“Old lady with a walker coming through,” Cora barks at the crowd in the reception hall. “We’re going to get arrested,” she mutters.
“Hush now.” Lulu smiles, nods as people shuffle out of their way.
“Actually, I’d rather get hauled into jail than face Carl. He’s going to be livid when he finds out we escaped on his day off.”
“Carl is certainly not a people person. Why he went into nursing is beyond me.” Lulu guides Cora to a back table. The scent of red and white roses fills the air, chased by the musical notes of the string quartet.
“We snuck out, hitched a ride, crashed a wedding…”
“We have an invitation.”
“One you found on the floor at the home! It wasn’t sent to you. We don’t even know the couple–M. L. Swift and O. C. Sands.”
“Oh, Cora, how long has it been since you had any fun?”
“I’m too old for fun.”
At the table, a rotund, bald man nods while a morose woman sniffs at them.
“Isn’t this lovely?” Lulu gushes. The man smiles, admires Lulu’s uplifted bosoms. The woman jabs him with an elbow sharper than her glare.
“And you know the couple how?” the woman demands.
“We’re old friends of the bride.” Lulu waves to the waiter, who brings them champagne.
The woman raises an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Oh, yes. We go way back. But she’s never looked more stunning. Positively glowing.” Lulu smiles over the rim of her glass.
“Glowing. Absolutely.” Cora gulps the champagne, hopes the bride is no baboon.
The woman stalks off without a word. Grabbing the arm of a man in a tuxedo, she blathers in his face, scowls, points to them. The man turns.
Cora gasps. “Lulu, get my walker! Hurry!”
“What is it?”
“We’re heading for the hole,” Cora mutters as Carl strides toward them.
“Ladies.” His tone is gracious, his lips twitch in an almost smile.
They stare up him. Why is this man, who makes their lives in the home so miserable, standing here in a tuxedo? Why is he being courteous when he usually prefers sarcasm and snide remarks?
The woman appears at his side. “These women are crashers, Carl. They don’t belong here.”
“You’re absolutely right. They should be sitting up front.”
The old shrew’s mouth gapes, but Cora and Lulu take little pleasure in it. Cora glares at Lulu, who looks meekly down, as Carl escorts them across the dance floor.
Once they’re away from the table, Carl leans against a pillar, shaking with silent laughter. Lulu and Cora look at each other. Run, Cora mouths the word, but Lulu shakes her head. Carl wipes his eyes, gives a final chuckle.
“Ladies, I want apologize for being so rude and grumpy at work. We’ve been under so much stress and pressure with this wedding.” He smiles. “Come sit at the head table. I insist.”
“Why are you being so nice?” Cora asks.
“Because you ladies gave me the best wedding present ever.”
“But we didn’t…”
“Yes, you did. The gift of laughter.” He waves over a lithe, copper-skinned man, also wearing a tuxedo. “Ladies, you remember your old friend, the bride…”
Madeline Mora-Summonte writes from one extreme to the other–from flash fiction to novels. Her contemporary women’s fiction manuscript is currently making the rounds of agents. She lives in Florida, with her husband.