Amber tried to hide the look on her face. She turned to face her sister.
“What are you staring at?” Lynne asked, her face all screwed up in that motherly grimace of an older sister.
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking,” Amber replied, taking a sip of wine.
“Well, I was asking your opinion about the dresses,” Lynne said, pouring herself another glass. “What do you think of coral chiffon?”
Amber tried not to choke on her wine.
“Coral? Not really my color,” she said, pointing to her red hair.
“Well, the day is not about you, is it?” Lynne reminded her. The other bridesmaids stifled tipsy giggles. “We need to talk about this. We need to come to a decision. The girls like this coral dress. What do you think?”
Amber rolled her eyes. This was interminable. She would give anything to be anywhere else right now, like a rodeo, or under a bridge. In the college of life she had inadvertently enrolled in Weddings 101. Instructor? Bridezilla.
“Why can’t we have a normal color, like blue or green?” she offered. These would have set her hair off, but then Lynne, with her stringy blonde hair, wouldn’t like that at all.
“No, I think we’ll go with the coral,” Lynne decided, and raised her glass. The bridesmaid troupe raised their glasses as well. Everyone stared at Amber.
“Fine,” she said, beaten. She raised her glass, then downed the whole thing. What she wouldn’t give for a shot of tequila!
The nameless bridesmaid clones started chatting among themselves like a gaggle of geese. Straightened, highlighted hair bobbing and flowing. Privileged girl tans. She watched her sister chat happily with them, blue eyes sparkling as she laughed about shared times. She turned away again. Her hand went subconsciously to her red curls, pulling and twirling one as she thought.
“Amber…? Amber,” Lynne was staring at her again with her penetrating gaze. How long had she been daydreaming? The clones had left, probably to go to the bathroom together.
“I’m fine,” Amber said, sighing.
“Thanks for agreeing to be in the wedding,” Lynne said. “I know how difficult it must be for you. It means a lot to me.”
“I guess I can expect Dad to be there, right?”
A pained look came over Amber’s face.
Lynne looked away. Amber felt bile rising up in her throat at the absurd unfairness of it all.
“How are things at home?” she asked, twirling her curl again.
“Oh, you know. Mom is busy with her volunteering, and Dad is working all the time, as usual. You should call them. They would love to hear from you.” Lynne said. “They are planning a trip to Europe after the wedding,” she added.
Ugh! She felt the tears coming again. Stupid tears. Again. Always with the tears. She steeled herself, biting her cheek and blinking fast, hoping that would make them go away. She couldn’t believe he was footing the bill for this circus of a wedding.
“Amber. Think about this. Dad is a selfish jerk, but you can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Mom has spent endless nights crying because you don’t call,” Lynne said.
She turned on Lynne, eyes narrowed. “You don’t understand,” she said. “Everything you’ve asked for, you’ve been given. You just bat those eyelashes and the man caves. I’ve never really asked for anything until I asked for help with paying for the university, and he wanted my five year plan… in writing. Look at this place,” she continued, waving her hand around. “What does a wedding at a winery cost, anyway?”
Lynne looked away. There was silence.
“Amber,” Lynne said quietly, earnestly, turning back toward her sister, “I can’t help what Dad does. I want you to be a part of my wedding. You’re my sister, and I love you. I wish you could put this aside and move on.”
Lynne had been telling her for years to get over it. She knew she couldn’t. The pain seared into her heart. She also knew Lynne was right. It was not her fault, although she had played into it plenty of times. But who’s to say Amber wouldn’t have done the same thing in her position.
The tipsy clones were on their way back.
“Would it help if the dresses were blue?” Lynne offered.
“Nah, coral is just fine,” Amber said, smiling wryly. “Open bar, right?”
Lynne just laughed and hugged her sister.