97. Always

“Oh my little girl, you look so beautiful.”

“Mom stop it. They just finished my makeup, and if I cry then they’re going to have to do it all over again.”

“I can’t help it, Honey. You look like a princess. I mean…Look at yourself.”

The two women stepped to stand in front of the full length mirror in the bridal suite. The young woman was already in tears, mascara already ruined despite the claim that it was waterproof. The white silk she wore was a stunning contrast to her beautiful, dark skin. Her sweet mother insisted that the dress was modeled after Cinderella’s because her daughter was “a goddamn princess.”The cascades of fabric nearly swallowed her up. And yet, she seemed to practically be glowing as her tiny mother grabbed a chair to stand on in order to affix the veil to her hair.

Covered in intricate tattoos that were black as the night sky from earth, she seemed the opposite of her daughter in her flowing ball gown. When the woman smiled, you could see her sharpened teeth. It was amazing that they didn’t catch on her dark painted lips  when they pulled back. She sighed contently as she finally got the comb situated, watching as her daughter dabbed tears away from her big, green, eyes. Her darling, only, daughter was finally getting married. At nearly two hundred, the Voodoo Queen never thought she would live to see her daughter all done up in white. Granted, this was mostly because she had longed hoped that Anita would hit it off with Makumba.  He was such a nice, African boy…Whose mother happened to be a shaman and a very good family friend.

But, she supposed that Greg would have to do. Even though the man’s family was from the middle of nowhere Oregon, and he had nearly passed out the night before. The private ceremony in which he was welcomed in to the ancient line of her sweet Anita’s matriarchal family had been a touching one. Greg had nearly passed out, as if he’d never seen someone bite the head off of a still living snake before. Anita’s great grandmother had only ribbed him a little bit, though. The son of a Portland software developer had quite a lot to learn to get the rest of the family’s approval. But, the wide smile on the lips of her daughter was more than enough for the Queen.

“Oh Momma.” Anita let the makeup woman in, so she could fix the mess that she had made with her crying. “Thank you. For everything.” She wrapped her arms around the woman once more before sitting down in the chair by the vanity.

“Sweet child, what are you doing thanking me? His parents paid for this monster of a centurion.” The woman laughed, pulling on the violet shawl that matched the beautiful flowers in the nearby bouquet. “Your old Momma didn’t do anything.”

“You said yes.” she smiled. “You send him packing, and you LET his parents go through with all of this. You even got Poppa to agree to come to America for this.” Anita looked about to cry again. “This means…So much to me.”

“It’s the twenty-first century, Darling. This old dog can still learn a few  new tricks yet.” The Queen laughed as the makeup woman finished fussing about here daughter and left the room again.

“I knew I shouldn’t have doubted you.” Anita’s face fell for just a moment. “I just wish that Daddy was here to see it. He would have loved Greg, with all of his bad action movies.”

“Oh don’t remind me of those. I’m still finding cases tucked in boxes at the house. How many copies of Rambo does one man need?” Both mother and daughter laughed as the Queen settled herself back in to a chair. “Now,what was it that you father would tell you when you asked him how much he loved you?”

“He’d say from the stars to the Nile.” Anita’s smile grew a little more sad. “And I’d ask how long that was. I mean, who expects a seven year old to know what the Nile is.” she shook her head slightly. “He really was odd sometimes.”

“My favorite was he would say from the Moon to Jupiter.” her mother chuckled still. “Or as much as the circumference of Mars.”

“Scientists huh?” Anita looked at the ground. “But when you’d finally tell him that those were silly answers, he’d say-”

“Always, Annie Love. So long as I’m on Earth and after.”

Anita turned sharply towards the door at the familiar voice, ring-clad hand over her red painted lips. His skin wasn’t anywhere near as dark as her mother’s, and his green eyes seemed to glow. Under that glow, however, they matched her own shade. The suit looked a little dusty, but the flower in the lapel matched the ones in her bouquet.

“Sometimes this dog can still use her old tricks, ehy?”

“Daddy?” Anita’s hand fell back to her side. “Is…Is it really you?”

“Your mother cashed in a few favors with the Seers in Australia.” the man smiled a crooked little grin. “I couldn’t miss your wedding day, after all.”

“But…You said it couldn’t be done.” she looked back to her mother. “That not even your magic-”

“I said not forever.” The woman walked over and placed a gentle hand on the man’s arm. “But for a few hours, long enough for an over the top, West-Coast wedding…That I can manage with a little bit of help.”

“Besides, who else is going to walk you down the aisle? That’s the one job that the father of the bride has in this whole mess, right?”

“Daddy…” Anita’s makeup was ruined yet again as she hid her face in the musty-smelling jacket of her father’s suit.

“Anita, we’re starting now!” A girl peaked her head in to the room. “Greg is already…” She stopped, looking to the man.

“No time for that.” he pulled the girl in to the room, closing the door. “How much do you know about makeup? it’s almost as if my silly daughter doesn’t care that they paid someone to do it.”

“Daddy!” Anita laughed, wiping her tears away. “I love you.”

“From the Moon to Jupiter, Sweetie.”



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