As soon as I took a sip, I realized it was poison. Ha! And here I thought that by now, half-past six that is, I was finally going to be a very much alive, married woman.
I don’t mean to brag (I wasn’t raised by those snobby sirens, thank you very much), but my wedding was fabricated to make Cinderella’s ball look like a mere toad gathering. No fairy godmother or witch could have accomplished the feat, but Leon easily could. Jumping jitterbugs! He could turn the moon into a plate simply by flaring that unearthly smile up at it.
And here I was, looking into that smile that I now see is as poisonous as the liquor I just downed, if not more deadly.
“Will you take this woman to be your wife?” neighed Pauline, the pegasus priest next to us.
I really need to start listening to what Jeni tells me. I set the crystal down on the altar with a trembling hand, the poison igniting a fuel in my chest. I opened my mouth to scream, but the poison stole it. She was right.
Because before the wedding, I was alone with him. I let him pour the wine to be drunk before the final vows. He even picked and squeezed the grapes with his bare hands into his family’s crystal glasses.
“Yes,” Leon declared.
I should have listened to what Jeni told me.
“And do you…”
I have little time left and I do not intend on wasting it. Should I figure out why he did this? Certainly, if I was going to live longer. Cure? Probably isn’t one. Revenge?
Well, I will guarantee that.
“…take this man to be your husband?”
WEDNESDAY before the SUNDAY
“Oh, Jeni! Yoo-hoo!” I trilled as I found my favorite cousin eating at the table. “I have something to tell you!”
She arrived home late last night, the dragons were angrier than usual and were a wee problem. “Guess what!”
“Hmmm, you wouldn’t happen to be getting married, Lili, now would you?” She chuckled. Engagements were trending these days.
“Yes!” She choked on an olive pit. Our gnome started beating her furiously on the back until the pit sailed over our heads. “Ugh! Elle told you, didn’t she?” That slimy sphynx.
Jeni threw a plate at me. “I leave you alone for two months, mind you only TWO, and you manage TO GET ENGAGED?” I ducked the plate. Who knew she could be so jealous.
“Yes, I got engaged rather quickly, but as I like to say, cousin dear: When it’s love at first sight, the ring is always nearby,” I ducked an airborne chair.
“You’re eighteen! The youngest possible to be married!” Jeni yelled.
“Exactly! This should be praised!” I yelled back. I just missed the flying table.
After a long spiel of yelling and Dodge the Flying Everything with that madwoman, Jeni sank down, “You never wasted a second of life, did you?”
Jeni’s face was as white as the wedding dress she was fitting me into.
“You look as if a witch cursed you,” I said.
“Lili, my darling, I’ve been cursed the day men saw your beauties,” She yanked on my corset.
“Ouch! Anyways, we both very well know that I would have simply gotten married sooner if you tried to stop me,” she pulled harder. “Ow! What’s the verdict, speaking of the one?”
“Typical prince-like handsome. Reeks of his family’s inheritance. Has brains full of phoenix poo.”
“He passed!” I jumped up and almost ripped my veil.
“Look at me Lili,” Jeni turned me to face her. “Do you love him?”
I took Jeni’s hand and whispered, “He’s captured my soul like a fox catches a bird with a broken wing.”
Jeni’s face contorted as if her soul were being sucked. “I’m begging you, if I ever meant anything to you, listen to me now,” I waited. “Do not marry Leon tomorrow.”
I exhaled, “Jeni, I need to live. I need to live the life our parents didn’t have because they hid from Fate, but fate came knocking anyway and it killed them. I need to live for me and our family,”
She opened her mouth, then sighed, “I know.”
Everything spun in circles. The rings twisted on our fingers, Leon spun me in a circle, the people danced in circles, the room spun in a circle.
I hate circles.
So I dragged Leon outside in a straight line.
He probably didn’t expect me to carry a weapon the day I was getting married, that bloody banshee. I spun towards him, knife in hand, his devilish grin falling upside down. He died along with everyone else in my life.
“I begged you not marry him, Elizabeth,” Jeni said. “I couldn’t warn you because it stopped me, and I couldn’t stop it from poisoning you,”
“I’ve been cursed the day men saw your beauties…”
“Jenivere, I thought you escaped it.” I was breathing more slowly.
“I leave you alone for two months…”
“I thought you escaped the curse,” I felt tears rain down my cheeks, no more alive than Leon or Jeni.
“Fate came knocking anyway…”
“Your curse ended when I died, but I was bound to your body until mine was lifted,” Jeni whispered from my head. “I couldn’t fight it, Lili. I would have died again then do what we did. ” Something heavy left my chest, and Jeni was gone.
“…like a fox catches a bird with a broken wing…”
I understand now. My family was the fox. They greedily caught what should’ve been saved. Jeni and I were forced to be the fox, to kill the innocent.
But I can avenge the bird.
“I killed him,” I held my wrists together as they were bound, and I felt the Fates’ smile evaporating my poison.
I suppose I’m not a married woman yet, but I’ve never lived better. Yes, even behind these rather rusty bars.