Her once happy life in tatters thanks to a cheating husband, lacklustre career and a wrinkling face, Viv no longer believes in love and happiness. In fact, she hates them both. The problem is that as a marriage celebrant, gleeful love is what she has to deal with every day. With 10 hilarious and tragic weddings (and a funeral) to get through before she can give up being a celebrant, can she prove that love and happiness are the pathetic hopes of the naive, or will fate intervene and show her that what she secretly craves could be right in front of her?
Sticky and sweaty, I opened my eyes. The smell from the Shiraz that had spilled and soaked into my shirt was burning my nose. Sitting up, I blinked my vision clear and peeled the melted block of chocolate I had been devouring, from my chest.
My phone buzzed and vibrated. When I checked the screen, there was a stream of text messages.
Carrie: Viv, call me or I’m coming over there. Natalia says you’re wallowing.
Julia: Do you need anything? Haven’t heard from you since Friday. Call me.
Peter: Viv, call me. Have you thought about what I said?
I threw the phone onto the couch. God, I wish they would all just leave me alone!
According to my phone it was Tuesday. I’d barely seen poor Natalia, who was busy with work and study, but her absence had worked in my favour. It had allowed me to wallow in my misery. When she did come home, I would straighten up and look like I loved being alive. She was usually only checking in and heading back out, so I didn’t have to keep up the facade for long.
I rolled off the couch onto the floor, lying in repose as if I was a corpse in a coffin. I was beginning to like this misery, it seemed so much easier than trying to please everyone.
“Go away, I don’t want any company, or your lectures,” I yelled when the doorbell rang. I didn’t care who it was.
“Well luckily I’m not here for any of that then,” Tom called through the door. “I just missed you and wanted some company.”
I huffed, but felt slightly pleased that he actually still wanted to spend time with me, despite me being a drunken, washed-out hag.
“Have you eaten?” he asked, after I’d let him in.
I held up the melted, family size block of chocolate in response.
He shot me a look of disapproval. “Well, you need to eat something a bit more substantial. Go have a shower while I order some Chinese. I’ve brought a movie to watch.”
I groaned in protest, but followed his instruction. The shower had a strange cleansing feeling, not just on my body, but on my miserable mood. I had meant it when I said I didn’t want company, but now that Tom was here, I felt utterly relieved to have some.
“Did you order the entire shop?” I asked, pointing to the large array of dishes spread out on the coffee table, along with chop sticks, wine, and cushions on the floor. Thank God there was wine.
“I know I’ve been awful lately and I’m sorry,” I said. “But I can’t get myself together at the moment. I appreciate you being here though.”
He smiled. “What are friends for? Now eat up, and let’s get this movie started.”
Tom’s movie of choice was The First Wives Club. Perfect, only a man would think to get a recently dumped and traumatised woman a movie about a bunch of other women who have been traded in for younger versions. I wondered if it had been a random choice or if he’d deliberately chosen it, given that the women get their own back in the end. He was so enthusiastic that I didn’t question his motives. Instead, I settled back and drank some more, and at some point, after gorging on Chinese food and prawn crackers, I fell asleep.
Restless from the wine, but dozy and comfortable, I snuggled into the warm flesh beside me and leaned my face against the rough stubble of Peter’s cheek. I kissed him, just inside the nape of his neck, trailing his jaw line gently until my lips met his. I wrapped one leg over his and stroked his forehead, letting my fingers push through his hair. His hand came around me, finding the back of my neck. It stopped there for a moment and then trailed lightly down my back onto bare skin. My lips pushed harder against his before I remembered – Peter was gone!
“Tom, I’m so sorry.” I jumped off of the couch, losing my balance and landing on the floor.
“What?” He was half asleep and completely confused.
I got to my feet and backed away further. “I’m so sorry, I thought … I don’t know what I thought”. I buried my face in my hands, disgusted with myself. “I thought you were Peter,” I said, unable to meet his eyes.
Tom swung his legs off the couch and sat upright. “It’s fine,” he assured me with a big smile. “You’re under a lot of stress. Don’t go getting all upset and crazy. We were half-asleep, don’t worry about it.”
I turned away and walked into the kitchen. This is your best friend and now look what you’ve done. Why do I have the uncanny ability to screw everything up? I loved Tom, but I didn’t love him like that.
Tom followed me into the kitchen. I forced a smile, “Sorry,” I whispered.
“You’re being ridiculous, I don’t want you worrying about this. It was a mistake, whatever, it doesn’t matter. We’ve been friends a long time. Something as tiny as this isn’t going to change that.”
“I know, I know,” I lied as my stomach churned, but it wasn’t as simple as that. Our relationship had always been clear. Peter and I were married and Tom was my best friend. I just didn’t want this changing anything or coming between us.
“I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy it,” he joked and rubbed the top of my head. “You’re not bad when you’re delirious.
Susan Murphy is a civil marriage celebrant based in South Australia. With more than eight years experience, she’s had the pleasure and blessing of conducting ceremonies all over the country including weddings, baby naming’s, commitment ceremonies, funerals and anything else that has been requested by a client. The stranger the better!
With a passion for words and a determination to one day (even if it was from the nursing home) become a writer, she made a fateful decision to attend a Masterclass with the amazing Fiona McIntosh, and from there 'Confetti Confidential' was born.