Early afternoon sunlight poured through the Overture Center’s floor-to-ceiling windows, filling the pearly marble lobby with a bright, joyous glow. Circular, variously scattered chest-high tables kept the company of colorfully dressed guests sipping champagne and mingling colloquially. Poppy Elton John tunes playfully accentuating the celebratory ambiance.
It was wedding day. Sunshine, streamers, cake and kisses. Congratulations, Gina and Amy.
“Hurry up!” Amy said to her new wife. They were freshening up before the reception—quickly hidden away in a nearby granite-tiled bathroom. And while Amy—being one of those mysterious individuals who seldom sweats, smells, or appears unkempt even amidst a flurry of harried chaos—had already completed her touch-ups, Gina was lagging painfully behind, struggling hopelessly with her tie knot. “What’s taking you so long anyways?”
“It’s this dumb knot,” Gina responded in focused strain, her attention entirely devoted to the intricacies of her neckwear. “I’m going for an Eldredge, and I just…” she paused to chant instructions to herself under her breath. “Over, back, up, through—ugh!” she undid the failed knot with an exasperated groan. “Look, you go; I’ll be out in just a bit.”
Amy chuckled understandingly. They went well together, those two. “Well,” Amy said, “don’t take too long in here, ok?” With a peck on the Gina’s cheek, Amy stepped out.
Gina sighed and resumed her efforts at the complex knot. “Over, back, up, through, around, through, around, through, over, over, tuck—YES!”
Gina smiled proudly into the mirror, and the lights dimmed—nonexistent candles extinguished by a chill, theoretical wind. But no, this couldn’t be her imagination, Gina felt. The air was distinctly colder; the lights gloomier; the room—haunted.
Gina’s breath fogged the mirror. She should leave. One last check, though—this was a reception, after all; presentability was crucial. Bringing her shirt cuff around her palm, she wiped away the surface condensation.
And revealed a face behind her.
The face was that of a woman—pale, with long, black hair and a white veil falling across her face, which was pocked with a mixture of flowery tattoos and deathly decay. She, too, was dressed for a wedding—her flowing, lacy dress now accented with streaks of crepuscular cobwebs. Bringing her hands up to drape them gently around Gina’s shoulders, she spoke in soft, Gehennan whisper.
“Here,” she began. Her eyes were two hollow, Lovecraftian voids, an unfathomable ebony emptiness with laser-light red pupils. They glanced down at Gina’s necktie, and the woman’s two ghoulish, skeleton hands followed suit.
With deft agility, the woman’s hands carefully undid Gina’s tie. “Now,” she breathed, icily, beginning to retie the knot, “the trick,” and here she wiggled her left hand, “is to not let go during this step, you see?”
Gina nodded with terrified haste, her eyes like dinner saucers.
Two more loops, and the woman tugged the loop tight. “There,” she said. “That’s how you do it.” And as she pulled the knot snug, the lights flashed on. The woman was gone.
Gina stared into the mirror.
“Gina!” Amy yelled, returning through the bathroom door, “What on Earth is—well, would you look at that. That is a gorgeous knot! Did you do that yourself? Anyways, c’mon! Everyone is waiting!” she motioned for Gina to come.
Looking behind her one last time, Gina turned back to Amy. She shook her head, put on a smile, and followed.
Have a story you want to share? Let us share it with our audience: Share Your Story