First and Only Destiny
First and Only Destiny by Gloria Silk
North London, June 1995
Leaving the tomb-like silence of the Rolls Royce, Lia gripped the heavy skirt of her imprisoning wedding dress, while accepting the stooping, old man’s help to brave the summer downpour.
The big, bat-like umbrella over them absorbed the mini bullets of the rain, turning the pure white of her gown to gunmetal grey.
Was it sunrise or sunset? She did not know or care. The universe had lost all colour and warmth.
Her feet and heart refused to cooperate as the old man tightened his embrace around her and urged her toward the arched doors of the imposing granite-grey building ahead of them.
A familiar magnetic pull made her turn her head to look over her shoulder, across the road. Lips trembling under the stifling veil, she saw the soaking, unshaven, Devraj standing by his car.
She felt his agony, heard his thoughts, How can you throw away your life, our destiny? Please come back to me!
But the sleek, dark river of the London street may as well have been oceans separating them, like a chasm of culture neither could overcome.
Even if this was her biggest mistake, he had to see her enter the house of her God.
Suddenly, thunder reverberated above them. She turned away from the love of her life. Her first love was an illusion and a part of her past, now. He had to be.
Look forward, not back.
“Love will come, you’ll see. Howard will make you happy.” Her grandmother’s mantra over the past endless weeks had almost made Lia want to scream that it would only make her grandparents happy. But… here she was, still walking in the opposite direction from Devraj. For his own sake.
Whether or not he ever forgave her, one day she would be proud of her strength and sacrifice.
Tears streaming down her face, she forced her legs up the stairs into the dimness. The cool, musty scent of the traditions ingrained into the spirit of the synagogue made her shiver.
Faces of curious strangers watched her advance towards the waiting bridegroom. The high jewel-tone stained-glass windows, to which generations of proud families had contributed, seemed about to shatter in on her. And, as every hesitant step led her closer to the man at the end of the aisle, his patent happiness made her steps falter, and she wanted to shout, it’s a lie; you know nothing about me!
She almost stumbled, but Dedda supported her. The nightmare continued.
But this was her destiny, not the heart-broken, young man out in the rain.
Statue-still, she lowered her burning eyes behind the veil. If Devraj ran up that aisle, demanding he was her rightful soul mate, would she flee with him? No!
Sucking in a shaky breath, she prayed for strength from the same God who had gifted—and then snatched away—an alternate, impossible future.
Anchoring her limbs, she swore to be the perfect wife to the smiling man beside her. She was not marrying him for her grandparents, but for a much bigger reason.
Or—she raised her head, heart pounding—she could grab the long train of her white dress as restrictive as armour, and escape into the arms of her one and only true love.
She took another fortifying breath.
Her fingers unfurled from their fists like opening petals.
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