Saturday, May 3, 2008


Lindsay was in a truly foul mood. She was sitting in a creaky and uncomfortable white wicker chair next to the window of her 500 Euro a night room in Santorini. She should have been gazing out onto one of the most beautiful vistas in the world: the Santorini Caldera, a stunning volcanic crater jutting out from pristine blue waters dotted with quaint Greek fishing vessels; instead all she could see was grey fog. It was as if she was wrapped in a thick, damp, foul grey blanket.

Ironically, it made perfect sense that, after 4 days here, she had yet to see the dazzling white rooftops and scintillating blue ocean of Santorini. She didn't question her luck at being stuck in this freakish fog. She was supposed to be here on her honeymoon, relaxing on the black sand beaches with her new husband James, but as she had broken his heart by leaving him at the altar five days ago, it made sense that she would be punished with this foul weather.

James had refused to use the non-refundable tickets to Athens. She'd insisted that he take them and go with his best man, but he had muttered something about going to stay with his mother for a while. It seemed silly to let the tickets go to waste, so she had grabbed her bag and jumped on the plane. There had been no time in all the confusion to ask one of her friends to join her. Now she was sitting here, sick of eating Greek salad and moussaka, with no one to talk to and nothing to do except consider what she'd done.

It had all started so promisingly last July. They had met at Moran's Bar down by the water in Battery Park during a lazy summer happy hour. James was funny, smart, and good-looking in a good-guy-next-door sort of way. After a few mojitos, they'd grabbed some sushi and had ended up talking 'til dawn. By Thanksgiving, they were living together. He had proposed that New Year's eve, with champagne corks and fireworks popping all around them. She had immediately said yes, looking up into his brown eyes. It seemed quick but right. They were so in love.

Once the ring was on her finger, like a lead weight dragging her down, things changed. James' mother, Brenda, took a starring role in their relationship. Lindsey watched helplessly as her new fiance turned into a simpering momma's boy overnight. Her relationship with Brenda rapidly went from cautious polite to outrightly antagonistic. Brenda insisted on being involved in every wedding decision from placecard font to cake flavors. Each time the two women disagreed, James sided with his mother. Lindsey had even asked him angrily one night whether he wouldn't rather be marrying Brenda.

Miraculously they had made it to the wedding day, July 20, exactly one year after their first mojitos. Lindsey had been hoping that once the wedding was over, she and James could go back to the way things used to be, before his mother became a constant third wheel in their lives. She had been particularly looking forward to spending two weeks touring Greece with him alone. Neither had been before, and they had both been so excited to discover Greece together.

On the big day, she had stood outside the heavy mahogany doors of St Alban's Catholic Church, nervously fingering the smooth satin of her gown. She was alone. She had no siblings, and her parents were gone. She was so eager to put the whole wedding mess behind her and begin her life with James as she had imagined it before things got so hard.

The doors slowly swung open and she peered cautiously in the dimly lit church, blinded by the contrast with the sun outside. She could see many of Brenda's friends ogling her critically. She strained to catch a glimpse of James, up at the altar. When she finally spotted him, she paused. James was so intently staring at his mother, sitting in the front pew, that he did not notice his bride. At that moment, Lindsey knew that nothing would ever change. Brenda was part of the package. She realized that going through with the wedding would be a catastrophic mistake. The only easy part of the decision was knowing that Brenda had paid for the wedding and reception. She had to protect herself, even though it probably meant hurting James.

Now she was alone in grey Santorini and she missed the James she'd moved in with, the James she'd falled in love with, the James who was not his mother's son before he was her lover. She stared at the murky waters down below, hearing the sad tolling of the bells warning the sailors off the cliffs, and she wondered whether she would ever love again like she did last fall.

This fiction writing was inspired by this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: FOUL. Check out how others used the prompt!

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