For this month’s creative showcase, we asked our writers to think about tradition, broken and unbroken. This lovely piece about a wedding was submitted by Alex.
A tradition untested by time
There was a wonderful amount of colour, considering the aesthetic was predominantly grey. Hundreds of minute lights, small flames trapped inside glass baubles, hung in reams from the canvas ceiling, as though all the stars in the sky were suspended in clouds. They coated the pavilion in a calming glow, illuminating the couple stood with intertwined hands at the altar, half-carved, half-growing out of the base and roots of a great oak tree. A light breeze wound its way through the congregation, ruffling both skirts and the wildflowers that adorned the hill they were all gathered upon.
A friar, a small and well rounded man, stood with his arms outstretched, reciting words that had been passed down to men in his position since before the oak had borne its first acorn. His words lilted on the wind, carried through the crowd with an air of reverence, solemnity, and, most importantly, joy.
It was the perfect summer day. The Solstice, whether that be winter or summer, was traditional for such a ceremony. Oftentimes, several couples would be wed on the same day – but this was merely seen as more cause for celebration, everyone uniting in love for the shared wonder of matrimony.
On this Solstice, however, there was only one couple. They stood shoulder to shoulder, hands clasped tightly between them as the friar continued his recitation. They answered appropriately, oblivious to all else.
“Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have an to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?”
The groom nodded, the words almost catching in his throat.
The couple’s garments, rich purples, blues and golds, strong colours, stood out starkly amongst the various desaturated greys worn by the townsfolk; the clothes had been designed long, long ago with the sole purpose of keeping all eyes on whoever was at the altar. With every new bride and groom to be, the outfits would be repurposed, carefully and lovingly washed, stitched and adjusted – whether for pauper or prince it did not matter. Every wedded couple wore them. It was traditional.
A lark, hiding somewhere in the branches above the pavilion, sang a chirping, merry melody that was answered from further down the hill – towards the base of the village – by another. They would sing to each other until the sun set (which was to say that they would sing all night long, for the Solstice marked the longest day of the year, a time when the Earth was bathed in unending light, and an old, almost forgotten magic seemed to drip from every rock crevice or ripened fruit).
“And do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?”
The bride turned to her husband to be, met his wide, hopeful eyes, and smiled.
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