By Niara Mae
Onstage is an ornate vanity. In the back a
wedding dress is hung up. The BRIDE walks in,
taking a seat at the vanity.
I’m getting married today. Today is. My wedding day.
She sits there, smiling for a moment.
In a shock of commotion, her wedding party
enters, all women. They bring things in,
chattering a bit too loudly. A few begin to work
on her- one curls her hair, one scrubs at her skin,
another polishes her nails. Her bridesmaids get
prepped as well, having makeup applied, their
hair done. The Bride speaks through it.
He’s great. He’s great, he’s a great man. Really. We met in college. He’d taken a few
years to travel- his family’s like that, they have money like that, ‘take a few years just to
travel’ sort of money. He’d done that, then went to school to study Computer Science.
My major was. I. I studied.
She blinks, surprised.
I can’t. Remember. That’s. Funny.
He was so smart, he knew so much. I could ask him anything and he’d know the answer,
or where to find one. He was older, too, you know, and. I liked that. He just knew more,
he knew so much.
Well. Maybe not. More. He didn’t know more than me, maybe. He just didn’t ask me
much. As much as I asked him about things he didn’t. Ask me much. Ah!
She looks at the person scrubbing her arm. It’s
The woman lets up, and switches sides with the
woman polishing her nails. The Bride watches
them for a moment, a little confused. She looks
at a bridesmaid, whose skin is being scrubbed
red as well.
Doesn’t that hurt?
The bridesmaid shakes her head, smiling. The
others agree. The Bride smiles in response, then
turns back to the vanity.
My mother really believed in soulmates. She used to tell me this story, one of those
Greek mythology ones. How humans had walked around with two faces and four legs
and arms, and how powerful they’d been. So powerful that it made the gods nervous, and
Zeus severed humans, cut them in two. And they always knew they’d been cut in two, so
they walked around, halfway complete, aching for their other part. She said people were
like that, she really believed that. That for a time you really lived your life not being a
whole person, a fulfilled person, until you met your half, and then you became full. You
reach your full potential as a human when you have a partner with you, the right partner.
I remember. It used to really bother me. Thinking that I wasn’t enough for myself, or.
That I couldn’t live life in it’s entirety without another person making it possible for me. I
used to really worry about my potential in life. I’m sure that’s not. How she meant it,
I keep thinking about it. I can’t remember my major, what I studied, I can’t. That’s so.
Strange. I remember how it felt, I really loved it, but I can’t-
The woman doing her hair pulls suddenly, and her neck is yanked back. The Bride cries out,
but calms down as she shushes her, combs
through her hair gently. A moment, as The
Bride calms down. Then, to the woman:
What’re you doing to my hair?
She doesn’t answer.
I realized. I don’t know what it’ll look like. I’m not even sure I remember what the dress
She laughs, although it’s not funny.
They say most girls dream of their wedding, that they plan for years. I never did that. I
don’t think most girls do, although there’s nothing wrong with it. I just think they have
more exciting things to plan or dream about, when they know about them. About other
But I did always. I always thought I’d have my curls, my natural hair. My mother permed
it, up until I took over, in high school. It was just. It was fried, really brittle, dry. I cut it
all off, grew it out, went through the awkward phase when you don’t know what products
to use or how to style it. I didn’t even know how to braid, could barely twist it. But by the
time I got to college I’d figured it out, I really. I really loved it. I was really proud.
There is smoke, as the woman curls her hair.
Her skin’s being scrubbed raw. Her nails are
clipped, too short. In the back, her bridesmaids
laugh and talk, admiring themselves, getting
dressed. The Bride smiles through it all.
My Dad said, once. When I first cut it off, he said. Something about how guys want
something to run their hands through. So. When I got a guy, I just. Thought about that.
I thought it’d be curls. Or maybe. Braids, long, down my back.
The women take a step back, done working on
her. They pull her out her seat, positioning her,
and then begin putting the dress on her. It’s
form fitting, highlighting her curves. She looks
good, even with her skin red and scratched, and
her hair fried. They button her up in the back,
zip her up on the sides. Someone slides her feet
into some heels. That’s weird, isn’t it? To not know what you studied. You spend years on something, and
for it to just. Leave you, like that. It’s weird, it’s strange. I can’t remember it, or what I
wanted to do with it, with my degree.
I remember. My mother, when I was young, I’d come home from school and she was
always. She was always there, for whoever came through the door, she was ready. And I
loved that, as a kid, but then you get older, and you come in later, and she’s still there,
and I didn’t. At some point I knew I didn’t want to be waiting for someone else, I wanted.
I wanted someone to wait for me, and some days I’d still, I’d wait for them, but. I
couldn’t imagine what it must be like for her, in the moments between us leaving and
coming back in. I’m sure she was happy, she wasn’t the sort of person who’d stay in
something if it didn’t please her. That must’ve been what being a fulfilled, a whole
person was for her, that’s what it meant. Being ready for when someone came through
She tries to take in a deep breath.
But I knew. For me, it wasn’t. It couldn’t be. It.
Her breathing is off, although she doesn’t
notice, as she realizes something.
I. I don’t. What was. My mother’s name, I can’t. Remember, I don’t.
With a final zip, the women step back, their job
done. She has trouble moving too much, or
trying to breathe.
This is really. Tight. Was it always…?
Someone brings her a bouquet. She takes it, but
flinches, almost dropping it. She holds up a
hand. She’s bleeding.
Are there. Thorns, in this? I’m. I can’t-
Someone makes sure she’s holding it tightly, with both hands. She holds on.
Behind her, another woman begins putting the
veil on her. She has some trouble securing it in her hair.
Ah, wait, hold. Hold on. Maybe-
A bit harshly, she gets it in. The Bride cries out. Some blood trickles down her face. A hand goes
up to her hair but she doesn’t touch, not wanting
to ruin it. She holds the bouquet again,
accidentally staining the flowers.
She’s ready. She looks lovely. Blood drips
steadily down, to the floor, staining her dress,
her flowers. Her bridesmaids stand around her,
smiling at her. Their skin is red, like hers. Their
hands bleed as well, gripping their bouquets. A
standstill. The Bride’s disoriented.
I’m twenty five. That’s. Twenty five.
I think I’d do. Anything. To become a full person.
The sound of wedding music eases in, rising up
and building over time. Her bridesmaids fall
into their positions as the Groom enters, smiling
broadly. The Bride is distracted, looking around,
trying to speak to her bridesmaid.
Do you. Is my mother here, is she. Can you tell me, is she here, or, or my father, is he.
Are they here, do you see them, I don’t. I can’t remember, their, their names, or. What they look like, why-
The Groom takes her hands in his, still holding
the bouquet. She focuses in on him, calming.
He cups her face, smearing blood on her cheek.
You have. Nice eyes, kind eyes.
Behind them, the bridesmaids and groomsmen
prepare the space. The two don’t notice, caught
up in each other.
Have you. Have you seen my parents, are they here-
They are. They’re there, in the front row, see? She doesn’t look, staying focused on him.
Ok. That’s. Good. I was, I got. Scared.
She smiles. A breathless laugh.
We’re getting married today.
A large table has been brought into the space. A
spool of red thread somewhere in the back. The
bridesmaids begin easing the Bride onto the
table, as the groomsmen do the same to the
Groom. They’re pressed close together.
Someone readies the thread, a needle.
Do you. Do you remember my major, what I studied-
Psychology. You wanted to become a therapist, eventually.
Did I? Did I do it?
Not yet, but. You will.
The officiant steps up, clearing their throat.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today….
They continue on, the ceremony beginning. The
Bride and Groom don’t notice as the thread is
sewn into them, connecting them. They stay in
with each other, talking softly, as blood runs
down the table and the Officiant speaks. Fade
Niara Mae is a playwright, actress and director from the Washington, D.C. area. Most recently, she’s written for Here We Go’s 24 Hour Play Festival, and an upcoming episode on The Language of Us podcast. She’s currently working on her thesis play for her final year at The New School for Drama.