To Absent Friends by Sam Fairlea

Ladies and Gentlemen, now that you have all finished the cake – we avoided fruitcake and nuts for obvious reasons – it’s speech time. First, I need to point out that the emergency exits are clearly marked. Hopefully you won’t use them.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to have met Kelly, and how astonished I was to find that she felt the same about me. It was, however, no surprise when we realised we both wanted to mark this occasion in the same way.  We have had a rough ride, but I have promised Kelly that after today there will be no dwelling on the past.

‘Where are the Groom’s family and friends?’ I hear you ask. ‘Something must have gone on in that family for none of them to be here.’ The truth is we only invited people who have had a real impact on Kelly’s life to help us celebrate this day in a special way.

Mick and Gaynor – I would thank you for producing such a beautiful, intelligent and compassionate daughter, but those qualities certainly aren’t inherited from you. All credit goes to Kelly for making it this far despite the abuse you have subjected her to.

We didn’t ask Mick to give a father of the bride speech as we know he would have found it difficult to say anything nice about Kelly. ‘Fat’ and ‘ugly’ are not the words a girl wants to hear about herself, especially not on her wedding day.

Gaynor, I hope you enjoyed the meal – it was the only option left after you scoffed at all the others. And what do you think of the dress? This wasn’t Kelly’s first choice, but after you decided the dress of her dreams was also the dress of yours and appeared in the changing room, standing next to her and looking into the same mirror, in that dress, she couldn’t bring herself to wear it.

Joanne, aka ‘the pretty one’. What a rock you have been for Kelly – cold, hard and unfeeling. I know you, like others here, have griped about not being asked to be a bridesmaid, but Chrissie was the only choice for that.

Bridesmaid is a position earned through more than longevity or blood. It is earned by not dismissing someone who needs your help with ‘you think you’ve got problems’, or with photos of your recent holidays or new cars. And Chrissie does have her own problems – a troubled individual with a penchant for poisons (did I mention Kelly met Chrissie on the psychiatric ward?) – but she has never been too busy to visit Kelly in hospital after an attempted suicide and always finds the time to send her a short message when Kelly’s depression won’t allow her to leave the house. 

So, thank you Chrissie for joining us today and for making the exceptional wedding cake – I am sure it tasted delicious.

Now, there is only one thing left to do – please raise your glasses and join me in a toast: Kelly – to a long and happy life… and soon to be absent ‘friends’.

 

About The Author

Sam Fairlea lives in the North West of England with her partner and two dogs. She has an MA in Creative Writing and likes to write shorter stories as a break from the longer project of writing her first novel, a Victorian gothic mystery.

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