One Touch of Serenity
One Touch of Serenity

I do

** August 2000 **

Hannah Morales stared at her reflection in the mirror. Just a few minutes ago, three women surrounded her. Whilst one worked on her hair, the other applied a variety of products on her face which she had lost count of and the last woman arranged the beautiful white dress she had on.

It wasn’t like the typical dress every girl dreamt of wearing on a day like this. This one was special and it meant the world to her.

Her grandmother wore it. So did her mom. And now, she was wearing it. And she loved it. It was a beautiful dress after all, not adorned with extravagant pearls and whatnot. It was simple yet classy.

And it was what the women in her family had worn on their wedding day, a day Hannah has been dreaming of. The day when she walked down the aisle, wearing the same dress her mother wore whilst she was minutes away from marrying the love of her life.

Except, the man she was marrying wasn’t the love of her life. He was her friend and Hannah had a great amount of respect for him. But she didn’t love him. They grew up together and went to the same high school, but that was it. Her feelings for him are purely platonic. As for every man she'd met.

Matter of fact, she didn’t like anyone with a joystick between their legs. Growing up, Hannah Morales found her attraction to women insane. It wasn't until she turned seventeen that she fully came to terms with it. The fact that she loved women. So much so that she'd grown to hate the thought of being with a man intimately. Hell, the thought of coming home to a man after a long ass day at work made her stomach churn.

But it had to be done. For the sake of her family and the position they held in the community. Coming out would soil their reputation, which is why she didn't protest when they asked her to marry Austin Jenkins.

Her dad was the mayor of the city. And her mom, well, she was a trophy wife, and her soon-to-be in-laws were quite known around town too. Two influential families coming together. One word, power.

But Hannah didn’t want to be a trophy wife like her mom. There was so much she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to start up her own business and make a name for herself, not hide behind her family’s last name and her husband’s last name like her mother did.

And that was the aspect where both women didn’t see eye to eye.

“Oh Hannah my dear, you look lovely” her mother, Mrs Morales walked in, a proud smile on her face and a pool of tears gleaming in her eyes.

She looked briefly at the woman whom she took her hazel eyes from. “Thanks, mom” she looked back at her reflection.

“Let’s go. Your dad is waiting by the limousine to take you to church. I can’t believe you’ll soon become Mrs Jenkins” the older woman whose hair was rapidly showing signs of ageing cooed.

Hannah sighed. That was another thing she wasn’t okay with. She didn’t want to carry Austin’s last name. She didn’t want to be a Jenkins. She was, after all, marrying the man to please her parents, couldn’t she at least keep her last name?

Bringing it up now will be the genesis of yet another argument and she didn’t want that. She needed her thoughts intact while she made the worse decision of her life. How ironic.

Hannah Morales wished the 1995 limousine didn’t reach the wedding venue as fast as it did. She wished the ride lasted a while. She was even ready to entertain her father’s bickering if it meant she could have enjoyed her last seconds as a free woman.

But much to her dismay, she was listening to the instructions of the wedding planner her family has been interacting with for the past months on how processing into the hall will look like.

She listened, but nothing sank in.

And then she felt her father’s hand on her shoulder.

“Let’s go, honey. It’s our turn”

The next minutes happened in a daze. Her hands were entangled in her father’s, then they were walking down the red carpet leading to the alter, he was whispering in her ear words which would make her smile on any other day.

“I can’t believe I’m giving you off to another man. Seems just yesterday when you were playing in the garden” the older man’s voice was laced with emotions.

'Yeah, can’t believe it either".

Hannah’s mental remark was filled with disgust.

The doors opened and everyone looked in their direction.

Hannah swallowed a gulp. Her soon-to-be husband was exactly fifty steps away from her.

Hannah Morales forced a smile on her face. But it didn’t last long. So she made a mental note to smile only when she made eye contact with someone.

And well, once she was standing at the altar with her soon-to-be husband.

Her hands disentangled from her father’s and he gracefully kissed her on the cheeks then handed her over to Austin as though she were a parcel.

Hannah pushed that thought to the back of her mind and tried to focus on what awaited her.

When Austin took her hand, she felt cold and she froze on the spot. And then she remembered she had to smile.

The corners of her mouth raised and she gave him a sly smile.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to put in matrimony, two people who love each other” the bald priest with a beard spoke out.

Love? Hannah gave a mental chuckle at the priest's statement. She fancied Austin, that was the most she felt for him.

Seeing the smile plastered on Austin’s face, Hannah Morales knew she could not marry this man. She knew she could not spend the rest of her life with this man.

It wouldn't be fair to either of them.

She should have apologised then and there to him, to their family and to everyone who'd come for her.

But she couldn't. She couldn't bring that pain to her parents. So when the priest began with the rites, Hannah dismissed those thoughts into the pit of her brain.

"Do you, Austin Jenkins, take Hannah Morales to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse until death do you part?"

Austin looked at Hannah with a smile that broke her heart.

"I do" he replied.

"Do you, Hannah Morales, take Austin Jenkins to be your lawfully wedded husband? To love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse until death do you part?"

Hannah looked at Austin. She could tell that he'd picked up on the fact that she didn't want to marry him. So he gave her a pleading look, begging her to ruin his reputation.

Hannah was silent. In her heart, she knew whatever decision she made, someone will get hurt.

So, she closed her eyes and said the words she knew will be the start of her nightmare.

"I do"


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