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'Til Death us Do Part

Love is about sacrifice, but what is the ultimate sacrifice?

‘Til Death us do Part

By Claire Allison

 

Prital and John were your average couple. They had met at a university in London, and had been swept up into one another’s lives ever since. Prital was young and vibrant, while John was introverted and shy at times. Although they were both complete opposites, they completed each other well. John had been Prital’s professor during her lectures, and Prital had been his perfect student. Neither had caused controversy for the other by committing themselves to the relationship, and despite their initial fears, they had been warmly embraced by one another’s families and cultures.

One similarity that had drawn them to one another was their love for travel. Both John and Prital wished to travel the world, and craved to experience new cultures and cuisines. Prital had been restricted from doing so due to her commitments with her studies, and John was too shy to embrace his passion as a lonesome traveller.

There was one solution – on the day of Prital’s graduation, John decided to organise a romantic getaway to Paris; to John it was a clichéd choice, but Prital was overjoyed by his generosity, and accepted the offer with excitement and gratitude. It was summer, so neither of the two had schooling commitments due to their annual holiday leave. They did not even pack clothing.

One evening they stood together at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was a warm and balmy night. The stars smiled upon the couple, and the moon beamed brightly against them. The silver light gave Prital’s delicate face a radiant glow, and her hazel eyes caught the light beautifully. John leaned forwards to stroke her cheek, and kissed her forehead gently. Prital took his large hand, and entwined it within her own. John led Prital towards the balcony and dared to look at the slumbering city that lay beneath them.

“I thought that you were scared of heights my love?” Prital inquired with bemusement.

“Prital, when I am with you, fear does not exist. My only fear is that I may lose you…” John replied softly.

“My darling, there is no need to look down… look up – always aim for the moon…”

“So at least if you miss you will land amongst the stars?” John completed. He detested clichés and one liner quotes, but Prital was like nectar – too sweet to ever be consumed otherwise. She nodded, and her eyes shone with mischief. They both laughed. As the playfulness subsided, John tried to change the atmosphere slightly.

“Prital… these last two years together have been amazing, and now I seriously can’t picture my life without you in it. I love you – always.”

She pulled at his cheek in a mocking manner. “Aw, honey, I love you too – just as much, if not more”.

“See… the thing is Prital, I want… I want…” John pulled his hand from Prital’s to dab at the sweat that was crystallising on his square forehead. He removed his spectacles and rubbed them clean. It was an unnecessary action, as they were already spotless.

“What is wrong sweetheart?” Prital became worried by her love’s distress.

John placed his glasses back on, and perched them on the bridge of his hooked nose. He bent down on one knee, and retrieved a small box from his inner pocket from his tweed jacket. Prital’s eyes widened and dilated; John had gained her full attention.

“Prital my princess, will you marry me?” he stated with a confidence that surprised him.

“Of course I will marry you!” she replied with a squeal, and she leaped into her fiancée’s arms. John spun her around quickly and they both cried with delight at the result of John’s proposal.

Prital had a proposal of her own, but she waited for John to place the antique emerald encrusted ring onto her engagement finger, before announcing her thoughts. She admired the ring for several minutes and pushed her long, black hair away from her shoulders.

“John –let’s not go home… let us get married – everywhere but home.” She declared with the widest of grins.

“What do you mean?” he asked with anxiety.

“I mean, lets travel to all of the places that we ever wanted to see, and renew our vows in every country that we visit – I mean what a great way of embracing all of the great cultures out there right?” Prital spluttered excitedly. John was more apprehensive of the suggestion, and could see the reality in the situation. John had secretly been hoping for a low key traditional church ceremony, with their closest friends and family attending. It seemed that Prital had other ideas. But, John could never say no to the woman that he loved more than life itself.

“Okay – let’s do it. What about our family and friends?”

“They will understand…” she said reassuringly, and that was that.

The following morning John had woken earlier than Prital, and to show his dedication to Prital’s idea, he went into a town just outside of Paris. He left Prital to sleep in the four poster bed, in their hotel room, and left a note, informing her that he would only be gone for an hour at the most. He found a quaint and small church that stood on a hill accompanied by a field of poppies. John told the minister about Prital’s ambition, and the minister was keen to assist. He informed John that there was a late afternoon cancellation, and that he would be more than happy to marry the couple then. The minister could even provide witnesses, so all that left was something suitable for the couple to wear.

As soon as John returned to Prital, he was elated by the actions of the morning. Prital was shocked and in awe of her future husband. She wasted no time in attending the local bridal boutiques on the main street of Paris and rented a traditional white dress. The dress was rather simple, and had a sweetheart neckline, that was accompanied by a lace trim on the hem of the dress. The dress was straight except for the mermaid tail. Prital also purchased a veil. She knew that she would not be able to take the dress with her on her travels but she wished to keep a memento from all of the countries that she visited. John also stuck to the traditional theme. He chose a black tailcoat, trousers and top hat, and bought a red tie – after remembering the poppies outside of the church.

At approximately four in the afternoon the pair exchanged vows and they were officially announced husband and wife. John had never been so happy in all of his life, and Prital had never been as proud of her husband as she had been today.

“Mrs Anderson…” he whispered, “you are the finest of brides I have ever seen”.

“Mr Anderson, does your wife know that you talk to newly married women like that?” she began to laugh and John smiled back at her brightly. Suddenly, she reached down and removed something from her garter. It was a piece of paper. Prital placed the piece of paper into his hands and beckoned for him to read the contents, as she walked away to retrieve the camera for the witness to take photographs.

It was a note. “My dearest darling husband, my wedding gift to you is a wedding in Spain. We leave tomorrow morning and the flight is at ten. I can’t wait to see you at the altar. My love always, your wife, Prital x”. He could not help but smile at those words, `your wife`. John suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder, it was Prital.

“Surprise!” she said. “What do you think? Good choice?” John nodded in agreement, and was still overwhelmed by the contents of today. He could not wait until he had a chance to write everything down into his journal – everything was just too surreal to accept right now.

“Now how about some photos…” Prital suggested happily. The witness who was a gruff old Frenchman stepped forwards and begrudgingly retrieved the camera from the bride. Before he aligned the two into a photograph, Prital whispered, “I like the way that your tie matches the poppies – very thoughtful touch…” she winked playfully, and linked her arm around her husband’s. The witness took a few photographs, and warmed to the couple as soon as they bid their farewell.

The next day, the couple boarded the plane promptly and looked forward to their visit to Spain. John’s only resentment was that they could not have enjoyed the ceremony in more depth, and planned the affair with more detail, though this seemed to be of no concern to Prital. Once the couple were settled in the farmhouse conversion, that they had rented overnight, they seemed reluctant to stay. There was no air conditioning, and being the middle of summer, their clothes clung to them tightly. Their solution was to remove their clothes quickly and make passionate love out in the vineyard in the blazing sunshine.

They then retired to the local bazaar in a town just outside of Barcelona. Prital had been informed by an elderly gypsy that owned one of the stalls, that it was traditional for the bride to wear a black silk dress, with a black lace veil. She also told the couple, that the female was supposed to embroider her fiancées shirt. When the couple announced that this would not be possible, the gypsy spat in disappointment, and stitched in record time. Prital felt disappointed about the colour scheme of the wedding, as she felt that the colour black signified mourning. She felt a pang of sadness for her family back home, and considered whether this could be classed as mourning. Her sadness was quickly forgotten, as John presented her with a bunch of Orange Blossoms.

“They are traditional too apparently – some beggar just gave them to me. They symbolise happiness and fulfilment, and I hope that they are both things that I give you, as much as you do to me each and every day”. Prital accepted the flowers and kissed John tenderly in front of the whooping passers-by.

That evening, at approximately nine o clock, the couple renewed their vows. The priest blessed them in an El Lazo ceremony. This was a cord that was wrapped around the couple that signified that marriage is for life. It was in the shape of a rosary. John liked this idea; it reminded him of the seriousness of marriage. Despite Prital’s thoughts about her attire, John thought that she looked ravishing, and smiled that this was the way that he was spending his first summer as her husband. John then quickly retrieved exactly thirteen coins from his pocket which was another tradition that showed his commitment to his bride. Prital was made to give the coins to the priest to have their love blessed by the priest. After the ceremony, Prital was reluctant to take photographs in the sun, as the black dress made her sweat profusely. The silk was flattering however, so the priest ended up taking a variety of shots for the two.

“Mrs Anderson – you do look ravishing right now. I can’t wait to get you back to the farmhouse…” John remembered that the quality of the farmhouse was not ideal, and instead they returned to a local restaurant and feasted on paella, and a fruit cake with almonds. John and Prital both had one glass of sangria, and John decided to go and hire a car to their next destination. Prital removed her black, lace veil and whispered seductively into his ear, “I want to make love to you first Mr Anderson…”

“But we have nowhere to stay”. Prital was full of surprises and lured him into an orange grove not too far from the car rental room. Prital groaned as John unbuttoned her silk dress, and the silk caressed her bare skin, as he caressed her ample breasts and thrusted into her hard. There was something extremely erotic about making love outside. Eventually the couple collapsed against the tree trunk that had supported them, and they stared lovingly into one another’s eyes. John was the first to speak.

“Prital, how about we don’t drive? Why don’t we go get the train, and have a ceremony in Morocco?” Prital had never seen John this excited before. She thought briefly and then replied.

“John that’s a great idea, oh wow – that does sound exciting… Let’s get going then, what are we waiting for?” John sighed, and looked greedily at her breasts once again. He took a handful and massaged one of them gently. Prital moaned with pleasure, and unzipped his trousers once again. This time when he entered her, it was slower and the rhythm made them appreciate the experience more. Prital’s hair was wild and flowing, and John’s shirt had been unbuttoned half way.

“Why do we always have to rush things?” he grunted as his pace quickened. Suddenly, Prital seemed shocked, and pulled herself away from her husband.

“I thought that is what you wanted?” she squealed, and there was a tone of sadness in her voice. “It is not rushing it is embracing the moment…” They did not speak once they were on the train, and Prital left to go to their cabin. She fell asleep quickly, and John decided to update his journal. He was angry for his remarks, but knew that there had been a truth exposed in his comment. He did feel that the holiday had become rushed, and that as a result they were missing a lot from their travels.

He opened the leather bound journal and wrote:

“Dear journal,

I am now a married man and cannot comprehend why my heart feels saddened. I am dismayed that Prital cannot understand why I feel that all is being rushed. I wish to enjoy her – as my wife, and as my friend, but I want to show her to my family and friends back home too. I love her dearly, but am worried now – what if I am holding her back? She is much more free-spirited then myself… I want to marry her back home, only then will I truly be at ease. This is selfish I know – it is not intended to be that way but rather, that I prefer routine to spontaneity. I want to enjoy the adventure that is love, as much as the travel itself. I doubt that she would understand, but I hope that she would…” John left the entry and clambered into the bunk bed above Prital’s.

Prital awoke shortly after John had fallen asleep, and saw his journal poking from the pocket of his tweed jacket. She opened the book, and read his latest entry. Her heart became heavy, and she felt troubled and guilty for the way that she had made John feel.

The following morning as the train pulled into the station, Prital apologised for the way that she had overreacted and the ceremony in Morocco was to go ahead. John was reluctant to begin with, but Prital promised him the greatest of surprises at the end of the blessing. After breakfast the couple split up, as Prital went to a sauna which was considered a way of purifying yourself before marriage. John had managed to organise the ceremony via a local villager. The ceremony proved to be the most costly of those attended so far, but this did not seem to bother John.

After Prital had purified herself, she selected her outfit from a local beggar woman who informed her that the dress was supposed to be for her daughter but she had run away to lead a western life. The woman offered her the dress for free from her stall but Prital promised her that she would return it, due to the sentimental value that the dress had. Before the women parted ways, the beggar offered to complete a henna design on Prital’s hands and forearms. Prital accepted the gesture, and paid her generously, much to the woman’s delight.

John and Prital met outside a mosque at noon, but John informed her that they were not marrying there, as he had organised for them to renew their vows in a large banquet hall. They both realized that they had nowhere to dress, but after the ceremony, it was not Prital’s intention to stay in Morocco, as this did not support Prital’s plans to surprise her husband. Therefore she did not deem it necessary for the couple to book into a hotel. The couple decided to retire to a small bistro for lunch, and they ate Briouat – which was a sweet pastry. For their main dish they devoured Mrouzia. Mrouzia was a lamb dish that was accompanied with raisins, almonds and honey. They finished this with a quenching glass of Asseer Rumman, which was a pomegranate and orange blossom water. John used the toilet first to change, and kept his previous outfit in his satchel. Prital changed next, and the toilet facilities were rather dirty and outdated. She changed quickly, and placed the black silk Spanish dress into her own handbag, and greeted her husband.

The entire restaurant clapped in awe of Prital’s beauty, and she smiled shyly. John bowed, and admired the white kaftan that was bound with a matching silk belt. He watched the ivory coloured bangles dance along her wrists, and complimented the henna designs on her arms. She returned his compliments, with her own. She thought that the white robe that John wore was beautiful. It had a large hood, and he accessorized the robe with a long matching jacket. John also wore a red fez, and soft yellow slippers, which he had heard was traditional attire for a Moroccan wedding.

They both realized that this was the greatest summer that they had ever experienced. John had never seen Prital look so beautiful and radiant in all his time that he had had the pleasure of knowing her. The ceremony started with a song and dance, and then traditional verses were read aloud. Next, the couple headed over to a large chair known as an `Amariya`. Four strong looking men carried them around briefly, so that any onlookers could wish them luck in their married lives. They were accompanied by a traditional band that had come free of charge at the discretion of the man that had hired the room to John. After their journey on the Amariya, they were seated in two embellished chairs that were located at the centre of the room. This was when the witnesses offered to take photographs for the newlyweds. John and Prital both smiled for the camera. Prital began to feel nauseous and asked John if they could leave. He retrieved his camera from the witnesses, and he thanked them for their attendance to the wedding.

As soon as Prital was in the open, she vomited against a gutter.

“Probably just your lunch I’m afraid…” John suggested. But Prital’s eyes suddenly widened. She had missed a period, and her expression worried John. She seemed eager yet nervous at the same time. Luckily Prital had a pregnancy test in her bag, as she had been trying to get pregnant for some time, but not to the knowledge of John. She dashed to the toilet in the same bistro from earlier on, and John waited for her anxiously on one of the tables. She had not yet informed him of what it could be. She sat alone, on the toilet, and peered hopefully at the test for three minutes. The results developed, and the test was positive! She was delighted – and dashed out towards her husband.

“John… John… I’m pregnant!” she screamed.

John’s face became pale with shock, but he was pleasantly surprised. “Prital – are you sure? I can’t believe it…” Prital thrusted the test into his palm, and he read the result for himself. “We’re going to be parents! We’re going to be parents! I can’t believe it!” He exclaimed. The people inside the bistro were confused by their display of excitement, and assumed that it was because of the wedding ceremony that they had just experienced. The people looked up and smiled, returning to their food.

“I have another surprise for you too John…” she stated confidently. He peered at her inquisitively.

“I want us to go back to London to have the ceremony that you have always dreamed of – immediately!” she said boldly. John’s eyes widened even further, and he hugged his wife tightly.

“Thank you – thank you so much. Okay, wow… this is all so overwhelming. Right then – you go and get changed, and I’ll go get some train tickets… meet me outside the mosque that we were next to earlier. I’ll meet you in half an hour” John instructed.

“We’re not flying?” Prital inquired.

“Darling, flying is too dangerous – especially knowing that you are pregnant, we just can’t put you at that kind of a risk… we’ll get the train okay? Just… consider it another part of the holiday I suppose. I promise – everything will be fine…” John enthused happily. Prital merely nodded her head, and felt suddenly exhausted. They kissed one another goodbye and Prital retired once again to the toilet to get changed.

She neatly folded the kaftan and admired it fondly. This was the outfit that she had worn when she had found out that she would be a mother for the first time. She smiled, and was content that the dress now had a motherly tie for both herself and the beggar. Prital pulled the black silk dress from her patent handbag, and as she pulled the material over her breasts – her tiredness faded, and she yearned to make love to her husband once again.

She sighed deeply, and wished that she had actually packed clothes – she looked at the short, pastel blue tea dress that was at the bottom of her handbag, but she knew how much John loved her in the black dress, and buttoned up its front to veil her protruding cleavage.

As Prital stepped outside, night was approaching. There were rich oranges and purples that filled the sky. She spotted the elderly beggar in the middle of the street, who was slumped next to a goat. The woman seemed ecstatic to see her, and embraced her fondly – kissing her on both cheeks. Prital thanked the woman for all of her help, and attempted to pay the woman once again for her kindness, but the beggar refused, and ushered her on her way. They waved and Prital continued on her journey to meet her husband.

The mosque was abandoned now, and she waited eagerly for John’s return, eventually he was back, and was holding the train tickets proudly. He kissed her on the forehead tenderly, and explained their journey in vague detail.

“Ten o’clock train my darling – we will go back to Spain tonight. I have booked a hotel right next to the train station for us. We’ll be heading back to Barcelona. I thought that we could spend the day in a hotel, and we will get the ferry in the evening from Barcelona to Nice. I managed to get hold of my Uncle Arnold, who has said that we can borrow his car… so at least you will have some comfort…” John shrugged his shoulders and took a deep breath.

“John you are my angel – seriously, I do not know where I would be without you. I love you. This has been one heck of a holiday hey? I can’t wait to tell our first born, that they were here with us, on our summer vacation!” Prital clapped her hands ecstatically, and John smiled up at her.

It was seven o’clock. Prital was exhausted and hungry. John managed to buy some Tajine, which was a dish that was a variety of vegetables and meats. He also bought some mint tea, and they sat on the kerb of the street, eating peacefully. Then the couple walked towards the bus stop, and eventually the bus arrived. The journey lasted an hour and a half, so they only had a half an hour wait until their train had arrived. John felt a sudden sadness. He felt that now that they were returning home, Prital would no longer only be his – but everyone’s.

The train arrived promptly, and the couple were eager to settle into their cabin for the night. Before they climbed into their separate bunks, Prital took John’s hand and pushed it gently to her stomach.

“John, just because we have another person in our lives now, it doesn’t mean that this is replaced okay? I love you John more than anything in this whole world. You are gentle and kind…” She stroked his face affectionately. Prital then yawned loudly. “Goodnight my love, and sleep well…”

The following morning, the couple were awoken by a loud whistle that informed them that they were approaching their station quickly. They dressed with rapid speed, and Prital stared at her husband seductively, as he pulled on his trousers.

“Not now!” He laughed. “Come on – let’s go!” John demanded.

John and Prital dismounted the train and found their hotel easily. It was a comfort to be in a country that they had already visited – as it had a certain familiarity to it. They found the hotel easily, and made their way to their bedroom. John’s intention was that they could rest, before their ferry trip, but Prital had other ideas. John perched himself on the edge of the bed, and removed his shoes. Prital kneeled on the bed, and turned her husband to face her. She unbuttoned the black, silk dress and took John’s hand and placed it to her breast. John groaned loudly, and unzipped his trousers quickly. He planted butterfly kisses along her collarbone, and they made love for the rest of the afternoon.

The two were eager to eat before their journey continued on the ferry, so they ordered a selection of tapas and Patatas Bravas and ate on the harbour. They soon boarded the ferry and before they knew it they were in Nice. John’s uncle Arnold had his chauffeur drop off the car at the port.

“Next stop London!” John cried happily. Prital laughed back, and John opened the car door. It was a large and expensive company car, and Prital was grateful to have the air conditioning unit. John planned to drive down to Bologne, or else the couple would have to wait until the next ferry, which was not until nightfall. John was tired at this point, but began to drive nonetheless. A short while later, John remembered that he had left the camera on the ferry, and he explained the situation to Prital; naturally, she was extremely upset. As John turned to try to comfort her, Prital screamed. John had not seen an approaching bend in the road. He turned the wheel quickly, but the car skidded into the side of the wall.

“Prital… Prital – can you hear me?” he screamed, whilst shaking her. Prital did not reply. John checked her pulse, but there was nothing… John became hysterical, and dragged his wife from the car. She was dead.

He recalled how Prital had never wanted to get married at home, and now her wish had come true. The summer vacation that brought so much happiness had ended in tragedy – even the camera was gone… how could he ever be sure now that his travels had even happened?

He closed Prital’s eyes and remembered that her veil was in his satchel. He clipped this into her hair, to hide the beauty that he had once loved and now lost, forever.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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