could follow. But they soon came to learn that they can’t control their feelings for each other. From there, they embarked on an intimate-romantic relationship. Despite it being an uphill battle, the couple stayed together for the sweet rewards at the end of each day.
“As I was asking,” the driver spoke up as he turned into another neighborhood. “Why are you getting married again? And don’t say because you want to, because we both know that’s a lie!”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Answer my question first.”
Georgina sighed. Something told her that she wasn’t going to get out of the cab anytime soon. So, she might as well humor the man while he’s holding her hostage. “Fine, this is more of Tre’s idea.”
“That’s better. Now, you’re starting to be really honest here.”
The bride forced herself to keep talking. “He purposed at dinner in a Chinese Restaurant one night and I said yes.”
“Even though you didn’t want to?”
Georgina pushed her blonde hair behind her ears. “What else could I do? I didn’t want him to get mad at me.”
“So this is all just to humor him?”
“I don’t know, I guess.”
“But what do you want?”
Georgina eyed him in a strange way. “What?”
“What do you yourself want?” Georgina took another moment to think about that. They passed a beautiful white brick house. A girl stood on perfectly manicured lawn with a seven month pregnant sixteen-year-old girl. She made her mistake months ago. She and her boyfriend had a stressful love-hate relationship. The sex was just as passionate as their fights. The last time they fought proved that too well. Now, she was stuck paying for it. The girl and her boyfriend hadn’t spoken to each other since she broke the news. They saw each other at school, but they just couldn’t talk.
The bride shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“Do you love Tre?” the driver asked. Georgia couldn’t answer that one at all.
“It’s not like that!”
“Then what is it like?” The bride bit her lip again. She didn’t know how to answer any of those questions. Did she really love Tre? Nine years of living in the Sutherland house. The family had provided her with plenty of needs and comforts. She never complained. Better than being out on the streets. Tre was nice to her until his parents died. Now, it was just a game of keeping Tre happy, no matter what. But what about her happiness? What did she want? Did she really love Tre after all of those years?
The cab passed a pretty yellow house. Inside, a young couple was lying in bed. They were about Georgia’s age, maybe a bit younger. The woman and her boyfriend had no plans to get married at all. Their relationship went all the way without tying the knot. Sure, everyone around them criticized them for sleeping together before marriage. But, what did they care? The woman lightly caressed her bloke’s cheek. She gently kissed him on the tip of his nose.
“I love you baby,” she whispered to his sleeping face. The cab came to the courthouse again. This time, the driver stopped. Georgina looked around her.
“Why did we stop?” she asked.
“You are getting married as you claim, right?” he asked. The bride looked out the window. Tre, Alicia, and the witnesses were looking at the cab, trying to see if it was her. Georgina turned back to the driver.
“Am I?” she asked. The driver glanced over at her in his rear view mirror.
“Up to you,” he replied. The bride paused for a long moment. She finally sank down in the back seat.
“Keep going,” she mumbled.
“You sure?” the driver asked.
“Yes,” Georgina said in a small voice.
The driver shrugged. “Okay.” The taxi pulled away and turned left this time.
“Change your mind?”
“I don’t want to get married!”
“No! I don’t love Tre. He’s good, but he’s not the man I liked and respected. I don’t even like this dress he bought me.”
“So what are you going to do?”
Georgina shook her head. “I don’t know…” The cab passed a brown stone house in another neighborhood. In the bathroom of this house, a sixteen-year-old girl looked at her pregnant test in her hand. Three weeks ago, she and her boyfriend did it for the first time. However, pleasure never comes without a price. The girl was learning that rather quickly. A few days ago, she started feeling sick. When she began throwing up, she knew it was a problem. So this morning, she bought a pregnancy test. Now, it was time to face the results.
The girl slowly looked down after three minutes. Pregnant. Her eyes widened as her greatest fears were confirmed.
Next door, a woman was giving her elderly mother her medication. The old lady gave her a cold, burning glare. This wasn’t her choice. Her daughter and arrogant son-in-law put her on medication after her health began to slide down the scales. The old woman wanted to protest this decision. But what could she do? These young people just want to drug us and put us away! But what could she do? Her daughter was in control, not her. The younger woman smiled she handed her mother the red and blue pills from the bottle.
It was probably a good thing that Georgina didn’t get out of the cab. Close to five in the evening, a taxi pulled up to courthouse. Instead of the bride herself, a young woman in black came out with .45 caliber in her hands. Ten gun shots broke the London silence. The gay couple and the girl in the park heard the shots in the air as they looked up. The interracial couple and the pregnant girl in her lawn saw the cab with the woman in black speeding away from the courthouse. The old lady, the sixteen-year-old girl, and the young couple saw the assassination on the news in their homes. Georgina and the cab driver pulled up to the courthouse and saw the massacre from the steps. The bride sank down in her seat again. Something told her that Tre’s death ripped open an old monster.
Shots Rang Out, the Police Came