"More champagne?" the gentleman asked with a smile.
I nodded timidly, staring at his face a tad too long. I then remembered him as Daphne's cousin, "I'm sorry. Jay, right? We had met at Daphne's bridal appointment."
"Yup! And what a fine find. She looks stunning!" he said looking across the room.
I looked at the happy bride. The sparkle in her eyes reminded me of the day I had met her.
"Hi! Who is my bride?" I said in my chirpy, over-the-top enthusiastic sales girl voice. She wheeled towards me and took my hand, "It's me, Daphne!"
"Warm, spirited and positive" a voice said in my head. "So have you looked at bridal gowns before, or is this a first time?"
"She just got of the hospital yesterday. And this is the first place we came to." an abrupt voice spoke and I turned to the to-be bride's family. All the anxious eyes were on me and I could feel the pressure. But Daphne cut in, slicing the tension in the air "Yes, this is my first time shopping and I'm so excited!"
"Let's roll then!"
I guided the family to the racks and took Daphne in the changing room. Behind closed doors, I saw the vulnerability beneath the smile. I had many questions to ask her. The customary, "What kind of styles do you like?", "What kind of a wedding will it be?", seemed irrelevant and perhaps would have been difficult for her to answer. Instead I asked her, "How are you feeling today?" and it opened the floodgates.
Daphne had first met Chris on a double date with their respective partners. "It's not as scandalous as it sounds!" she had laughed as she narrated the story. They didn't get together until a year later, when at a common friend's birthday bash they crossed paths again and found solace in each others company. Sharing their break up tales eased them into the conversation and they soon realized they were two peas in a pod, with their love for coffee, art and children's books. Their first official date was amongst Edward Munch's sinister and cinematic paintings. As they fell in love with the artwork, they also opened their hearts to love and eighteen months later Chris proposed. "We were walking across the Gabriel's Wharf" she recalled, "and he popped the question in the middle of the buzzing market...Who knew that would be the happiest as well as the most miserable day of my life"
With tears streaming down her face, Daphne relived the tragic accident that left her lifeless from below the hips. "We were engaged...I was so elated and in that happy giddiness I tripped over a kerb on the pedestrian crossing...I landed face down, severely damaging my spine."
I was reaching out for tissues as her mother knocked on the door and brought in her pick of gown, a heavily beaded ivory dress with a fitted bodice and a full skirt. "For my princess" she smiled. I looked straight through her, unable to look her in the eye, my heart still heavy from what I 'd heard.
"Would you like to try this one?" I asked Daphne cautiously.
By the third dress trial, I could see her confidence diminishing and exhaustion taking over.
"Talk to me Daphne" I requested.
"I don't feel beautiful. I always pictured myself walking down the aisle but now..." she sighed.
"I don't want my family and friends pitying me on my happiest day. All these magnificent dresses just make me feel small, engulfed...though hidden behind these big skirts, all I can see is people staring at my legs" she cried.
"Would you feel comfortable if we could design a dress especially for you?" I don't know what made me say that. I was so desperate to help her get to her happily ever after.
"You guys do that?" her eyes sparkled at my suggestion.
"Not here. But I could!"
I was proud of Daphne today. As the string quartet played her favourite 'Kiss the Girl' from the Little Mermaid, she swayed along. The dress swayed with her.
The subtle oyster sheen of the fabric, the short skirt, the purple funky bottom all of it had come together well. I had not only designed the dress but also the purple laced veil, which flowed behind the wheelchair.
"I hear you have started your own line?" Jay broke my stream of thoughts. "Congratulations!"
"Yes, Daphne is my inspiration. It is yuánfèn that brought us together and we are starting a one of a kind wedding designer store together, for brides in wheelchairs" I said with a happy heart.
Hope you'll join me in the fourth #SaturdayWordplay challenge. The word prompt this week is 'Yuánfèn'. Prose or poetry, just pick this word and let it flow! Looking forward to reading your posts!