Jennifer sat at her vanity table. She basked in the glow radiating from the woman smiling back at her from the mirror. Her cheekbones seemed to lift with an angelic perfection, diaphanous brown hair cascaded in soft, slow motion around her head and shoulders. The entire room in the mirror, past the woman’s head, was likewise filled with golden light and sepia tones, the air suffused with the celestial dust of heaven floating daintily in the sunbeams seeping through the windows.
Jennifer stood up from her seat, and glided to a full-length mirror in a corner of the room. Her white dress trailed behind her like a cloud that just didn’t want to let go. She felt regal and tall standing in front of the mirror. The slight, elegant arch of her figure made her think of the perfect curve of a cello emitting a low, solemn hum.
Jennifer spun lightly on her feet, allowing her dress to twirl slowly around her. She loved the way the tiny rhinestones glinted in the sunlight. Hundreds of tiny sparkles like hundreds of dying suns exploding across a white galaxy.
Today was going to be the most sublime day of her life. She felt it deep in her bones. Before the day was through, Jennifer and Bill would finally be wife and husband.
Jennifer glanced at the clock on the wall. Andrea was running late. No big deal, still plenty of time before she had to leave for the church. She just needed to talk to Andrea about her makeup.
Jennifer wondered idly what Bill was doing at that moment. Would he be dressed in his suit by now? What thoughts were running through his head? Was he still at home, or already at Brian’s apartment? Brian was always losing things, hopefully he still had the wedding bands on him. A knock on the door shook Jennifer out of her ruminations.
“Yes?” she called out.
Jennifer crossed the room and opened the bedroom door.
“Sorry I’m running late. Trains are a bitch this morning.”
“It’s ok. The ceremony is not until two, we have plenty of time.”
“Ok, good.” Andrea smiled. “How is the bride? Nervous? Excited?”
“Both. Mostly happy.” Jennifer beamed.
“Good! I’m happy for you too.” Andrea held Jennifer’s hands for a moment. “Shall we get started?”
“I wanted to ask you something.” Jennifer sat back down at the vanity table. “I haven’t had a chance to get something blue for today. I wondered if you had anything in your kit you could put into my makeup somehow? I’m sorry it’s so last minute.”
Andrea frowned in thought. “Hmm, I do have some blue eyeshadow in here.” Her face brightened up again, “I could probably work that in somehow…”
Jennifer sighed in relief. “Thank God! I knew I could count on you. I just want everything to be perfect today.”
Andrea opened up her makeup box, and pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear, concentrating. She held Jennifer’s chin in her fingers, examining Jennifer’s face from the left, from the right. She looked Jennifer in the eyes. “I know it will.”
Jennifer’s mother emerged from the cool darkness of the church. She paused in front of the church doors, hand shading her eyes as she squinted up at the sky. Clouds gathered heavily in the horizon. There was definitely a thunderstorm coming in. She sighed, and lowered her gaze to where Jennifer sat by herself on the steps a few feet away.
“Honey, you’re going to ruin your dress.”
Jennifer turned her head, regarding her mother with blank eyes. She returned her chin to the cradle of her hands, and looked wistfully at the cars passing by on the street. Her mother pulled her phone out of her purse, scanning the screen, frowning. Then sat down next to Jennifer on the church steps. She placed an arm around Jennifer’s shoulders.
“Still no word, huh?”
“Brian is checking with the police right now.”
“What a thing to happen on your wedding day. Did anything seem odd when you spoke to Bill last night?”
“Nothing at all. We talked about Hawai’i, both of us just looking forward to relaxing finally. We were going to visit all the islands, Lāna’i, Maui, Kaua’i…”
Jennifer’s mother glanced up at the swiftly darkening sky. Heavy clouds moved steadily and surely, pregnant with imminent rain. “What on earth could have happened to him?” she mused.
A car pulled up the curb, screeching to a stop in front of the church. A man in a suit jumped out of the driver’s seat, and ran urgently to where Jennifer and her mother sat on the steps.
Jennifer looked up. “It’s Brian!” She rose onto her feet with her mother, trying to decipher the strained look on Brian’s face. “Where have you been? Where is Bill?”
“I came straight here from Brooklyn. I was at the police station. There’s been a horrible accident.”
Jennifer pursed her lips. The wind picked up, rustling the leaves in the trees. She pressed her hands down on the dress billowing around her feet.
Brian glanced up at the rain clouds gathering thickly overhead. “Maybe we ought to go inside and sit down.”
“No,” Jennifer was adamant. “Tell me now, where is he?”
Brian paused before beginning. “Bill was apparently on his way to my place. I spoke to him on the phone before he left his apartment. He said he hadn’t had time to eat a thing, that he was starving. He must have grabbed a sandwich on his way to the Bergen Street station.”
A clap of thunder echoed across the sky. The wind blew more insistently, swirling the litter on the ground into little cyclones.
“The police said there was a homeless man always hanging around in that station. Witnesses claim he came up to Bill, standing on the platform, and asked him for change, or for his sandwich or something. They say Bill just turned his back, ignoring the guy. I’m sure he was just preoccupied with the wedding. The homeless guy started yelling, reaching for Bill’s sandwich, just as a train was pulling into the station. The police don’t know if the guy pushed Bill, or if they were just struggling over the sandwich.”
Jennifer’s mother gasped. “What happened?” Jennifer quietly asked. Thick droplets began to fall from the sky, pattering lightly on the sidewalk and trees.
“Bill fell onto the tracks in front of the train,” Brian sobbed. “Bill is dead.”
Her mother’s hand flew to her mouth in shock. Jennifer just stood there as the clouds above unleashed the rain they had been holding back. Raindrops plopped onto the sidewalk, falling down over Jennifer, her mother, and Brian. Jennifer’s shoulders heaved up and down. The rain hit the crown of her head, running down her forehead, into her eyes. Rainwater mixed with her blue eyeshadow, dribbling down her cheeks in little blue rivulets, onto her white dress. The rivulets formed blue stains on the fabric. Like ink in a pool of water, the blue stains spread across the dress.
The rain fell relentlessly on Jennifer’s head. There seemed to be no end to the blue eyeshadow that streaked down her face and stained more and more of her dress. Jennifer remained standing, frozen in place. She didn’t seem to notice that her dress had turned completely blue.