Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wings of the Past

Wings of the Past  
By Suzanne M. Hurley
Women's Fiction - 379 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Zoey Avery thinks she is happy, until wedding thoughts infiltrate her marriage-phobic mind. Complications explode when she realizes the groom in her dreams is not her current boyfriend, but a man she hasn't seen in thirteen years. Confused, she sets out on a journey to uncover the truth of her heart's desires.

"Hey, Marta." I leaned closer. "How weird is this? Lately, I've been having all these wild, crazy thoughts about getting married."

There, I said it.

I'd finally voiced out loud what I'd been thinking about for the past three months, still not believing that I-Zoey Avery, dedicated work-a-holic extraordinaire-would suddenly find myself afloat, lost in imaginary worlds, daydreaming about tulle and veils and gowns. Marta had gotten engaged six months ago, so I figured she'd be the perfect one to talk to about this.

"What'd you say?" she yelled. "I can't hear you over the music."


Karaoke was in full swing at the Black Lagoon Bar in downtown Burlington, Ontario, and a trio of businessmen slugging back beer, jackets off, ties askew, were singing and gyrating to Gangnam Style. We were at our usual table, way at the back where it was quieter, for our weekly martini and chat. Karaoke night was new and Gangnam Style was revving the crowd up more than usual. The bar was the rowdiest I'd ever seen, with most people trying to emulate Psy's moves. Go figure-it just happened to be tonight, when I had something serious to discuss.

"I want to get married," I yelled, just as the song ended. My words rang out, hovered, and I swear every person in the bar turned to look at me. It was one of those 'time stood still' kinda moments, only not in a good way.

"Hey, I'll marry you."

I looked over to see a jean-jacketed man straddling a stool, leering at me. He looked totally out of place with his wide-brimmed cowboy hat, scuffed boots and scruffy beard.

Oh no!

He clambered off and swaggered over to our table, slowly and dramatically, as everyone in the room began clapping and cheering him on.

I could feel my face redden.

Did they think this was planned? That it was a real proposal?

"Hello, gorgeous," he said, tipping his cowboy hat.

I watched in horror as he slid a cigar out of his shirt pocket, pulled the band off and got down on one knee. Holding up the paper ring, he placed his other hand against his heart, exclaiming, "Will you do me the honor of marrying me?"

Immediately, the crowd started chanting, "Say yes. Say yes."

"It's not real," I screamed out. "I don't even know this guy."

Frantic, I looked around for some help but my best friend Marta, ignoring my dirty look, was laughing so hard, tears streamed down her face.

Oh hell, I knew it was in fun and in another place or time I might have found it hilarious, but not tonight. I was in somber mode.

"No, thank you," I said firmly, shrinking down on my chair, wishing I could disappear.

A groan echoed through the room. Someone led a chorus of boos, another hissed.

"Well, you're an old sourpuss," he said, looking indignant, as he stood up and swaggered on over to a young woman yelling, "Hey stud, I'll marry you."

Fortunately, another trio, this time women, jumped on stage and grabbed the microphone.

Good. Everyone would get off my case and focus on the new singers, but much to my horror they started singing Bruno Mars Marry me, urging on the new love match, all the while shooting daggers at me every five seconds. I sunk even lower in my seat, anymore and I'd be on the floor.
Marta, wiping away her tears, sputtered out, "I must be hearing things. Did you really say you want to get married?" She started to laugh even harder.

Glancing over at the singers to make sure they weren't going to stop any time soon, especially since I was about to answer Marta, I was happy to see they'd given up on me. Instead, everyone was now clapping for cowboy guy who had dragged his latest conquest onto the dance floor and was hamming it up, serenading her with exuberant gestures that went along with the music. Judging by her giggles, she seemed to be loving it. I decided I was in the clear.

"Just thinking about it," I answered.

Okay, to most people, the idea of getting married one day, or living with someone, or even looking for a relationship, was the norm. As evolved as us women were supposed to be, a lot of females I knew still dreamed of their wedding day and had been since they were tiny tots. Over the years, I'd been privy to many of their confidences at sleepovers, coffee dates, parties, or late night chats on cell phones. Dreams flew high as they conjured up long, flowing gowns, handsome grooms in tuxedoes and sentimental, teary-eyed vows in churches, barefoot on the beach, in the backyard, living room or any other favorite place of their choice. And of course, ear-splitting receptions that lasted all night and let's not forget-lavish honeymoons in exotic places, unless it was a destination wedding and they were already in paradise.

Oh sure, times had changed and lots of people lived together first, often for financial reasons, sometimes forever, but wedding days still seemed to worm their way to the forefront and multiple, endless plans were made. Especially, if they had children or were deciding to have them.

I was not among the norm.

I did have a boyfriend-Liam O'Reilly-even lived with him, but wedding plans did not exist in my take on life. I never thought of them-not even once. Nada. Never entered my mind. In fact, if even a whiff of a vow drifted up into my conscious level, it was crushed instantly in my quest to be the best ever vice principal to the teenagers at Maitland High, as well as a humanitarian to the many causes dear to my heart. Yup, I was one of those hard working, do-gooder types of people and proud of it. I was happy, content and thoroughly enjoying life.

So why, seemingly out of the blue, would marriage thoughts come crashing down, disturbing my sleep, my focus and turning me into a tired, confused, old hag? At least, that was how I felt lately-like tiny fissures were spreading throughout my perfect world, exhausting me and throwing me off kilter.

I just didn't get it.

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