The One and Only
The mirror told no lies. It never would. It never could. It told her she looked beautiful, her make-up done to perfection. Not too much, he didn't like it if she wore too much - and on a day such as this, what he liked was top priority. Gently red stained lips and a small line of black round her eye, it was all she needed as far as he was concerned. Why cover up perfection? He always asked that when they got ready to go out for the evening, a smile broke her lips and she patted down her hair as it flowed in untamed waves of dusky brown. A veil of delicate lace just covering her eyes with its intricate pattern. All that was needed now were the shoes, slipping them on she breathed out as the heels lifted her up - she was complete, ready and willing to be presented to him. This would be a defining day and any other outfit would simply be wrong. The veil, the hair, the dress - yes the dress indeed, it had to be the right colour. Even though she found the shade very unflattering she wanted to please him - after all he is such a traditionalist. She smirks and shakes her head with a roll of the eyes - they'd been together since University and still she didn't understand him. She probably never would. The silk was soft against her fingertips and she felt her eyes grow warm - a sense of both overpowering terror and anticipation attempting to swallow her up. Yet stood before such a turning point in her heart, how could she feel anything else?
A quiet knock came at the door and in came her father with cautious steps. In his aged eyes she saw memories swimming to and fro, they swivelled up and down, taking in her image and growing misty all the while. Holding out her arms she tilted her head, staggering a little he went to her and she held her father close, his sobs causing her to tremble.
"My little girl..." she pressed a finger to his quivering lips and kissed them softly. With a firm nod, apologetic look and quick wipe of a handkerchief he was ready. A sense of pride radiating out of him as he held out his arm to her, gladly she took it and was led down the stairs to the car.
In the pale Autumn sunlight all seemed somehow crisper to her as she watched the world slip by like sand through an hour glass. Everything was how it should be, it could never have been any other way. The world was how it should be. A glint made her look down, the small diamond of her engagement ring winking up at her and a small laugh caught in her throat.
That day he had been so nervous - odd as he's always so confident. Always raring to go was he, but that day he had dithered and tripped over himself. Then just as the sun began to set over Princess Street gardens in Edinburgh, the blossom of Spring floating in the warm air, he got down on one knee and asked her the one and only question she had wanted to hear. The jewel shined now just as it had that day not so long ago.
The engine rumbles to a halt and she steps out onto the churchyard's gravelled path. A weak breeze kisses her face and courage fills her aching heart, hurting as it yearns for him. They would always be together - she knows this to her core as the golden leaves fall all around her, family and friend all stand waiting. It had been her to have the ceremony outside, he did so love it, a last little gift from her to him. A hand takes hers and leads the way, she shivers all over but is determined not to cry. A small bunch of red roses are placed in her shaking right hand and she grips the cold stems for dear life, in her left hand is her fathers and it squeezes encouragingly before he lets go to take her arm instead. As they walk she feels a throbbing on her ring finger, she glances down again, the diamond engagement ring perfectly complimented by the plain wedding band. It had been a day much like this, the Autumn sunshine, leaves falling all around and her made up specially for him.
Only on that day she had felt a little warmer.
The faces smile, some cry, some do both, but all watch her walk to the head of the grave with a slow grace. Her eyes will no longer cry, she won't let them. The hole in the ground gapes up at her, its mouth lolling open lazily. This does not scare her, she knows it must all open up for us, she always knew that. A soldier knows that and so must his wife. Without a single sob she takes another few steps to where the coffin lies, its black veneer shining in the faint light as she places the roses on top. Their red glares out defiantly against the black beneath. It shan't be diminished, it shan't be overshadowed. It is a red like that of a wound, even though when indentifying his body there had been none, the body pale white as it lay on a metal shelf like poultry, even though no blood had remained on his flesh she had known where it would have flowed. A small circle, where a small bullet had entered was black against the pale skin upon his unheaving chest. Instant they'd told her. Though she knew they lied, it was clear like the day before her: the hot sun beating down on him, sweat trickling down the back of his neck and yells ringing all around. Confusion, desperation, fear. All probably washed over him a hundred times before the end, the cold nip of the bullet. All this would have happened, and yet she took solace in the that when death reached out his hand for her love he did so tenderly. Understanding the precious quality of what he now had in his timeless care.
It is cold under her hand she caresses her loves casket and looks out at the those who have gathered to say goodbye. His parents stand together, holding each others wrinkled hands as their lined faces crease with new sorrow, her own father stood nearby, watching her carefully with his old wise blue eyes. A wall of support and yet knows none will amount to him ever. Even so, she gives a small smile and nods to the three soldiers who have come to say their own farewell to a fallen comrade. With stony calmness they each turn about and raise their rifles to the air, shining in the sun like some kind of trophy in the most ironic sense. They shoot. Birds cry from afar and then silence falls again as the men raise their arms to salute the dead.
Their captain. The gathered's friend. Her fathers son in law. Her husband.
One and the same. The one and only.
One last look at the coffin and she catches sight of her reflection in its smooth flesh. The mirror told no lies. It never would. It never could. It would seem that she stands alone but the mirror only tells half the truth. In her heart he lives and within her grows their daughter. This woman thrives with love in her soul.
There she will forever be loved.