I slip in at the side door, the exit we used to leave by after Brownies when she was ten and I was seven, and I slink upstairs to the balcony. The peepholes are still here, small cracks in the wood through which we once spied on Brown Owl and her boyfriend as they canoodled in comfortable pews at the end of the night.
Excited voices rise to the rafters in anticipation of my sister’s arrival. Meanwhile, her fiancé fiddles with his watch the way he always does when he’s nervous. The organist looks to the back of the church, breaks off from ‘Ode to Joy’, strikes up ‘The Wedding March’. There’s a shuffling of feet as the guests stand and a tsunami of smiling faces turns to admire the bride.
In the groom’s eyes, there’s a softness I recognise as he gazes on my sister walking towards him, holding her heathery bouquet and wearing white, as only she would dare. Dad retreats. The groom whispers in his soon-to-be wife’s ear, drawing colour to her cheeks and I wonder: does he call her ‘Sunshine’ too? The music stops and the minister starts. Crouched like a wild cat, I keep my head down and wait for the right moment to pounce.
Come on, come on.
“If anyone knows any reason…”
This is it. This is the moment. Feral anger floods my veins and yet somehow, I’m paralysed, turned from pursuer to prey. Trembling, I watch in silence as they make their vows.
And after they’re wed, as Widor’s frantic toccata sounds out, I steal one last look at my sister in the arms of my ex-husband before slipping downstairs unnoticed and out by the side door.