Georgia stood before the full length mirror, staring blindly at the figure looking back at her. The white gown she wore highlighted everything from the fullness of her breast to the roundness of her hips, while daring to dart in at the waist and proclaim it to be an inch or two smaller than what it really was. She supposed the latter was due to the fullness of the bell-shaped skirt with all layers of chiffon and French lace.
"What are you thinking about?"
Georgia lifted her vision from the hem of her skirts to the reflection of the woman sitting behind her, on the edge of the double bed, concentrating hard on fixing a lose flower on one of the bridesmaids' maroon and white bouquet. Chewing her inner lip, Georgia shook her head, wondering now if she should've wore her long auburn hair in a free fall rather than perched high on her head like an abandoned bird nest.
"You look lost in thought."
With a sigh, Georgia ran her hands over the hip of her dress, pretending to straighten the material that cost her father a small fortune. "It's my wedding day. Surely my focus is permitted to drift to moments beyond the present one."
"I would expect it to drift on pleasant thoughts, not troubled ones."
Tilting her crimson lips into a crooked grin, Georgia turned to face her mother. "You always could see straight through my masks."
Laura settled the bouquet onto Georgia's bed before rising to stand before her daughter. "You look beautiful."
On a grimace, Georgia confessed, "I have never felt so unattractive in my life."
"It's only just gone lunchtime."
Shrugging, Laura poured two glasses of wine from the tray someone had thoughtfully brought to the motel room sometime earlier. "So?"
Smiling, Georgia welcomed the glass with an unsteady hand. "I think that's one of the things I love about you most, mum. You unconventionality - if that's a word!"
With a wink, Laura clinked the two glasses together. "Here's to love that will often find itself tested, stretched and more than a little twisted."
Echoing a giggle, Georgia raised her glass and took a mouthful. "What? No 'happily-ever-after' speeches?"
Returning to what she was doing a moment earlier, Laura sat her glass to one side and shrugged. "You more than anyone know I'm a realist, Georgie."
Hearing her the name only her mother called her, Georgia all but threw her glass onto the dresser and hurried to kneel before her mother, the dread she felt in her heart shooting through her expression and actions, and into Laura's awaiting arms. "Oh, mum... I don't think I can do this."
With a tear of her own, Laura drew back a little so she could raise her daughter's chin, until they were looking eye to eye. Georgia had always known her mother to be an affectionate woman - strong, with no fear of love, be it the giving or the receiving of it, but never had she appreciated it more than she did at this very moment.
"Oh, honey," Laura breathed through trembling lips, "you make me so proud."
Closing her tear-filled eyes, Georgia shook her head, barely managing to choke out, "How? Why?"
"For many reasons, my love, but right now my heart beats with great pride because I see a woman who is not afraid of having her own mind. When you were a little girl you had such fanciful ideas, always admiring the 'beauty' in the fairytales, always wondering who your prince would be." With a shaky smile, she added, "I recall one Birthday wish being for a knight to ride in on a big white horse, to carry you off into a world far grander than this one has proven itself to be. Yet, here you are, not running into marriage, not believing you need a man to make you happy, finding the confidence to hold on to your own identity even in changing your last name."
At Laura's suggestion, Georgia moved to sit next to her mother, keeping her hands safely locked in the other woman's. "Do you love Ted?"
Georgia shrugged, accepting the tissue her mother handed to her. "I did when I woke up this morning."
"What's changed in the past few hours?"
Shaking her head, Georgia stared at her thoughts. "Nothing... I just... I don't know. I guess I'm a little scared. What if it's not happily-ever-after? What if the white stallion turns out to be an ass? What if Ted does?!"
Reflecting the mixture of sobriety and humour in her daughter's eyes, Laura vowed, "At times, he will prove to be exactly that. Sometimes you'll wonder why you married him. Other times you'll wish you were single. But then there will be those moments that make it all worthwhile. They say that love is a battlefield, and it is, only, you're there to fight alongside one another, for one another, not against one another. At times you'll be so frustrated with him that you'll want to slap him back to yesterday, but that's when you need to remember you're on his team. Sometimes players get knocked down, something leaves them a little weak or weary, and that's when you're going to have to get down of that white horse and shod it yourself.