Chardonnay sat absent mindedly looking out of the window as her dad squeezed her hand. She turned and saw his face beaming with pride. He looked so smart in his morning suit, his purple cravat matching the crocuses in her bouquet. She smiled back hoping he though she was just nervous. The biggest day of her life or the biggest mistake of her life?
The day before she had been finalising the wedding arrangements when there had been a knock on the door. She rushed to answer it whilst still talking on the phone.
‘No the buttons holes need to go to the groom’s address and the four bouquets to my address and they all need to be here before 10am tomorrow.’ She patiently explained down the phone. The woman at the door smiled and nodded to indicate she would wait. She was a wispy looking woman almost gossamer fine and looked like she might wilt away at any moment.
Chardonnay finished talking to the florist and smiled at the woman. ‘Can I help you?’
‘You don’t know me,’ the woman started. ‘But I need to talk to you. There is something you need to know before tomorrow.’
‘Really?’ Chardonnay was at breaking point with organising nearly all this wedding on her own. The only think Neville had managed to do was organise the stag do and allegedly the honeymoon but she wasn’t holding out much hope for that. Neville was the first man she had met that treated her right. They laughed at the same things and were best friends as well as lovers. She had never know you could have such a wonderfully fulfilling relationship with a man, all her other boyfriends had never focused on her feelings as much as Neville did. But when it came to organising this wedding he had seemed almost reluctant. She had worried she had rushed him into it but he had assured her that he loved her dearly and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
‘Come in and have a cup of tea, I could do with a rest.’
Chardonnay didn’t know why she invited the woman in or why after she’d heard her story she didn’t throw her out.
Neville had been at the registry office for over an hour when the registrar came and asked him if he knew when they would be able to start. There was still no sign of Chardonnay and the ceremony should have started over twenty minutes ago. Neville said he would try her again but was sure she was just stuck in traffic. So far only half the guests had turned up so he assumed there was a problem.
Neville walked over to a quiet corner and tried to call her again. It was ringing but she was not picking up. What could be wrong? Chardonnay was the best thing that had ever happened to him and he knew he could be a bit of a muppet at times but he loved her. Maybe Pauline had said something after all.
The previous week Pauline had come to him with an ultimatum.
‘You need to tell her,’ Pauline had said for the third time in as many weeks. ‘If you don’t, I will.’
‘I will tell her,’ He had promised. ‘But not until after the wedding. I love her and there’s more chance she will calm down and get her head around it if we wait until after the wedding.’
‘Neville you are twenty-six and know absolutely nothing at all about women. You need to tell her before the wedding and then if she comes back you know she really loves you. If you tell her afterwards she’s staying out of obligation and that can’t be good, and if she leaves people are going to want to know why and then everyone will know. Is that what you want?’
‘Listen Pauline,’ Neville was getting angry now, all the women he had ever know just pushed him around, this time he would do it his way. ‘I will tell her when I am ready and you can just butt out.’
Neville tried Chardonnay’s phone again. Still nothing! Maybe Pauline had been right, he turned and saw no-one was looking and slowly made his way out of the registry office grounds and flagged down a taxi.
‘Where too mate?’ The taxi driver asked
‘Gosforth Street please.’
‘A water mains blown in the high street and its causing mayhem do you want me to go round the back?’
‘No go the usual route I need some thinking time.’
Chardonnay was shaken from her thoughts as a police car all lights and sirens blazing went passed.
‘What’s going on?’ she called to the driver.
‘A water main has burst up ahead. The traffic’s chaos. Hopefully now policeman plod’s here we can start moving.’ The driver smiled back. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be a bit late but we’ll get you there.’
Her dad smiled and squeezed her hand again as she drifted back into her thoughts.
The woman had been called Pauline and had filled Chardonnay in on all the details over a cup of tea.
‘I felt I had to come and talk to you before the wedding,’ Pauline had said as she had first sat down at the kitchen table.
‘I’m not sure I like the sound of this,’ Chardonnay said as she sat down.
‘I am fairly sure that whatever I tell you now will not be what you are expecting.’
‘Now I am worried, go on.’
‘I am Neville’s twin sister and I told him that if he didn’t come and talk to you I would.’
‘Neville said he didn’t have any family. Why would he say that?’
‘Neville fell out with our parents a number of years ago and I have only just found him again. You see there are some, let’s say issues and that’s why I am here.’
‘Okay I still don’t understand why Neville didn’t feel he could tell me whatever it is, but carry on.’
‘Well the reason my dad won’t talk to Neville is because Neville used to be Lucy.’
‘What are you talking about? How could Neville have been Lucy? You’re not making any sense.’
‘Lucy and I were twins and as we grew up I was the girlie one and she was always a bit of a tom boy. Mum and dad always thought she would grow out of it but when she was fifteen she told us she was a transsexual. Dad hit the roof and told her she was too young to know what she was talking about. Things were fraught for a number of years until Lucy went off to university and when she came back she was manlier in her appearance. Whilst she had been away she had spoken to some people and joined the university gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group and said she was finally happy with who she was. She told me the only way she could become the person she was meant to be was transgender surgery. She explained this all to mum and dad and dad threw her out. This was all about five years ago and last year I was walking down the high street when I saw Neville. I knew straight away it was Lucy. He tried to pretend he wasn’t for a long time but I knew.’
‘So you are telling me that my fiancé is a girl. How can that be so? You have to show your birth certificate to the registrar.’
‘Neville has a gender recognition certificate and that meant he could get a new birth certificate showing his acquired gender. He is legally a he and therefore can legally marry you.’
Chardonnay had asked Pauline to leave and had spent the night wondering what to do. She couldn’t talk to Neville but she had to before she committed the rest of her life to him.
Just then the car started to move and the policeman waved the limo through. Chardonnay looked up just in time to see Neville looking back at her from a taxi stuck in the queue of traffic going the other way.
‘Quick pull over,’ Chardonnay shouted.
‘Can’t stop here the traffic is already backed up,’ the driver called back.
‘Then drop me off and go and park somewhere,’ Chardonnay looked over at her dad. ‘Sorry dad but I need to get something sorted.’
Chardonnay jumped out of the limo and started running towards the taxi just as Neville jumped out of the taxi and started running towards the limo.
Neville grabbed her and gave her a huge hug, ‘I thought you had changed you mind. I was so worried.’
‘And so you might have been,’ Chardonnay pulled away and looked him in the eye. ‘I have spoken to Pauline and I know everything.’
Neville’s face dropped but then he realised she was in her dress and still trying to get to the registry office. ‘But you were still coming?’
‘I don’t know anything at the moment,’ Chardonnay started to cry. ‘I know I love you and that I don’t want to lose you. How many people can say that? But why didn’t you tell me? I needed to know something like this before the wedding, don’t you think?’
‘It’s kind of difficult to know when to drop into the conversation, “by the way I am a post-operative transsexual”’
‘I suppose it is,’ laughed Chardonnay. She hugged Neville tightly realising how much she truly loved him, and then pulled away once more. Looking up at him she smiled, ‘You better get that cab turned round then if you’re going to get to the registry office.’ With that she turned and rushed back to the limo.