Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 9

A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?

The last banana! The end of the trail! The Grand Finale! Here's where Mack learns whether she can put on the white dress without flipping out. If you've been waiting till the end to start reading, here are the links to Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 -  Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8. Check 'em out and then come back, okay?

Mack's been cast to play a bridesmaid in an equity-waiver production of "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", but at the last minute she's upgraded to the role of Brittney, The Bride. It's a tough gig for a woman with a wedding phobia, especially since her boyfriend Joe's not around to talk her off the ledge.Or is he....?

The Play – Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Bachelorette’s Adventure

Director: Dusty Squires
Assistant to the Director: Donald Loudemilk

Brittney (the bride): Mackenzie Reed
Mara (the maid of honor): Geneva Louise
Kenley (the bride’s sister): Dusty Squires
Caitlyn (the bridesmaid): Cheyenne Miller
Salvatore (the stripper): Julio Lorenze
Pete (the groom): Julio Lorenze

There were way too many people for a dress rehearsal. I walked slowly, keeping time with Here Comes the Bride and trying not to trip over my hem or stare blatantly at the crowd. Some of the faces were familiar, theater people, friends and acquaintances.

Julio stood with his back to me, facing an imaginary pastor. Or priest. Maybe a shaman. I could be flexible. I kept moving forward, looking from Dusty, to Cheyenne, to my new friend Geneva. They smiled like they would at a real bride. Well, Cheyenne smiled at me when she wasn’t glancing over at Dusty. All the people in the audience had turned in their seats to watch my progress, the rustle of their clothes and squeaks from the chairs barely audible over the trumpet and organ blasting out of the sound system.

The crew had constructed a set of risers that were sturdier than anything else in the building. I just had to navigate the four steps up and act out my wedding—in front of a crowd of people. I was good with that.

When I got to the center stage, the music quieted and a hush fell over the room. Geneva reached out and snatched the bouquet from my hand. I barely noticed, because Julio was turning around.

And he was Joe.

Though it wasn’t in the script, I threw myself into his arms.

“Hey Mackie.”

“You’re an idiot,” I whispered into his ear.

“Love you too, babe.”

I found his lips with mine and neither of us spoke for a while. Even though he had only been gone two weeks, I was sure two lifetimes had passed since I’d seen him last. His salty-spearmint taste and the softness of his rowdy curls under my fingertips helped loosen something in me that had been tied up in knots ever since he left.

I was barely aware of the applause around me. When the noise finally sank in, I stepped back. The other actors onstage were all wrapped in sparkling smiles. Candi appeared with an arm around Dusty’s shoulders, and Julio was off to the side in his jeans and white chaps, clapping wildly. Even Donald had come down from the light board and was grinning up at us from the apron of the stage. Joe brought my attention back to him by putting a hand under my chin.

“Now this isn’t just some practical joke, Mackie,” he said, projecting so he could be heard in the back of the hall.

Oh. Crap. He was going to propose.

“You said you wouldn’t ask me again.”

He dropped down on one knee with a lipstick-smeared grin on his face that nailed me in the heart. “I lied.”


He wrapped up my hand in his. “Mackenzie Lynn Reed, will you marry me?”

“No shit?”


“Wait. You have to stand up.”


“Just stand up, okay?”

Joe stood, his devilish smile a mix of humor and exasperation.

I reached for his hands, interlacing our fingers and holding his eyes with mine. “Yes, Joseph Timothy McBride, I will marry you.” I tugged his hands toward my waist and, without much more encouragement, I was back in his arms. This time the applause around us was much louder.

It turned out Joe told Dusty he’d be able to come home for the weekend and wanted to surprise me. Their original plan was to interrupt the wedding rehearsal with an impromptu engagement. They were still working out the details when Candi got the commercial, giving Dusty the brilliant idea of casting me as Brittney. After that, things had all fallen into place.
And I was right. The whole theater was full of other carneys, friends of ours who worked in television and movies. They’d planned the mother of all engagement parties for right after the show. Joe told me privately my text message wedding-talk had actually been more effective than I’d known, prompting him to buy the antique diamond and ruby ring he saw in a New Orleans shop. It has three stones—a ruby for our past, a ruby for our future, and a lovely round diamond for right now. It’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.

So now I’m planning a real wedding. Candi will be a bridesmaid and so will Geneva. Cheyenne’s in charge of hair and make-up and I’ve asked my friend Shauna to come down from Seattle to be my maid of honor. If her infant daughter were a little older, Joe and I would make her our flower girl. However, after so many years we don’t want to wait long enough for her to learn to walk. And all this wedding planning has given me a bunch of new ideas. I’m totally going to write a musical version of Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Bachelorette’s Adventure. I’ll call it Bachelorette! And someone else will play the bride.

 I really appreciate all of you who have followed along and I hope you enjoyed Mack's latest adventure. Thanks very much!