The Night After the Wedding...

...she slept with an old lover. They did not sleep. He was not actually in her bed, but present in her dreams, the entire night it seemed.  He was softer natured than he had been, older, and the voice she had liked so much had become a little weaker, with regret, perhaps. Skin still freckled, hair still curly, though decades had passed. He was guiding her somewhere, hand at her elbow, like the polite fellow he had sometimes been. They talked and talked, and the conversation did not end but only stopped when she woke. Dreams are dreams and you cannot will them back.

It had been a perfect wedding. Two people so sure of themselves and each other, more than happy to be taking this next step. Already planning children, for whom they are also excited. And a dog.

Everyone beautifully dressed. The couple, the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom. In random rooms all over the site of the wedding weekend, people were sponging, ironing, straightening, hanging out to air. Clothes are an important part of the wedding culture. The white dress, of course, which is common in cultures other than western. It is rare for a first time bride not to choose one, no matter the state of her virginity. In China, though, traditional weddings start with the bride in red, for luck. Only later may she change into white. Or not. In some countries, it is the tradition for men to wear white, too, such as in the Phillipines and Yemen. And shoes come into it. In Pakistan, men have to pay up if they want to keep their shoes. After a Pakistani wedding, the couple returns home for a ceremony called the "showing of the face." Family and friends hold a green shawl over the couple's heads and a mirror as the bride removes the veil she wears throughout the wedding ceremony. While the newlyweds are busy gazing at one another, the bride's female relatives make off with the groom's shoes.

Nothing like that happened at the wedding the dreamer attended. But, shortly after she had arrived for the weekend's festivities, while chatting with the father of the bride, a few drops of red wine splashed onto her good white shirt. Everyone had theories. Salt, soda water, white wine. Blot it, soak it. She tried everything, with some degree of success, but the stain remained visible. This is what happens. She changed into a darker shirt, yet the stain removal conversation continued each time a new arrival heard the story. By the next day, the long awaited day itself, people were no longer offering theories, but only remarking on how funny it was that there had been so many theories. Then attention turned to the main event.