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Wedding Day

Superstition said not to see the bride in her dress. It said nothing about the two brides seeing one-another in what they would be wearing under their dresses.

Charys hooked the sheer stocking to Peggy’s garter, smelling the jasmine lotion she was now rubbing into her arms and shoulders, which were dusted with a light scattering of freckles.

Light filtered in through the translucent curtains, which blew in the breeze. The windows were open, no AC present in the old, Antebellum house. Peggy’s mother had bought it to rent out and get money for her retirement fund, and she had given her daughter and soon-to-be daughter-in-law a discounted rate to hold their wedding in the backyard.

Few members of both families were here to help, let alone attend, leaving the brides and a scattering of friends to get everything in place.

Charys wouldn’t let that bother her. Once the stocking was hooked up, she slowly stood, drinking in her bride’s voluptuous body. She moved with the grace of her dancing years and had curves where Charys had angles.

She wrapped her lanky arms around her love’s waist, lips finding the crook of her neck as the scent of jasmine and powder filled her nose. Her long, sweeping raven bangs fell over one of her dark grey eyes.

“Not yet, love,” whispered Peggy, sounding like she wanted to go against her words. She set down the bottle of lotion and turned in her fiancée’s  arms.

Her ash brown hair was piled on her head in an intricate ‘do, several curls falling down her neck and around her ears for a free-spirit tone. Violets decorated the front of the braided bun like a crown, and a combination of eyeliner and mascara made her teal eyes large and bright.

“Annie’s going to storm in here if you keep her waiting,” Peggy said, eyes sparkling as she smiled ear to ear.

The sight made Charys’s heart quicken and fill with air. “I swear, it’s not even her wedding and she’s more nervous than everyone combined.”

Peggy’s scarlet lips brushed hers. “Be gentle with her. She just wants to help make today perfect.”

Charys smiled as she met Peggy’s eyes. “It already is.”

Painting

Rose is awake again. She’s perched on the top of the rail of the front porch, a bottle of bourbon held halfheartedly over the jasmine bushes.

Imogen leans against the door frame and watches her wife for a moment, through the screen of the outer door. The solid wood door, a Christmas wreath still hanging on it even in July, was wide open when Imogen awoke. The old house doesn’t have central heat or AC, and she and Rose gave up on the window unit when the last one broke down for the upteenth time.

Mississippi summers get hot, though, so every night, they open the windows and left the front and back door open. This far out in the sticks, they don’t have anything to worry about theft-wise.

The worst that might happen is a feral cat chewing its way through the screen again, and Hyacinth turned out quite tame once she was given food, water, and care. The tabby, missing half her tail and part of one ear, rarely wanders outside anymore, perfectly happy in the house.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Imogen asks before pushing open the screen door.

The hinges, in dire need of oil, squeals, and Rose turns her head lazily. Her dark eyes are glassy, and she offers a lopsided grin. Her short, raven curls are broken and frizzy.

Rose holds out the bourbon when Imogen reaches for it. She sets the half-empty bottle by the bench swing.

“I wake you?” Rose asks as she stumbled onto the porch, her wife helping her from ending up on her face.

Hyacinth rouses at the sound of the screen door opening and closing, but after a slow blink, she goes straight back to sleep.

“Let me make you a cup of tea,” says Imogen, “and you can help me.”

“With what?” Rose kisses her wife where her neck meets her shoulder.

Her cheeks are flushed, and Imogen catches her before her legs turn to Jell-O. How she manages to stay perched on the rail when she drinks, Imogen has no clue.

Rose’s momma always says she has the grace of an angel but the habits of a devil.

Imogen believes it.

Past the bookcase on the right wall is a door leading to the hallway. Imogen brings her wife into the bedroom-turned-art studio on the right. The light green walls look brighter under the lights, and Rose groans and shakes her head at the sudden brightness.

There’s a couch under the wide window making up half the back wall, and Imogen lays Rose down onto the cushions.

“I just need you to look beautiful as always,” Imogen whispers, tasting bourbon as she and her wife kiss. “Wait here, and I’ll bring you some tea.”

Smile lopsided, Rose leans against the arm of the couch as she nods sleepily.

When Imogen returns with a mug of chamomile tea, Rose is looking at the paintings on the walls as though seeing them all for the first time. Tags are taped to the backs of those with buyers, packages next to the couch. She needs to get them sent out soon.

“You only married me for my pretty face,” Rose jokes, burning her tongue on the tea. “Dammit.”

“Tea’s hot, darlin’.”

“No shit.” Rose sets the mug on the hardwood floor, which is sanded pine and painted a darker shade of green than the walls. “How you want me, hun?”

Imogen helps her pose so she lays on her stomach with one leg bent so her knee hangs off the edge of the couch. Her arms are folded under her head on the pillow, and she faces the back of the easel.

“Comfy,” Rose snorts, but she smiles.

“Stay still,” Imogen sings, grabbing the headband that hangs from her easel, to keep her bangs out of her eyes.

She sets up the canvas and talks to her wife as she paints. Rose only moves to sip her tea once it starts to cool, and after a couple hours, the conversation tapers off, leaving Imogen humming to herself.

She smiles as she looks around the canvas at her slumbering wife, image matched on the canvas but for twin, black-feathered wings. The one draped over the back of the couch, obscuring part of the window, had bones visible, feathers torn out and left askew. Bandages cover one leg and arm.

A blank space by the end of the couch is left for later. Imogen will need Rose to pose again as reference, but she plans for a woman to be kneeling by the angel, securing the bandages with a loving hand.

Dropping the brush into the cup of murky water, Imogen takes Rose to their bedroom. Hyacinth protests at the intrusion but settles against Rose as she’s helped into bed, partially-awake.

“I love you,” she mumbles, curling up under the thin covers.

“I love you,” Imogen whispers back, kissing her on the temple.